Tier 2 (General) visa

Tier 2 (General) visa

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The Tier 2 (General) visa is the main UK visa route for skilled workers coming to the UK to take up employment. In order to apply for this visa, applicants must have a job offer from a UK employer, who holds a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence. Holders of the Tier 2 (General) visa are permitted to bring their dependents to the UK on a Tier 2 Dependent visa. Such migrants are eligible for permanent residence, Indefinite Leave to Remain, in 5 years and for citizenship after 6 years after initial entry to the United Kingdom.

The Tier 2 (General) visa is a point-based UK work visa, issued to highly skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland, who have a job offer from a UK employer for a skilled job or for a job which is listed on the Shortage Occupations List. To be eligible to apply for this visa, applicants must be issued with a certificate of sponsorship by their UK employer, who must hold a valid Tier 2 sponsor licence.

In order to apply for the visa, the applicant has to be employed by a licenced sponsor who will perform the necessary checks to ensure that the applicant is properly equipped to do the job they’re hiring them for. Applicants will be assigned an electronic certificate of sponsorship, which will hold their personal details and information about the job they have been offered, such as the salary and the start and end date of the employment. The sponsor will also provide the applicant with a certificate of sponsorship reference number to add to their application.

The Resident Labour Market Test must be carried out before the certificate of sponsorship is issued to the applicant. As part of the test, the job in question must be advertised by the sponsor (employer) to workers from within the European Economic Area (EEA). If the sponsor does not find a suitable candidate for the occupation from workers within the EEA, they can then offer it to the applicant. There is no need to carry out the test if the job appears on the Tier 2 Shortage Occupations List, comes under the tier 2 Intra-company transfer visa or in certain limited circumstances.


Applicants can come to the UK with a Tier 2 (General) visa for a maximum of 5 years and 14 days, or the time given on their certificate of sponsorship plus 1 month, whichever is shorter.

Eligibility Criteria for Tier 2 (General) visa:

In order to apply for this type of visa, an applicant will need to meet a number of requirements.


The applicant should be from outside European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland and have been offered a skilled job by an employer who is based in the UK and has a valid sponsor licence.


Further requirements include being offered an appropriate salary and having sufficient maintenance funds.


Our specialist and experienced advisors provide thorough advice on meeting the requirements and all the specified documentary evidence.


Successful applicants can:

  • Work for their sponsor in the job described on their certificate of sponsorship
  • Do a second job in certain circumstances
  • Do voluntary work
  • Study, as long as it does not interfere with the job they’re sponsored for
  • Travel abroad and return to the UK
  • Bring family members as dependants

Successful applicants cannot:

  • Own more than 10% of their sponsor’s shares (unless they are earning more than £159,600a year)
  • Receive public funds
  • Apply for a second job until they’ve started working for their sponsor


Switching to the Tier 2 (General) visa:

It is possible to switch to the Tier 2 (General) visa category if the applicant is already in the UK on any of the following visas:

  • Tier 1 visa
  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa
  • Tier 2 (Minister of religion) visa
  • Tier 2 (Intra company Transfer) visa under the Immigration Rules in place before 6th April 2010 and are applying to change sponsor
  • Tier 4 visa - if they have an eligible qualification or have completed at least 12 months of a PhD
  • A dependent partner of someone with a Tier 4 visa
  • A representative of an overseas business

The application to switch to Tier 2 (General) from any of these categories must be made in the UK and before the current visa expires.

Processing time:

Applicants can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day they’re due to start work in the UK. This date will be listed on their certificate of sponsorship.

  • Applicants should get a decision on their visa within 3 weeks when they apply from outside the UK.
  • Priority Service may be available at some visa application centres for entry clearance applications which should result in a decision within 10 – 15 days. 
  • For applications submitted from within the UK by switching from a different visa category, the processing time is approximately 8 weeks with standard service
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Our experts have decades of experience and a proven track record in successfully delivering expert legal advice and representation in all aspects of UK immigration, throughout the entire immigration process.

We will prepare your application for submission to the Home Office and guide you through the whole process. Our dedicated Immigration lawyers have an established reputation in providing expert, effective and efficient legal support for a full range of services to suit your individual needs. including visa/entry clearance and extension applications, indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and British passport and citizenship applications.

We have a wealth of experience advising on all aspects of Tier 1 (Investor), Start-up and Innovator Visa applications, as well as providing end-to-end immigration assistance on businesses and on the development of strategic immigration plans. We provide complete support, from sponsor licence applications and management and compliance training and audit services, to full support helping to obtain initial Tier 2 work visas for employees and further extensions.

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