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Immigration to UK as a Tier 2 General - Work Permit

What is the skilled worker category?

The skilled worker category (Tier 2 General) is for people coming to the United Kingdom with a skilled job offer to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker.

Who can apply as a skilled worker?

Before you apply under the skilled worker category (Tier 2 General), you must have:

  • a sponsor; and
  • a valid certificate of sponsorship.

When you apply you are awarded points based on your:

  • qualifications;
  • future expected earnings;
  • sponsorship;
  • English language skills; and
  • available maintenance (funds).

You can apply under the skilled worker category (Tier 2 General) now if you are:

applying for permission to enter the United Kingdom (known as 'entry clearance') under the sponsored skilled worker category (Tier 2 General) (see initial applications);

in the United Kingdom with permission to stay (known as 'leave to remain') in an immigration category that allows you to switch into the sponsored skilled worker category (Tier 2 General)(see how to switch in to the skilled worker category);

already in the United Kingdom as a sponsored skilled worker (Tier 2 General) and want to extend your permission to stay within your existing category.

How long can you stay for?

If you are given permission to stay as a skilled worker (Tier 2 General), you will be able to live and work in the United Kingdom for a maximum time of three years plus one month, or the time given in your certificate of sponsorship plus one month, which ever time is shorter.
At the end of the three years, you will need to apply to extend your stay as a skilled worker (Tier 2 General) if you want to stay.

If you are given permission to extend your stay in the United Kingdom as a skilled worker (Tier 2 General), you will get another two years, or the time given in your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, which ever time is shorter.

If you are given permission to extend your stay in the United Kingdom and your previous permission to stay was as a work permit holder, you can still apply under the transitional arrangements and you will get permission to stay for a time that takes you to five years in the United Kingdom. For example, if you have been here for four and a half years with permission as a work permit holder or under the transitional arrangements, you will get six months permission to stay.

You may apply for settlement once you have been here for five years. If you do not, you must apply under the points-based system and make a new application.

What category of person should apply?

You should apply if you are over 16 years old and are not a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and want to enter or stay in the United Kingdom to work in tier 2 of the points-based system.

You should apply if you are:

  • in the United Kingdom with permission to stay in an immigration category that allows you to switch into tier 2;
  • already in the United Kingdom under tier 2 and want to extend your permission to stay in your existing category; or
  • applying from outside the United Kingdom for permission to enter (known as 'entry clearance') in tier 2.

If you are a dependant of a main applicant, see Applications by dependants for information on how to apply and the dependant application form.

Sponsored students

When we talk about sponsored students, we mean students whose fees and livings costs are covered.

  • You may have been sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency in the last 12 months in any of the following categories:
  • student (or tier 4 when it launches);
  • student nurse;
  • student re-sitting exams;
  • student writing up a thesis;
  • postgraduate doctor or dentist.

If you are being sponsored now or your sponsorship ended in the 12 months before you apply, you must send us a letter from your sponsor's giving their consent to you staying or coming back to the United Kingdom. If your sponsor does not give their permission, your application will be refused.
The letter must be original on official letter headed paper of the sponsor's organisation with the official stamp of the organisation, written by an authorised official.

If you got private sponsorship during your studies, we do not need the sponsor's consent.

How many points you must score for your attributes to apply

You must have at least 50 points for your attributes to be able to apply.

Points are awarded for your attributes, which are:

Attribute Points available
Sponsorship 30-50
Qualifications 0-15
Future expected earnings 0-20

      
How many points you must score for English language

You must score 10 points for English language skills or your application will be refused.

How many points you must score for maintenance (funds)

You must score 10 points for maintenance (funds) or your application will be refused.

The points for sponsorship if you are applying for the first time

The points available for sponsorship if you are applying first time are:

Attribute Points available
Job on the shortage occupation list 50
Job that has met the resident labour market test 30
Switching from the post-study worker category 30

If you are working for a sponsor who is a limited company, you must not own more than 10% of it shares.

Job on the shortage occupation list

If you are applying for a job on the shortage occupation list, you will score enough points that you will not need points for future expected earnings or qualifications.

You must work a contracted minimum of 30 hours a week in a job on the shortage occupation list.

Your sponsor will confirm the job is on the shortage occupation list on your certificate of sponsorship so you should check with your sponsor that they have.

Job that meets the resident labour market test

Your sponsor must have advertised the job and not found a suitable settled worker before giving you a certificate of sponsorship for you to be able to claim points for a job that meets the resident labour market test.

Your sponsor will confirm the job has met the resident labour market test, so you should check with your sponsor that they have.

The points for sponsorship if you are applying to extend your stay

The points available for sponsorship if you are applying to extend your stay are:

Attribute Points available
You got your initial certificate of sponsorship under the transitional arrangements 50
You got your initial certificate of sponsorship because the job was on the shortage occupation list 50
If you have a certificate of sponsorship for any other reason 30

The points for qualifications

The points available for qualifications are:

Attribute Points available
None or under the level of a qualification below degree level  0
Qualification below degree level 5
Bachelor's or masters degree 10
PhD 15

A qualification below degree level is:

  • one or more passes at United Kingdom GCE A level;
  • a qualification from the United Kingdom that is the same as or above a GCE A level, but below degree level;
  • a qualification from outside the United Kingdom where you have the supporting evidence that is the same as or above a GCE A level, but below degree level.

You can only score points for one qualification.

Your qualification must be verified by the National Academic Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC). You can find their contact details on the right side of the page.

How qualifications are assessed

If you cannot find your qualification on the points-based calculator, you may still want to claim points for it. If so, you should contact UK NARIC directly for an assessment of the level of the qualification and, if UK NARIC confirms it is at the level needed, you must get a letter and/or confirmation certificate from UK NARIC. They may charge a fee for confirming qualifications.
If UK NARIC cannot confirm the level of your qualification, we will not award points for it.

How to claim points for vocational and professional qualifications

If you cannot find your professional or vocational qualification on the points-based calculator, you may still want to claim points, so you should get written confirmation from the appropriate United Kingdom professional body that the qualification is the same as the United Kingdom qualification levels.

Future expected earnings

The points available for future expected earnings are:

Attribute Points available
Less than £17,000 0
£17,000 - £19,999 5
£20,000 - £21,999 10
£22,000 - £ 23,999 15
£24,000+ 20

The salary bands are before tax (gross), yearly, and include any extra money (allowances) that are part of your guaranteed salary package.

If you are working in the United Kingdom on a contract for less than 12 months, you should claim points for what your earnings would be if you were working for 12 month.

We only award points for hours of up to 48 hours a week, even if you work longer. For example, if you earn £25,000 yearly for 60 hours a week of work, the same earnings for 48 hours a week would be £20,000. So you would be able to claim 10 points for your earnings.

You should ask your sponsor to confirm the salary for the job that they put on your certificate of sponsorship.

English language

Points assessment
You must have a minimum level of English language and score 10 points in this section, or your application will be refused.

How points are awarded for English language

You must have 10 points for English language.
English is the official language of the United Kingdom, and you must be able to speak English to a certain level, which includes being able to understand and use everyday expressions and very basic phrases. It is closest to level A1 of the Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference.

There are three ways that you can score points for English language. You can:

  • be a national of a majority English speaking country; or
  • pass an English language test on our list of approved English language tests (PDF 44K opens in new window); or
  • hold a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a United Kingdom bachelor's degree or above.

Maintenance (funds)

What is maintenance (funds)?

You must show that you have enough funds in personal savings and are able to support yourself for the entire length of your stay in the United Kingdom. Otherwise you may face financial difficulties, as you do not have access to most state benefits (public funds).

The points awarded for maintenance (funds)

You must score 10 points for maintenance (funds). These will be awarded if you are applying for permission to stay in the United Kingdom (known as 'leave to remain') and have:

  • £800 in available funds that you have had in your bank account for three months before the date you apply;
  • your certificate of sponsorship from an A-rated sponsor confirms that you will not claim benefits while in the United Kingdom. Your sponsor should send a letter saying they will maintain and accommodate you until the end of the first month you are here.

You must prove your maintenance (funds) by sending evidence to support your application, or your application will be refused.

Any dependants who want to join you must also give evidence that they have enough funds. See Applications by dependants for more information.

Who the transitional arrangements are for

You can apply under the transitional arrangements if you have permission to stay in the following categories at the moment:

  • qualifying work permit holder;
  • representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation;
  • member of the operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline;
  • Jewish agency employee;
  • skilled worker category (Tier 2 General) if you applied under the transitional arrangements.

You must not have currently been in the United Kingdom in a combination of any of the categories above for a total time of five years or more.

You must continue to be working for the same employer, unless you are a senior care worker or an established entertainer, doing the same job.

What are the transitional arrangements?

The transitional arrangements are that you apply under tier 2 without having to meet the requirements for the tier, but you must:

  • have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor;
  • have the certificate confirm the job is at N or SVQ level 3 or higher (except if you are applying as a senior care worker or an established entertainer); and
  • be paid the correct salary for the job.

If you do not work for a licensed sponsor, you will have to leave the country as all sponsors must be on the register of sponsors.

Who the transitional arrangements are not for

You cannot apply under the transitional arrangements if you are currently here and want to extend your stay:

  • on a multiple entry work permit. You should apply as you would an initial application from your normal country of residence and meet the requirements of the tier and category you apply under; or
  • under the training and work experience scheme arrangements;
  • under the sectors based scheme.

If you already have a multiple entry work permit or training and work experience scheme permit but have not used it to come to the United Kingdom yet, you should apply for permission to come to the United Kingdom under the rules for the permits. See Work permits for more information.

Register of sponsors

What is the register of sponsors?

All employers who want to act as a sponsor need a licence. Once they get a licence, they are added to the register of sponsors.
The register of sponsors has the name, location and rating of the organisation.
All sponsors are given an A rating or B rating when they join the register. A B rating is a transitional rating and means that the sponsor is working with us to improve their systems.

Employing migrants

Sponsors must employ migrants in jobs on the shortage occupation list or by meeting the resident labour market test for the job.

Jobs on the shortage occupation list

If you are applying for permission to stay in a job on the shortage occupation list, you will score enough points without having to earn points for prospective earnings or qualifications.

Your contracted working hours must be at least 30 hours a week in a shortage occupation job.

You should check with your sponsor that they have said the job is on the shortage occupation list on your certificate of sponsorship.

The resident labour market test

You can only come to work in the United Kingdom if there are no suitable settled British or European Economic Area workers to fill the job. The resident labour market test must be met by the sponsor before assigning a certificate of sponsorship. It includes how to advertise the job.
You should check with your sponsor that they have met the resident labour market test and have said so on your certificate of sponsorship.

Certificate of sponsorship

What is a certificate of sponsorship?

A certificate of sponsorship is not an actual certificate or paper document, but is a unique reference number, which holds information about the job and your personal details.

Your sponsor will give you your certificate of sponsorship reference number. They will also need to give you some of the information they used to assign the certificate for you to use the point-based calculator and apply, for example, the wage of the job.

Having a certificate of sponsorship alone does not mean you will be successful in applying to come or stay in the United Kingdom. You must meet the requirements of the tier and category you are applying under as well.

What is a live certificate of sponsorship?

Sponsors assign certificates using the sponsorship management system, and you can only have one live certificate of sponsorship in the system at any one time. A live certificate of sponsorship is one that the sponsor has assigned to you, but that you have not used yet to apply.
If you have given your personal details to a prospective sponsor and that sponsor assigns a certificate of sponsorship to you, then no other sponsor can assign a certificate of sponsorship to you during the time the certificate gives you permission to come or stay. So it is very important that you only give your personal details to a sponsor you intend to work for.

What your certificate of sponsorship must show

Your certificate of sponsorship must:

  • have the same details as in your passport;
  • be assigned to you by your sponsor no more than three months before the date you apply;
  • has not been withdrawn by your sponsor or us.

The certificate of sponsorship will run out if it is not used by you to apply within three months of the sponsor assigning it to you. If you apply using a certificate of sponsorship that has run out, your application will be refused. You must get a new certificate of sponsorship from your sponsor.

Sponsor duties

Your sponsor must keep:

  • a copy of your passport or United Kingdom immigration status document (you should keep the original);
  • your contact details.

Your sponsor's reporting duties

Your sponsor must report to us:

  • if you do not turn up for your first day at work;
  • if you are absent from work for more than 10 working days without the sponsor's permission;
  • if your contract of employment (including if you resign or are dismissed) or if any registration you need to work in the United Kingdom (such as with a governing body) is ended;
  • if they stop sponsoring you for any other reason, for example, if you move in to an immigration category that does not need sponsorship;
  • if there are any significant changes in your circumstances, for example, a change of job or salary (but not job title or annual pay rise);
  • any suspicions they may have that you are breaking the conditions of your permission to stay.

You must give your sponsor all the information they need to be able to meet the duties above. If you do not, we may investigate the sponsor and take action against you both.

If you are an employer, see all the sponsorship duties including record keeping, reporting, and compliance in the employers and sponsor section.

What to do if you think your sponsor is not complying with their duties

If you think you sponsor is not complying with their duties or has given false information to us about you, you must tell us your concerns.

You should contact the Intelligence Unit or sponsor licensing unit whose details you can find on the right side of this page to report any abuse of the points-based system.

Account manager or compliance officer visits

Sponsors may get a visit from our visiting officers at any time to check your sponsor is complying with their duties. During the visit, our teams may want to speak to you and other migrant workers employed.

Changes to your sponsor's licence

If Home Office are thinking about taking action against your sponsor
If you are coming to the United Kingdom
If your sponsor has been told we are thinking about taking action against them for a breach of their duties, you cannot apply for permission to come or stay even if you have a certificate of sponsorship from the sponsor. We will hold your application until we decide on the sponsor licence.
If you have a certificate of sponsorship given before we were thinking about taking action against the sponsor, and have not yet travelled to the United Kingdom, we will try and contact you to tell you not to come until we have made a decision on the sponsor's licence.
If you are already in the United Kingdom
If you have already travelled to the United Kingdom, you will be allowed to enter and start work for your sponsor.
If your sponsor's licence is suspended
If your sponsor has their licence suspended, they cannot assign any new certificates of sponsorship, but this does not affect you if you already have your certificate of sponsorship and you are already in the United Kingdom.
If you are extending your stay
You can still apply to extend your permission to stay if it runs out when your sponsor's licence is suspended as long as you already have your certificate of sponsorship. But you cannot apply to come to the United Kingdom for the first time for permission to come to the United Kingdom until the suspension is removed. We will hold your application until the suspension is removed.
If you are coming to the United Kingdom
If you have a certificate of sponsorship given before the sponsor's license was suspended, and have not yet travelled to the United Kingdom, we will try and contact you to tell you not to come until we have resolved the suspension.
If you are already in the United Kingdom
If you have already travelled to the United Kingdom, you will be allowed to enter the United Kingdom and start working for your sponsor.
If your sponsor's licence is withdrawn
If your sponsor's licence is withdrawn, all the certificates of sponsorship it has issued will become invalid.
If you are coming to the United Kingdom
If you sponsor's licence is withdrawn, your certificate of sponsorship is cancelled by us and your application will be refused.
If you have been given permission to come but have not travelled yet, your permission to come is cancelled.
If you travel to the United Kingdom, you will not be allowed to enter.
If you are already in the United Kingdom
If you are already in the United Kingdom working for your sponsors when their licence is being withdrawn, then we will limit your permission to stay

to:

  • 60 days if you were not involved in the reasons why the sponsor had their licence withdrawn;
  • immediately if we think you were involved in the reasons why your sponsor's licence was withdrawn.

We will not limit your permission to stay if you have less than six months left.

You may want to apply for permission to stay with another sponsor during this time.

If your sponsor is taken over
If your sponsor is taken over by another organisation and/or there is a transfer of employment, the new employer must apply to become a licensed sponsor within 28 calendar days of taking over the business.
If your new employer does not apply for a licence, we will limit your permission to stay to 60 days. You may want to apply for permission to stay with another sponsor. We will not limit your permission to stay if you have less than six months left.
If your new employer does not get a licence, then any certificate of sponsorship they issued is invalid.
If your sponsor does not renew their licence
If your new employer does not get a licence, then any certificate of sponsorship they issued is invalid. It is likely that we will limit your permission to stay to 60 days. We will not limit your permission to stay if you have less than six months left. You may want to apply for permission to stay with another sponsor.
If you have been given permission to come but have not travelled yet, your permission to come is cancelled.

 

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