What is a Tier 2 visa?
Tier 2 of the Points Based System is the primary method of economic migration to the UK.
The Tier 2 visa is a non-EEA visa for skilled migrants. There are several types, which are explained below.
As we leave the EU, the right of EU nationals to remain and work in the UK is under threat. The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has said that EU citizens will have no automatic right to work after Brexit, although he did not comment on whether Highly Skilled Workers would be able to work without applying for a visa, or whether employers would need a license in order to employ EU citizens. Recently, Jacob Rees-Mogg (who is a popular choice within the Conservative Party to take over from Theresa May) has said that EU nationals will have no more rights than those from outside the EU after Brexit, stating “I do not believe there should be any special terms for EU migrants.” As a result, many EU nationals working in the UK may have to apply as a Tier 2 skilled worker. Read more about EU nationals below.
What are the categories?
There are 4 main categories of Tier 2 visa, including:
- General Tier 2 visa, for skilled workers in a position that cannot be filled by a settled worker;
- Intra-company transfers, including long-term staff and graduate trainees;
- Sportsperson; and
- Minister of Religion.
How long can I stay?
Under Tier 2, you can apply for Entry Clearance or for Leave to Remain.
For Entry Clearance applications, you can arrive in the UK up to 14 days before your start date. The Entry Clearance will be granted for the following lengths of time:
- With a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa as a Long-Term Staff member, you can come to the UK for whichever is the shorter of the period of the employment contract plus 1 month or 5 years plus 1 month based on the job start date.
- With a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa as a Graduate Trainee, you can come to the UK for whichever is the shorter of the period of the employment contract plus 1 month or 12 months based on the job start date.
- With a Tier 2 (General) visa, you can come to the UK for the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus one month or a maximum of 5 years and 1 month, whichever is shorter.
- With a Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa or a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa, you can come to the UK for whichever is shorter between the period of your employment contract plus 1 month, or 3 years plus 1 month based on the job start date.
How long will does a Tier 2 application take?
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you start working in the UK. The decision should take about 3 weeks.
How will Brexit affect Tier 2 applications?
There are currently about 2.3 million EU nationals working in the UK. Brexit means that EU nationals may need to apply as a Tier 2 skilled worker after we have left the European Union. However, only about 30,000 businesses in the UK have a licence to sponsor Tier 2 applications.
We have much more information about Brexit here and you can read about the current so-called Chequers plan here. We cannot see the future, so we cannot say for sure whether EU nationals will have to apply under Tier 2. There is currently a cap on the number of Tier 2 migrants that can be accepted. This cap (20,700 per year) is often hit, putting serious pressure on the NHS. This will only grow after Brexit.
Therefore, the rules for non-EEA national skilled workers may change after Brexit, and there may be a special system put in place for EU nationals currently in the UK. Applying Tier 2 visas to EU nationals may be the simplest solution. There has been a concerted effort to reduce the number of Tier 2 visas given by the Government, but if EU nationals were also included, the cap would have to be increased, and the salary requirements may need to be changed too. Further, the licence for businesses to sponsor applications may need to be re-thought, for example having a separate licence for EEA nationals and non-EEA nationals, so that more businesses can sponsor Tier 2 applications.
Read more about Brexit
- Weekly Immigration News Digest 7th – 20th July 2018 (7/20/2018)
- Weekly Immigration News Digest 23rd – 29th June 2018(7/29/2018)
- Weekly Immigration News Digest 16th – 22nd June 2018(6/22/2018)
- Repeal Bill – All You Need to Know (Brexit, The Facts)(7/17/2017)
- New guidelines from the Home Office for EU citizens in the UK (7/4/2017)