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The Tier 2 (General) visa: The UK needs your skills

by John Dunn | Jun 09, 2016
  • The Tier 2 (General) visa is the most popular visa option for professionals who want live and work in the UK. This visa category has an associated skills shortage list, which the UKVI updates every year. The Shortage Occupation List gives preferential status to visa applicants who work in the nominated career fields. Your skills might make you an eligible candidate.
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    Understanding the Tier 2 (General) visa

    A Tier 2 (General) visa allows you to live and work in the UK. The visa is valid for an initial three year period. This can be extended for a further two years if certain criteria are met. After five years you may be eligible for indefinite leave to remain.

    The visa works on a points-based system. Points are awarded to applicants for the following:

    • The qualifications you hold
    • Your future expected earnings
    • Whether or not you have sponsorship
    • English language skills
    • Sufficient available funds prior to application

    To be eligible for a Tier 2 (General) visa, you must have the qualifications required for the position you have been granted. Usually, the salary offered by your employer must exceed £20,800 for you to meet the income threshold for this visa category, but this varies from occupation to occupation.

    Fast track your visa application with the Shortage Occupation List

    Certain occupations are currently in high demand in the UK; these appear on the skills shortage list. If there is a shortfall of workers in your occupation, your Tier 2 (General) visa application will be fast tracked.

    Employers wishing to fill occupations that are on the skills shortage list do not have to advertise locally for the position. Occupations that do not appear on the list require UK employers to demonstrate to UKVI that there are no UK citizens who can fill the role. .

    If you are planning to immigrate to the UK to live and work, you should start by consulting the skills shortage list.

    Currently, there is a great need for teachers, nurses and pastors in the UK. These are by no means the only occupations on the skills shortage list, so be sure to check the list or [contact one of our consultants] to see what you options are.

    How you can be awarded a Tier 2 (General) visa

    There are three steps that must be followed when lodging an application for a Tier 2 visa:

    1. Employer’s sponsorship licence and certificate of sponsorship
    2. Lodging an application

    The sponsorship licence and certificate of sponsorship

    You will need to secure an offer of employment from a UK employer. This employer must approach UKVI and apply for a sponsorship licence if they do not already have one. 

    Once an employer is an approved sponsor, they receive a certificate of sponsorship. This certificate confirms that a non-resident may apply for the position nominated on the certificate.

    The certificate of sponsorship will have a unique number which you will use to apply for your visa.

    Lodging your application for your Tier 2 (General) visa

    To apply, you will need a unique certificate of sponsorship number as well as proof that you meet the other Tier 2 (General) visa requirements.

    If your occupation is not on the shortage list, your employer must be able to demonstrate that the role cannot be filled by a suitably qualified or experienced resident worker.

    Anyone considering living and working in the UK should have a read through the list to see if they have any particular skills that will enable employers to fast-track their visa application process.

    Contact one of our immigration experts to find out if your skill is on the Shortage Occupation List. Whether your skill is on the list or not, we can help you apply for your visa. Give us a call on +27 (0) 21 657 2122 or +44 (0) 20 7759 7581.

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.


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