So, what is the Tier 2 UK visa?

So, what is the Tier 2 UK visa?

The Tier 2 Immigration route is one of the most popular ways for non-EU citizens to live and work in the UK.

This type of UK visa is linked to a specific UK employer. Familiar terms associated with the Tier 2 immigration route are the Shortage Occupation List and Resident Labour Market Test.

Persons not familiar with the UK immigration terms, often get confused about the Tier 2 processes. They also often mistakenly believe that the Shortage Occupation List plays a role in other immigration routes.

What is the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List?

The Shortage Occupation List indicates specific jobs identified by the UK government as being positions for which there are not sufficient workers in the UK at present.

The UK Home Office thus make it somewhat easier for overseas nationals to come to the UK to take up any position that meets the requirements of the Shortage Occupation List.
The Shortage Occupation List is not updated very often. The most recent change was in November 2015, when the occupation of nurses was added to the list. The Home Office is, however, able to amend the list at their discretion.

Popular positions on the Shortage Occupation List are the Chef positions, Nurses, IT/Web development, IT business analysts, Architects and some other software development positions.

What is the Tier 2 Visa process?

The Tier 2 visa is linked to the sponsoring UK employer.

If the position offered to the employee is not included on the Shortage Occupation List, then the position needs to be advertised to determine whether a suitable person can be found within the UK workforce. This process is known as the Resident Labour Market Test. Note that there are some other exemptions from the Resident Labour Market Test, such as when the position in question carries a guaranteed salary package of at least £159,600+ per annum.

If the position offered is on the Shortage Occupation List, there is usually no need for the Resident Labour Market test to be conducted. The notable exception to this rule is for Nurses. Whilst Nursing positions are covered by the Shortage Occupation List, the Home Office has specified that companies seeking to offer Nursing positions to migrant workers still have to complete the Resident Labour Market Test.

Once the Resident Labour Market Test is completed, and assuming that this process clearly demonstrates that the company has not been able to find a suitable employee from within the UK’s settled workforce, then the next phase for the company is to obtain a Sponsor Licence. A Sponsor Licence is the overriding permission granted by the Home Office to companies to allow them to sponsor migrant workers under the Tier 2 system.

To obtain a Sponsor Licence the company in question must evidence that it has a need to hire a migrant worker to undertake a qualifying position. They must also provide documents to show that the company is registered and trading in the UK.

A Sponsor Licence is valid for 4 years once it has been issued by the Home Office.
Once the Sponsor Licence is in place the next stage is to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for use in a specific migrant’s Tier 2 (General) application. Certificates of Sponsorship are electronic documents which relate to a specific migrant seeking sponsorship under the Tier 2 system. It is also sometimes possible, in certain circumstances, to include the CoS application as part of the Sponsor Licence application.
Companies must obtain a new Certificate of Sponsorship every time they wish to sponsor (or continue to sponsor) a migrant worker.

What about entry clearance to the UK?

Once the UK Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is approved, an application based on this CoS has to be prepared for the applicant and their dependents (if applicable) to enter the UK. The applicant and their dependents must meet the requirements set by the UK Home Office and submit the Entry Clearance applications in their home country.
The applicant will then obtain entry clearance in line with how long the company have stated that they will require them for the position, which could be up to a period of five years.

For more information about the Tier 2 visa process, contact Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants at 


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