The main requirements in order to qualify for a General Tier 2 Visa are that you have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from an appropriately registered employer, that your salary is within an appropriate range, and that you have the required level of English.
Not every employer in the UK is allowed to sponsor a skilled migrant worker in this way - they must apply to gain a Sponsor Licence before they have the ability to issue employers with a Certificate of Sponsorship. This is a non-trivial process that brings with it numerous responsibilities and duties, and there are record keeping and other compliance issues in order to get and keep your status as a licensed employer. So you first need to make sure that your employer holds a valid Sponsor Licence and can issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship.
The minimum appropriate salary for a skiller worker to come to the UK is around £20,800, though there are exceptions relating to your current or last visa - please contact us for more information.
As with many other visas, the requirement to communicate effectively in English can be met by passing a certified English Language test, or by holding a degree-level qualification that was taught in English (recognised by UK NARIC), or if you are a citizen of a country that is recognised as English-speaking.
There is also usually a requirement to prove you have sufficient savings to support yourself and any dependants you will bring with you - though there are exceptions to this should you already be living in the UK with a valid visa, or if your Sponsor confirms that you will not require state benefits because they will guarantee to maintain and accommodate you.
Also there are some additional regulations should you wish to switch from a Tier 4 (General) Visa for Students to the Tier 2 (General) Visa for Skilled Workers - again please contact us for more information.
Tier 2 Visa applications can be made up to three months before arriving in the UK, and decisions usually take around three weeks. If successful, you can arrive in the UK up to 14 days before the start date mentioned on your Certificate of Sponsorship. If your application is urgent or you have limited time then we can arrange a Same-day or a 10-day priority service to ensure that your application is processed as quickly as possible - please contact us for details.
Fees associated with your visa application depend on things like whether the role you are applying for is on the list of 'shortage occupations', as well as on the length of time you will be working in the UK. An additional healthcare surcharge is payable.
With this visa you will be permitted to remain in the UK for a maximum period of 5 years and 14 days, unless your Certificate of Sponsorship specifies a shorter period. You can apply to extend your visa for an additional period of up to 5 years, though there is an overall maximum period allowed of 6 years in total. After 5 years of living in the UK under this visa it may be possible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), and from there you may go on to apply for Naturalisation or Citizenship.
As with all other visas, you have certain rights and restrictions that affect your stay in the UK.
Once you have received your Tier 2 (General) Visa, you are allowed to work for the employer in the specific role you set out in your Certificate of Sponsorship and application - a role which has to be connected to the work of the business or organisation that sponsored you.
However under certain circumstances you can also undertake certain other types of work while you are in the UK - for instance for up to 20 hours per week you can perform a similar role for another employer, or you can perform a role for which there is a shortage of UK workers. Note that this second job has to be in a similar industry - if you wish to work in a completely different sector you will have to submit a fresh visa application.
You can also undertake voluntary (unpaid) work, or study - obviously as long as this doesn't negatively affect your job with your sponsor organisation. You cannot start work before you receive your visa, nor can you apply for a second job until your first job has begun.
You have the right to travel abroad and then come back to the UK during the period of your visa, and you are entitled to bring family members with you. However you will not have recourse to public funds while staying in the UK under this visa. Nor can you own more than 10% of your sponsor's shares (except where your annual salary exceeds £155k per year).
There are several rules that apply to employers wishing to sponsor a skilled worker under either this type of visa or under the Tier 5 (Skilled Temporary) category - for example you must offer an appropriate rate of pay, and the job must demand an appropriate level of skill.
Unless the job you are recruiting for is listed on the approved 'shortage occupation list', you need to advertise the job in an appropriate manner. This test is designed to make sure that there is a genuine need to recruit from overseas, rather than simply filling the post with someone who is already settled in the UK.
Additionally the business or organisation will need to register as a Sponsor with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and obtain a Sponsor Licence - though this alone does not guarantee that any subsequent Tier 2 (General) Visa application will necessarily be successful.