The Tier 2 visa is the main UK visa route for skilled workers coming to the UK to take up employment, usually paying a salary of at least £20,800 per annum for “new entrants” and £30,000 for “experienced workers”. In order to apply for this visa you must have a job offer and a certificate of sponsorship from a UK employer with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence. The Tier 1 General Visa Category for independent skilled immigration to the UK without a job has not been available for new applicants since April 2011. Therefore for many skilled workers the only option is the Tier 2 visa category, Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa or in some cases the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa.

This guide is split into the following sections:

  • Length of stay
  • Required maintenance funds
  • Tier 2 salary requirements
  • Taking up new or additional employment

Tier 2 General Visa Length of Stay

Up to 5 years and 14 days, or up to one month after the period stated on your certificate of sponsorship (whichever comes first), and up to 6 years with extensions. If you apply for a Tier 2 visa in the UK as a “new entrant” the maximum initial period you can extend the visa by is three years and one month.  After three years and one month as a new entrant you will have to be paid the experienced worker rate to extend your tier 2 visa.

You can apply for indefinite leave to remain twenty-eight days before the five year period ends in the UK if you meet the following salary requirements:

  • £35,500 if applying on or after 6 April 2018
  • £35,800 if applying on or after 6 April 2019
  • £36,200 if applying on or after 6 April 2020.

Tier 2 Maintenance Funds

In many cases the Tier 2 sponsorship licence employer will guarantee maintenance which will meet this requirement.  Most employers are “A rated” and are allowed to do this.  Alternatively, Tier 2 General applicants as well as Tier 2 Intra-company transfer visa applicants must show that they have funds of at least £945, and that at no time over the last ninety days has the balance in their bank account gone below this figure.

Tier 2 Visa Salary Requirements

The job stated on a Tier 2 certificate of sponsorship must pay an ‘appropriate’ salary. In most cases you need to pay at least £30,000 per annum at the experienced worker rate.

If you currently have a long term visa in the UK and can switch to a tier 2 visa you may be able to come under the lower salary requirement of £20,800 per year as a new entrant. For example, Tier 4 visa students who have finished their degree can come under this lower “new entrant” requirement.

In most cases for both experienced workers and new entrants you also need to have a look at the codes of practice for skilled workers usually at a RQF Level 6 occupation to confirm the minimum salary requirement. If the rate is higher in the codes of practice then you will have to pay at least at this rate.

If you are currently based outside the UK and need to apply for UK entry clearance for a visa, or are currently in a visa category such as Tier 5 Youth Mobility that requires you to apply for tier 2 visa entry clearance then you will need to have a restricted CoS.  This means at times the salary requirements to gain a tier 2 visa may fluctuate.  Tier 2 visas for those who need to apply for visas from outside the UK come under the quota system.  At times of high demand there may be a shortage of restricted CoSs which will mean in most cases that you will need to have more points and a higher salary to gain enough points for a restricted CoS.

There are exceptions for certain groups, workers whose previous OR current permission to enter the UK fall under the following categories have different salary rules:

  • Tier 2 (General) visa holders whose visas were granted before April 2011
  • Employees of a Jewish agency
  • Ground staff employed by an airline based outside of the UK
  • Religious workers, including ministers, missionaries, and religious order members
  • Workers employed by a media organisation – such as a newspaper or television news station – based outside of the UK
  • Work permit holders
  • Unregistered nursing staff

Tier 2 Visa and New or additional employment

Tier 2 Workers on this visa who wish to leave their job and work for a new employer will need a new Tier 2 visa.  The new employer will need a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and will most likely have to do the Resident Labour Market Test.  Tier 2 visa holders are free to work for an additional 20 hours per week in the following circumstances:

  • In another job on the shortage occupation list or a job in the same sector and at the same professional level as the work for which the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) was assigned.
  • Outside the working hours covered by the CoS for the Tier 2 Visa.

Further information, help, and advice

VenturaQA’s recruitment team of specialists has 10 years of experience in visa services, and have helped hundreds of people to work in the UK and other Countries.

For more information and advice on UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on +44 20 7993 6880 or email us on