Tier 2 (General) visa applicants must score 70 points on the Tier 2 points test to be eligible for a visa. The table below gives a detailed breakdown of how points are allocated for the Tier 2 visa category. The employer needs to firstly have a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and have assigned a certificate of sponsorship to the overseas worker. In many cases the employer would have had to have undertaken a resident labour market test to show that local workers are not available to do the job.
This guide is split into the following sections:
- Summary of Tier 2 points conditions
- Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
- Tier 2 visa appropriate salary
- English language
- Tier 2 visa maintenance requirements
Having a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
Receiving an Appropriate Salary for the job in question
Meeting the English Language criteria
Having enough Maintenance funds
In order to apply for a Tier 2 UK visa, you must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the employer who has offered you a job. The employer must have a Tier 2 Sponsorship licence and have been issued with a The CoS confirms that you have a job offer which meets the following conditions:
- The employer has met the conditions of the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), or the job is exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test condition. To meet RLMT requirements the job must have been advertised to workers from the European Economic Area before being offered to the applicant from outside the EEA. More information can be found on our Resident Labour Market Test page.
- Your Tier 2 (General) application will be made no more than 3 months after the CoS is issued, and you will start work no more than 3 months after your visa application is made.
- The job in question meets the Tier 2 minimum skill level requirement, which should be checked in the Codes of Practice for Skilled Workers. This means it must usually be Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 6 or above, or RQF level 4 or above if it is on the Tier 2 Shortage Occupations List, or it is in certain creative fields such as dance, theatre and opera, and television and film.
There are two types of Certificate of Sponsorship: restricted and unrestricted. Those prospective employees based outside the UK will need a restricted certificate of sponsorship.
- Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship are for prospective employees who are based abroad, and planning to work in the UK in a role paying less than £159,600 a year, unless the job is an inward investment post. Please note that to be included in the quota in a particular month you need to apply by the 5th of the month. There is a monthly allocation meeting for restricted certificates (usually 1000-2000) and an annual cap of 20,700. Prospective employees based in the UK who are eligible to change status to a Tier 2 visa do not come under the Tier 2 Visa Cap and usually do not need a restricted COS. The exception is for partners of Tier 4 visa holders who wish to switch to a Tier 2 visa. These applicants do need a restricted certificate of sponsorship.
- Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship are for prospective employees who are already in the UK (except dependent family members of Tier 4 visa holders) or are outside of the UK and will be working in a role which pays £159,600 a year or more, or will be working in an inward investment post.
Restricted CoS Points
Please note again that this is only relevant in a situation where you need to employ someone resident outside the UK, or employ someone who needs to apply for a visa from outside the UK for some other reason. To be able to obtain a restricted CoS the employer needs to gain a certain number of points. You need to add the points from each column below. For example, passing the resident labour market test would give you twenty points and being offered a salary of £30,000 per annum would give you thirty points, resulting in a total of fifty points. Historically most of the time people have gained enough points to gain a restricted CoS under the quota. However, this is certainly not guaranteed to happen. As can be seen below those in the shortage occupation list or in a PhD level occupation, or with a high salary gain the most points.
It should be noted that doctors and nurses now find it easier to qualify for the tier 2 visa scheme, as they no longer come under the cap and the restricted CoS system since 6 July 2018. This includes all occupations under SOC codes 2211 medical practitioners which includes doctors, psychiatrists, and surgeons, and 2231 nurses which includes psychiatric nurses, health visitors, and district nurses.
Type of job
For every £1,000 up to a maximum of 160 points.
PhD level occupation code and job passes resident labour market test or an exemption applies.
Resident labour market test met by the ‘milkround’provisions and the individual being sponsored meets the ‘post study work’ provisions, other than they will be applying for entry clearance rather than leave to remain.
The job is in one of the following public service occupations:
• 2217 Medical radiographers
• 2314 Secondary education teaching professionals – subject teachers in maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin only
• 3213 Paramedics and the job passes the resident labour market test or an exemption applies
Job passes resident labour market test or an exception applies
Tier 2 (General) applicants must have a job offer which pays an appropriate salary. The appropriate salary varies by job, and by your level of experience. In general less experienced 'new entrants' must be paid at least £20,800 per annum, while experienced workers must receive at least £30,000, or the appropriate rate based on the SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) code for the job in the Codes of Practice for skilled workers, whichever is higher.
Applicants come under the new entrant salary rate if all of the following conditions apply:
- Aged 25 or under, or has recently been on a degree level course or higher in the UK and is switching from a Tier 4 visa to a Tier 2 visa (no age restrictions).
- The combined total for periods of stays under Tier 2 visa should not be more than 3 years and one month. For example if you have been in the UK already on a Tier 2 General visa for one year (under any salary rate) then you can apply for an additional two years and one month stay under the Tier 2 General visa category.
Applicants come under the experienced worker salary rate if the above conditions do not apply. The appropriate salary for experienced worker applicants in the Codes of Practice depends on when their first Certificate of Sponsorship with any employer was granted:
- If the Certificate of Sponsorship was granted before 24 November 2016
- The job must pay the appropriate experienced rate salary based on its SOC code or the minimum salary is £20,800 (whichever is higher).
- If the Certificate of Sponsorship was granted on or after 24 November 2016
- The job must pay the appropriate experienced rate salary based on its SOC code, OR £30,000 (whichever is highest).
Tier 2 visa applicants must meet the English Language requirement, meaning they must meet at least one of the following conditions. Applicants meet the English language requirement if they:
- Are a citizen of a majority English speaking country (see table below)
- Hold a degree which is equivalent to a UK Bachelor's degree or higher, which was taught or researched in English (UK NARIC evaluation required if not taught in a majority English speaking Country)
- Have passed a recognized English language test with at least a B1 score Council of Europe’s common European framework for language and learning.
- Have previously met the English Language requirement during a grant of leave in the UK
- Qualify under transitional arrangements (this is rare)
Majority English Language Speaking Countries outside UK to meet Tier 2 Visa English language requirements.
Antigua and Barbuda
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
St Kitts and Nevis
The United States of America
Approved English Language Tests for Tier 2 Visa at B1 or above include:
You must have reached the required level in all areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening. MUST BE AN UKVI VERSION OF THE TEST
Integrated Skills in English (level B1, B2, C1, or C2)
Passes in reading, writing, listening, and speaking
Graded Examinations in Spoken English (level B1)
IELTS for UKVI (level B1)
4.0 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking
IELTS for UKVI (level B2)
5.5 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking
IELTS for UKVI (level C1)
7.0 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking
IELTS for UKVI (level C2)
8.5 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking
Most Tier 2 sponsors guarantee their prospective employees’ maintenance by stating on the Certificate of Sponsorship that they will cover the applicant's maintenance and accommodation for the first month of employment in the UK. Only 'A rated' sponsors have this option which covers the vast majority of employers with tier 2 sponsorship licences.
If their employee does not guarantee maintenance then Tier 2 applicants must prove, with bank statements or other documents, that they have personal funds of at least £945, and have had this money continuously for a 90 day period ending no more than 31 days before the date of the Tier 2 application.
Applicants are exempt from this condition if they already have entry clearance, leave to enter, or leave to remain under a Tier 2 visa.
Further information, help, and advice
Workpermit.com has been in the immigration business for thirty years and has helped thousands of people live and work in the UK from around the World. We represent clients under Section 84 of the 1999 immigration act and can submit your UK visa application to the Home Office to be dealt with on the same day.