If you have a job offer with a UK company, and are not from the EU/EEA, you may need to apply for a Tier 2 visa in order to work in the UK.

A Tier 2 (General) visa is for 'skilled workers' and enables you to work full-time in the UK. To apply, you'll need to have a job offer from company with a Tier 2 sponsor licence, and your employer must provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).

To be able to issue you with a CoS, your employer must:

  • Hold a Tier 2 sponsor licence
  • Offer you a "graduate level" job (in most cases)
  • Offer the minimum applicable salary. Note that this can vary depending on the occupation

When to apply for the Tier 2 visa

If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate student, you can apply when you have completed your degree programme, or in the three month period before your expected completion date.

If you are intending to apply before you complete your studies or before you receive your transcript or degree certificate, you can contact the International Student Advice Service.

If you are a PhD student, you can apply for a Tier 2 visa after you have completed at least 12 months of your PhD course (this means 12 months after your transfer viva). You'll need to contact the International Student Advice Service for a reference letter confirming your eligibility.

Requirements

To be eligible for a Tier 2 visa, you must meet the following requirements:

English Language

If you have graduated from a UK university with an undergraduate or postgraduate degree, you'll automatically meet the English language requirement. You should provide your degree certificate with your visa application.

Please note that if you are applying for your Tier 2 visa after you have completed your programme, but before you have received your certificate, you will need to meet the English language requirement through one of the alternative methods listed in the Tier 2 Policy Guidance. Please contact the International Student Advice Service if you are unsure.

Maintenance

You must ensure that you have enough money, in an eligible format, to meet the financial requirements before you apply for a Tier 2 visa.

Full details on the financial requirements, including how much money you will need can be found in the Tier 2 Policy Guidance. The money must be held in a bank account in your name and you must provide evidence that it has been there for at least 90 consecutive days.

Applying within the UK

You can apply to switch from your Tier 4 visa to a Tier 2 visa within the UK, as long as you make your application before your current visa expires.

Please note that not all visas are eligible to switch into Tier 2 from within the UK. If you have a visa which is not Tier 4, please contact the International Student Advice Service for advice. 

When you are switching to a Tier 2 visa within the UK, you will benefit from the following concessions: 

  • Your CoS will be 'unrestricted'. This means that your application does not fall into the monthly limit set by the government
  • Your employer does not need to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)

Applying from outside of the UK

If you are applying for your Tier 2 visa from outside of the UK, you will not benefit from the concessions listed above. Your CoS is likely to be 'restricted' unless it is on the shortage occupation list. This means it will be subject to a monthly cap set by the UK government.

Your employer will also need to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) for your job.

Seeking employment with a Tier 2 sponsor

When you are seeking work and intend to apply for a visa under the Tier 2 route, you should always check that your prospective an employer is on the register of Tier 2 sponsors. If they are not, they won't be able to issue you with a CoS.

When you are in communication with a prospective employer, we recommend that you:

  • Mention the two concessions listed above, if you intend to apply from within the UK
  • Clarify that you hold a current visa and (if applicable) have the right to work in the UK
  • Confirm that you have completed your studies, or when you are due to complete your studies

The information on this page is correct at the time of writing. Whilst we try to make sure the information we provide is accurate, immigration policy changes frequently. You should therefore always refer to the official gov.uk website to ensure that you have up-to-date information: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration