The Tier 2 visa is now one of the most important entry routes into the United Kingdom for skilled workers who are citizens of countries outside of the European Economic Area. In all cases, if you are applying for entry under this visa scheme you MUST be in possession of a job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK employer with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence. You must fulfil the requirements of the particular Tier 2 visa for which you are applying.
Tier 2 has four categories:
- General: for people coming to the United Kingdom with a job offer to fill a position that cannot be filled by a settled worker. In 2011, an annual cap on the number of Tier 2 (General) visas was introduced. It currently stands at 20,700. People who earn £150,000 a year or above are excluded from the cap.
- Intra Company Transfers: for employees of multi-national companies who are being transferred by an overseas employer to a skilled job in a UK-based branch of the organisation.
- Sports People: for elite sportspeople and coaches whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level.
- Ministers of Religion: for those people coming to fill a vacancy as a Minister of Religion, Missionary or Member of a Religious Order *.
To qualify for inclusion under the Tier 2 (General) or the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) visa, a job must require a skill level of S/NVQ level 3 or above as indicated in the codes of practice relevant to the sector and to the job.
Ministers of religion and sports people on temporary assignment should apply for entry under Tier 5 for Temporary Workers (Tier 5 (creative and sporting) visas last for twelve months. Tier 5 (religious) visas last for up to two years).
Some people who are in the UK with other UK visas can apply under Tier 2 (General).