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Tier 2 (General) visa
Overview
Eligibility
Knowledge of English
Documents you must provide
Apply
Extend your visa
Switch to this visa
Family members
Taking a second job

1. Overview
You can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa if:

you’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK
you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
Getting sponsored
You need to be sponsored - ie have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor - before you can apply to come to the UK to work.

The work you do in the UK must relate to the work of your sponsor organisation.

How long it will take
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK.

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

You can check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in your country.

Fees
How much you pay for a Tier 2 (General) visa depends on your situation, where you are and how you apply.

How long you can stay
You can come to the UK with a Tier 2 (General) visa for a maximum of 5 years and 14 days, or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 1 month, whichever is shorter.

Your stay must start no more than 14 days before the start date on your certificate of sponsorship.

You can apply to extend this visa for up to another 5 years, as long as your total stay is not more than 6 years.

What you can and can’t do
You can:

work for your sponsor in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship
do a second job in the same sector and at the same level as your main job for up to 20 hours per week
do a job which has a shortage of workers in the UK for up to 20 hours per week
do voluntary work
study as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job you’re sponsored for
travel abroad and return to the UK
bring family members with you
You can’t:

own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares (unless you earn more than £153,500 a year)
get public funds
start working before you get the visa
apply for a second job until you’ve started working for your sponsor
You’ll need to make a new application if you want to do a second job that’s not in the same sector as your main job.

2. Eligibility
You must have all of the following to be eligible for a Tier 2 (General) visa:

certificate of sponsorship reference number
an ‘appropriate’ salary
meet the English requirement
£900 in savings (£945 from 1 July) - this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
You don’t need to have £900 in savings (£945 from 1 July) if your sponsor is fully approved (‘A-rated) and they have stated on your certificate of sponsorship that you won’t claim benefits during your stay.

There are some additional rules if you’re currently in the UK on a Tier 4 (General) visa and you want to switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa.

Certificate of sponsorship
A certificate of sponsorship is a reference number which holds information about the job and your personal details. It’s not an actual certificate or paper document.

Your sponsor will give you your certificate of sponsorship reference number.

They must also give you some other information to help you to apply, eg how much you’ll be paid.

You’ll need to add your certificate of sponsorship reference number to your application form - you can only use it once.

Appropriate salary
The job you’re offered must pay £20,500 or more, unless your current or last permission to stay in the UK is as:

a Tier 2 (General) migrant before 6 April 2011
a Jewish agency employee
operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order
a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
a work permit holder
an unregistered nurse but your salary will be at least £16,271 while you are doing your supervised practice or £21,388 after you have Nursing and Midwifery Council registration - and you’ll still be sponsored as a nurse by the same sponsor after you’re registered


3. Knowledge of English
You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree
You may be able to meet the English language requirement in other ways or need a higher level of English in some circumstances. Check the full visa guidance for detailed information.

Exceptions
You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:

Antigua and Barbuda
Australia
the Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Canada
Dominica
Grenada
Guyana
Jamaica
New Zealand
St Kitts and Nevis
St Lucia
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
USA
You also may not have to prove your knowledge of English in other circumstances - check the visa guidance.


4. Documents you must provide
When you apply you’ll need to provide:

a current passport or other valid travel identification
a passport-sized colour photograph
bank statements showing you’ve had at least £900 in savings (£945 from 1 July) continuously over the last 90 days, or your sponsor’s certification that they can support and accommodate you for the first month you’re employed
proof that you meet the English requirement
your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
You’ll need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

You’ll need to provide a certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh.

Read the guide for a full list of documents you can provide.

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.


5. Apply
You should read the full policy guidance before you apply.

Apply outside the UK
You must apply online for a Tier 2 (General) visa.

You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.

You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

Cuba and North Korea

You can’t apply online if you’re applying from one of these countries

Download the form and appendix.

Read the instructions for:

Cuba
North Korea
Apply in the UK
You can only extend your existing visa or switch to this visa if you’re already in the UK.



6. Extend your visa
You may be able to apply to extend your stay in the UK under a Tier 2 (General) visa.

You should include any dependants who are on your current visa on your application to extend - including children who have turned 18 during your stay.

You should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility
You must have current permission to enter or stay as one of the following:

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
Tier 2 (General)
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
You must also meet the following conditions:

you have the same job as when you were issued your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK
you’re still working for the employer who assigned your certificate of sponsorship
you’re still earning an ‘appropriate salary’ - read the guidance if you’re not sure
You must be in the UK to extend your visa.

How long you can stay
You can extend your stay in the UK with a Tier 2 (General) visa for up to another 5 years.

?You can’t stay in the UK under a Tier 2 (General) visa for more than a total of 6 years.

Fees
Check the fee for your type of visa.

How to extend your visa
You should read the full guidance on the Tier 2 (General) visa before you apply.

Within the UK you can:

apply online
download the form and apply by post - the address is on the form
download the form and use the premium service at a premium service centre
How long it takes
A decision will be made:

within 8 weeks for postal and online applications
within 10 days if you are able to use the Tier 2 priority application service
usually on the same day if you use the premium service
You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example because:

your supporting documents need to be verified
you need to attend an interview
of your personal circumstances (eg if you have a criminal conviction)
Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.

If you change your job
You may need to apply to extend your Tier 2 (General) visa application if:

you want to change your job and your new job is with a different employer
your job changes to a different standard occupation classification (SOC) code
your job is taken off the shortage occupation list
your changes of job means you are paid less than the amount stated on your certificate of sponsorship or work permit
You won’t need to make a new application if you’ll be staying with your current employer but your job will change in other ways - eg if you want to change to a job in the same SOC code, or if your pay will increase.

You must have a new certificate of sponsorship and you must meet all other application conditions, but you won’t need to send evidence in support of your application if you’ve sent it for a previous Tier 2 application.

You can continue working for your previous sponsor until the start date on your new certificate of sponsorship if your current permission to stay is still valid.

You should not start your new job until you’ve received your biometric residence permit with your new permission

7. Switch to this visa
You can apply to change (‘switch’) from another visa to a Tier 2 (General) visa.

You should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility
You must already be in the UK under any of the following visas or schemes:

Tier 1 visa
Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa
Tier 2 (Minister of religion) visa
Tier 2 (Intra company transfer: established staff) visa and you’re applying to change sponsor
Tier 2 (Intra company transfer) visa under the Immigration Rules in place before 6 April 2010 and you’re applying to change sponsor
Tier 4 visa, or you’re on another kind of student visa - read ‘Switching from a Tier 4 visa’ below
Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Creative and sporting) for a job as a professional footballer and you meet the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) requirements
Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
Innovator Scheme
Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
International Graduates Scheme (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme)
Business and Commercial work permit (except multiple entry work permits)
Sports and Entertainment work permit (except multiple entry work permits)
You can also switch to a Tier 2 (General) visa if you’re:

a dependent partner of someone with a Tier 4 visa
a Jewish agency employee
operational ground staff of an overseas-owned airline
a minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order
an overseas qualified nurse or midwife
writing up a thesis
a postgraduate doctor or dentist
a representative of an overseas business
a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
a student union sabbatical officer
You must leave the UK and make your Tier 2 (General) application from abroad if you’re not in any of these categories.

Switch from a Tier 4 or other student visa
You must have got 1 of these qualifications from your student visa if you want to switch from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 (General) visa:

a UK bachelors degree
a UK masters degree
a postgraduate certificate in education
a professional graduate diploma of education
The other student visa categories are:

student
student nurse
student re-sitting an examination
overseas qualified nurse
person writing up a thesis
postgraduate doctor or dentist
student union sabbatical officer
PhD students

You must have completed at least 12 months’ study for your PhD during your most recent stay in the UK and had permission to take the qualification.

You must have got your qualification at a UK recognised body or an institution that has a Tier 4 sponsor licence.

How long you can stay
You can stay in the UK for up to 5 years after switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa.

Fees
Check the fee for your type of visa.

How to apply to switch your visa
You should read the guidance on the Tier 2 (General) visa before you apply.

From within the UK you can:

apply online
download the form and apply by post - the address is on the form
download the form and use the premium service at a premium service centre
How long it takes
A decision will be made:

within 8 weeks for postal and online applications
within 10 days if you are able to use the Tier 2 priority application service
usually on the same day if you use the premium service
You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example because:

your supporting documents need to be verified
you need to attend an interview
of your personal circumstances (eg if you have a criminal conviction)
Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.



8. Family members
Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:

your husband, wife or partner
your child under 18
your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant
Read the guidance on dependant applications before you apply.

Savings
You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.

Each dependant must have £600 available to them whether they apply with you or separately. This is in addition to the £900 you must have to support yourself.

You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.

Example
You must have £2,100 if you want to bring your partner and 1 child with you to the UK (£900 to support yourself plus £600 for your partner and £600 for your child).

You won’t need evidence of your savings if you have a letter from your fully approved (‘A-rated’) sponsor saying they’ll provide 1 month’s funding of at least £600 for each of your dependants.

Dependants applying from outside the UK
Your family members must apply online.

They’ll need to have their fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of their application.

They may be able to get their visa faster or other services depending on what country they’re in - check with the visa application centre.

Cuba and North Korea

Your family members can’t apply online if they’re applying from one of these countries.

Download the form and guidance.

Read the instructions for:

Cuba
North Korea
Dependants applying in the UK
Your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visas to stay with you if they’re already in the UK. They should apply using the dependant application form.

Send your dependants’ applications at the same time as yours.

Your family members can’t apply in the UK as your dependant if they hold a visitor visa.

Children born while you’re in the UK
If you have children while you’re in the UK, you can apply for permission for them to stay.

You must do this if you want to travel in and out of the UK with your child.

Complete the application form and send a full UK birth certificate showing the names of both of your child’s parents.



9. Taking a second job
You’ll need to make a new Tier 2 (General) visa application if you want to do a second job that isn’t in the same sector as your main job or isn’t voluntary work. You can do a second job (up to 20 hours a week) that is on the shortage list without making a new application.

You’ll need to be sponsored by your second employer and get a new certificate of sponsorship if you make a new application.

You can’t:

apply until you’ve started work with your first sponsor
start work with your second sponsor until your application has been approved
How to apply
You should read the guidance on the Tier 2 (General) visa before you apply.

You can either:

apply online
download the form and apply by post - the address is on the form
download the form and use the premium service at a premium service centre
You must be in the UK to apply.

Documents you must provide
You’ll need to provide some documents with your application.

You must also include a letter with your application explaining that you want to change your current permission to stay.

Your letter must state:

your name
your date of birth
your current certificate of sponsorship reference number
the date when your current permission to stay runs out