The Tier 2 part of the Points-Based System is based on the principle that you will be sponsored by your employer (Sponsor) and will have to keep working for them to keep the visa. If you would like to change a company (or sometimes a job within the same company) you would have to apply for a visa all over again, usually meaning being sponsored by another employer.
We are often asked if it is possible to obtain this visa without a job offer, to come to the UK and look for a Sponsor. The answer is No, this category first requires a job, then you can apply for a visa – to conduct that job.
Tier 2 category under Points-Based System has 4 sub-categories:
If a company wishes to sponsor you it has to have a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence. All Tier 2 sponsors can be found on the official Register. If a company does not have a licence yet they can make an application to obtain it. Our company can help with such applications, including when a licence is needed urgently, such as when the migrant’s current UK visa is about to expire. Our ‘record’ is 3 working days from the point of submission to the Home Office, although we cannot guarantee it in each case!
Sponsor licence is issued for the company, it is not connected to the migrant (not connected to the employee). A licence is, in general, for the company to sponsor migrant workers.
Once the company has a licence, an authorised person can login to the Home Office system and assign a certificate of sponsorship. Such a certificate will be about an individual migrant, with his/her name, passport details, job details, salary etc.
This is where your Sponsor has to put a job title, occupation code (SOC code) and specify your salary. The trick is to get it right, otherwise your application will be refused. Getting a COS does not mean getting a visa!
Not every job can be sponsored, generally it has to be a skilled Level 6. It also requires a minimum salary, a requirement which has so far created a great deal of confusion. There is a minimum salary of £20,800 (from 6 April 2015), yet some applications with that salary are refused. Why? Because this is just a ‘minimum’ and not the exact calculation. Even a thing like a number of hours of work per week is very important. Plus there are New Entrant and an Experienced levels. Contact us for an ADVICE SESSION, we have plenty of experience with this!
In some cases a job has to be also advertised first, to see if a settled worker can be found. This is known as a Residence Labour Market test. If advertising is required, it has to be done before a COS is assigned. Sometimes it is not required, such as if you are extending to work for the same employer in the same job (but not in a different job) or if switching from a Tier 4 Student visa (under certain, very strict, conditions).
Some Tier 2 General applicants would need a restricted COS. These are for those applying outside the UK and due to the annual limit on Tier 2 General newcomers. there is no limit on applications inside the UK, extensions or switching (such as switching from Tier 4 Student visa to Tier 2). The only in-country applications that are restricted by the annual limit are switching from a Tier 4 Dependant visa (not the main Tier 4 visa) and sponsoring Croatian nationals.
This is a very last step and this is where you would finally need to submit your passport for a visa stamp or a biometric visa card and also add evidence of English and Maintenance. The previous 2 steps are to be done by your Sponsor and they have to get it 100% right. This is the only point where someone at the Home Office will be examining your COS (until then it’s just stored in the system). If there is a mistake on your COS, the whole application falls apart.
It’s worth remembering that a Tier 2 category is not as points-based as it sounds. Yes, there are points but it could have just as well been a list of requirements. There is no such thing as a passmark or scoring some of the points. You either score ALL of the points or you don’t get a visa at all (plus there are requirements outside the points table, like General Grounds for Refusal, such as criminal history or overstaying).
Most common problems:
– Salary on the COS is not ‘appropriate’ for your SOC code type of job, eg not high enough, despite being at least £20,800.
– SOC code chosen on the COS is not at the right level, for example, not at Level 6.
– Resident Labour Market test (advertising the job) was not conducted while it should have been.
– Resident Labour Market test was conducted but not according to the Home Office guidance.