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UK: Tier 2 visa details revealed

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The UK Border Agency has published details about the upcoming Tier 2 visa for skilled workers. Tier 2 is expected to replace the current UK Work Permits scheme and international intra-company transfer regulations in Autumn of 2008.

Tier 2 is part of the UK's new five-tier points based system which will replace some 80 different employment, student, and training based immigration routes into the UK.

Under Tier 2, employers can hire overseas workers if a vacancy is covered under the shortage occupation list or the employer has submitted a Resident Labour Market test. This test shows that a non-European Union/European Economic Area resident could not be found to fill the vacancy. A Tier 2 visa can be obtained for up to a renewable period of three years.

Newly published details lay out the points prospective applicants can score to be successful in their application for a Tier 2 visa. Migrants must score a total of 70 points under three areas: Attributes, Maintenance, and English Language Ability.

Under the Attributes section, prospective migrants workers can score a maximum of 50 points for their certificate of sponsorship, which they obtain from their future employer. They can also score a maximum of 15 points for their highest level qualification, such as a bachelor's degree. In addition, they can score up to 20 points for their prospective earnings.

Under the Maintenance section, migrants must score 10 points showing they have the required funds in a savings account to support their stay in the UK. The required funds are 800 GBP for the main applicant and an additional 600 GBP for each dependants the migrant worker would bring to the UK.

For English Language ability, migrants must score 10 points showing that they have the required level of English language proficiency. This can be proven through test results from an eligible English language exam, by being a citizen of a majority English-speaking nation, or by having earned a degree taught in English.

The Maintenance and English Language Ability sections of the points test are mandatory -- to be successful in their application, migrant workers MUST score the required 10 points in each section.

Employers wishing to hire non-EU/EEA nationals will need to apply for the ability to act as a sponsor. Employers must satisfy certain requirements to be granted permission to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to prospective foreign workers, such as paying the appropriate fee and complying with immigration regulations.

For further information on the upcoming Tier 2 visa, see our UK Immigration Tiers section for skilled workers. Our website also has information on other immigration tiers -- in particular, our Tier 1 visa section for General Highly Skilled Migrants, which went into effect for applicants in the UK and India in recent months.