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UK TIER 2 VISAS – SKILLED WORKER

 

This is for skilled workers sponsored by employers holding a Tier 2 Sponsor licence issued by the UKBA to come to the UK either to fill a job for which no suitable employee is available from the resident labour market (Tier 2 (General)), or for people already working for a company outside the European Economic Area who are required to join their employer’s UK office on a temporary basis (Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer)). Tier 2 also has separate subcategories for Ministers of Religion and for Sportspeople.

TIER 2 (GENERAL)

This type of visa is for UK-based employers to sponsor skilled workers from outside of the EEA to come and work in the UK. The applicant’s job must be one that cannot be filled from the resident labour market.

Applicants are subject to an annual limit. The UKBA restricts the number of Certificates of Sponsorship (COSs) which sponsors can issue in any one month.

Employers wishing to sponsor Tier 2 (General) applicants must apply to the UKBA for a proportion of the monthly allocation. A further PBS has been established to determine which employers can successfully obtain Certificates of Sponsorship at each monthly allocation.

Applications for leave to remain in the UK are not subject to any limit, nor are applications for entry clearance if the applicant will earn £150,000 or more annually.
Applicants must be sponsored to do work for which they will be paid a minimum salary of £20,000. Also, the level of salaries must be consistent with the UKBA's published codes of practice relevant to defined areas of work.

The UKBA also publishes a list of "shortage occupations". People who intend to work in these areas do not need to satisfy a "resident labour market test".
Certificates of Sponsorship issued to applicants seeking to work in the UK in areas outside the shortage occupations must indicate that a resident labour market test has been carried out to demonstrate that there is no labour in the UK already available to fill the job position.

Applicants must also satisfy an English language requirement, demonstrating that they have a command of English at an "intermediate" level. However applicants who were granted entry clearance under the pre-April 2011 Rules are exempt from this requirement.

All applicants must show that they have funds of £900 or more at the time of their applications. Applicants whose Tier 2 sponsors certify in the Certificate of Sponsorship that they will maintain and accommodate the applicant for the first month of the applicant's employment if necessary are exempt from this requirement, as are applicants seeking to extend their existing leave to remain under Tier 2.

Successful applicants will be given leave to enter the UK for the duration of their employment plus 1 month, up to a maximum of 3 years plus 1 month.

Applicants can apply to extend their leave to remain in the UK but the length of this period of extension varies according to the nature of the applicant's previous leave to remain. Applicants who previously had leave to remain under the immigration categories which preceded Tier 2 will be given sufficient leave to remain to take their aggregated leave to remain to a total of 5 years. Where the applicant is a Tier 2 migrant and is working for the same employer and doing the same job as he or she was doing when previously granted leave, the amount of leave to remain will be for the period of employment plus 14 days up to a maximum of 2 years. Other applicants will obtain leave for the period of their employment plus 14 days, up to a maximum of 3 years.
Applicants who are granted this type of visa must not have recourse to public funds and must not work for any employer other than their Tier 2 sponsor.

It should be noted that there are strict new rules whereby the leave to enter or remain in the UK granted to any Tier 2 (General) migrant who does not turn up for the work for which he or she is sponsored must be curtailed.

TIER 2 (INTRA-COMPANY TRANSFER)

This type of visa is for skilled workers wishing to move from a branch of a company located outside the European Economic Area (the EEA) to a UK branch of the same company.

An applicant’s sponsor can assign to them a Certificate of Sponsorship without having to fulfill the requirements of the resident labour market test. There is currently no limit on the number of applicants who can be granted entry clearance under this type of visa.

There are four subcategories of Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer). Applicants in the short-term staff and long-term staff subcategories must have been working for the company for a period of at least 12 months prior to their applications. These subcategories are for people coming to work in the UK in a capacity which could not be filled by a recruit from the company’s UK workforce. Short-term staff can be granted leave to enter the UK for up to one year, and long-term staff for up to five years.

Applicants in the graduate trainee subcategory must have been working for the company for a period of at least three months. Skills transfer applicants need only show that they are employed by the company at the time of their application.

Annual salaries for applicants in the short-term staff category must be at the UK level for their job and must not be less than £24,000. Short-term staff are admitted to the UK for a maximum period of 12 months, after which they must leave the UK. They cannot return to the UK in the short-term staff, skills transfer or graduate trainee subcategories for a further 12 months.

Applicants in the long-term staff subcategory must be paid the UK-equivalent annual salary for their job, which must be at least £40,000. They would be granted stay in the UK initially for a maximum period of three years and one month. This period can be extended by application to a maximum of five years. They cannot return as a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) migrant for another 12 months.

Applicants in the graduate trainee and skills transfer subcategories must also be paid an annual salary of at least £24,000. They are admitted to the UK for a maximum period of 12 months and six months respectively, after which they must leave the UK. They are not allowed to return in either of these subcategories or as short-term staff for another 12 months.

A Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) migrant who has previously been granted leave in one of the short-term staff, graduate trainee or skills transfer subcategories will not be required to spend 12 months outside the UK before they can return in the long-term staff subcategory.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) migrants who are already in the UK under the Rules in place before 6 April 2011 can apply to extend their stay without being subject to the new graduate-level job requirement or the new salary thresholds. Those who are currently here in the established staff subcategory in place before 6 April 2011 can continue applying to extend their stay beyond five years.

There is no language requirement for applicants in the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) category unless they are extending their leave in the UK to beyond a total of three years. The only requirement is for a command of English language at level B1 of the Common European Framework.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) migrants must meet a maintenance requirement. They must show that they have funds of £900 or more at the time of their application. Applicants whose Tier 2 Sponsors certify in the Certificate of Sponsorship that they will, if necessary, maintain and accommodate the applicant for the first month of the applicant’s employment are exempt from this requirement, as are applicants seeking to extend their existing leave to remain under Tier 2.

TIER 2 (MINISTER OF RELIGION)

This type of visa is for people to work as religious workers with recognised religions. This includes preachers and pastoral workers. Those applying as Ministers of Religion must satisfy a resident labour market test and must have a command of the English language higher than that for applicants under the other subcategories of Tier 2. Those who comply with these requirements will acquire the necessary points to be granted entry into the UK.

TIER 2 (SPORTSPERSON)

This subcategory is for people and their coaches who are established at the highest level internationally in their sport. Their employment in the UK must make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level in the UK. The class of applicants is defined by their sponsors, which will generally have been approved by the sport's governing body.

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