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Posted on July 08 2020

How to apply for the UK work visa?

By  Editor
Updated February 27 2024

If you are a skilled professional and wish to work in the UK, you must apply for the Tier 2 visa. You are eligible to apply for this visa if you have a job offer from an employer in the UK.  To apply for this visa, you must meet the following salary requirements:

  • £20,800 per annum for first-time employees
  • £30,000 for those with job experience

Watch video: How to apply for UK Skilled Worker Visa


Tier 2 visa application

The Tier 2 Visa is a points-based visa and applicants must score a minimum of 70 points for their application to be considered. The points are awarded on the following factors:

  • Possession of an employer's Certificate of Sponsorship
  • If you are receiving an appropriate salary
  • Communication skills in English
  • Amount of maintenance funds that you have

The Tier 2 work visa has many subdivisions that cover a range of professionals eligible to work in the UK.

  • Tier 2 General Visa: For workers who have a job offer in the UK and whose profession appears on the shortage occupation list
  • Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa: For workers of corporations transferring to the UK
  • Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa: For ministers of religions within a religious organization
  • Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa: For coaches and sportspersons

Tier 2 visa applications are evaluated on the basis of the UK’s point-based system. One must have at least 70 points to qualify for the visa. You can score 30 points with a job offer with an employer sponsorship certificate. You can score another 30 points if your occupation finds a place in the Skills Shortage list. With these 60 points it will be relatively easy to get the remaining points to qualify.


Finding a UK employer who can sponsor a Tier 2 visa It will be easy to find one in the ‘Register of Sponsors Licensed Under the Points-based System’ which is available to the public. This contains a list of all the employers who have the permission to sponsor international employees. In the register you can find information such as:

  • Name of the company
  • Its location
  • Tier and sub-tier of the visa the company can sponsor
  • Rating of the organization

Improving your chances of getting a job with a Tier 2 sponsorship Check if your occupation is on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL): The SOL is published by the UK government, and it contains the list of occupations facing a shortage of professionals. This list shows the skills in demand and it will be easy to obtain a job if you have the skills to work in these occupations. This list is regularly updated by keeping track of the skill shortages within the country. With the current situation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic and the impending Brexit, the list of occupations in the SOL is only expected to increase.


Look for occupations that are in high demand: Some occupations not necessarily in the SOL will always be in high demand, these can be temporary workers in the agricultural sector. Sectors such as manufacturing, and service sector industries are also facing a shortage of workers. There is also a demand for healthcare workers. The point is there is no shortage of jobs for those who are keen to find employment.


Take the help of an international recruitment agency: You can get in touch with recruitment agencies to find a job in the UK. Some of these agencies may be involved in sourcing workers for UK companies while some may focus on filling specific roles with international employees. The recruiter will share your profile with the employers who are looking for people like you and will also help you build a suitable profile to attract UK employers and initiate the interview process.


Look out for fresh graduate positions: If you are a fresh graduate, you can try in any of the numerous UK companies that are looking for fresh graduates. For this you will need to do some legwork much before your final year because most of these companies start their recruitment process early. It will also give you time to prepare for fulfilling any additional requirements of these companies. These can be specific work experience or language certifications.


Make use of online job search sites: You can use online job databases to find the role you are looking for in the UK. These roles are advertised with an indication that they have a Tier 2 sponsorship. This will make your job hunt easier. You can also use advanced search options to look for employers who are looking for candidates from outside the EU or EEA.


Use social media to enhance your job search: Social media sites such as LinkedIn give you an opportunity to be discovered by UK employers provided you have created the right profile. You can also find suitable job openings through such sites. You can target specific companies and their personnel through these sites.


Application process

You can make your application for the UK work visa at any of the UK visa application center in your home country.

You will have to submit the following documents along with your Tier 2 visa application.

  • a valid passport or travel ID
  • evidence that you can support yourself financially for the duration of your stay (e.g., bank statements or sponsor confirmation)
  • proof of English language ability
  • proof of payment of the healthcare surcharge

After you complete the visa application form, you should book an appointment at the UK visa application center in your home country.


The visa processing time is usually three weeks but also depends on the country where you are applying from. You can apply for this visa three months before you begin working in the UK. The starting date will be mentioned in the certificate of sponsorship you will receive from your UK employer.


The duration of work visa depends on the length of your job contract. If you have not exceeded the maximum duration for your visa type, you can extend your stay. You will need to apply for an extension, either online or at a premium service center for UK visas.


You can stay for a maximum of 5 years and 14 days on the Tier 2 visa or the duration mentioned on your certificate of sponsorship (plus 1 month) whichever duration is shorter.


UK Graduate Route This was introduced in July 2021. The new option will allow you to apply for a visa to stay in the UK for two years after finishing your studies, allowing you to look for work or begin work at any skill level, or three years if you have a PhD. It's a flexible post-study work visa that doesn't need you to have a job offer or employer sponsorship before applying. It will enable you to look for or accept work in any skill or field. Anyone with a valid visa (Tier 4 or Student Route) who graduates from a UK degree on or after July 1, 2021, is eligible for the Graduate Route. There are no restrictions on subject area or country when it comes to eligibility. The new Graduate Route does not grant indefinite authorization to stay and work, and it cannot be renewed. If you want to stay and work in the UK after the two-year time is up, you'll need to switch to a different visa. For instance, the Skilled Worker visa, which requires employer sponsorship, has replaced the old Tier 2 work visa. Graduates opting for this route can change jobs, work flexibly, and build their career in the two-year window.


UK Skilled Worker Visa

The Skilled Worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 visa. The Tier 2 visa allowed skilled workers from other countries to come to the UK to fill job vacancies on a long-term basis for various skilled occupations in fields that include IT, Accountancy, Teaching, and Healthcare.


With the implementation of Brexit from beginning of 2021, European Union (EU) citizens will be treated on par with citizens of other nations. As long as the UK was a member of the EU, those from EU countries had a right to work in the UK. With Brexit they will no longer have this right and will have to apply for a work visa just like others.


This is why the Skilled worker visa is being introduced. The visa will be based on the points-based system.

There are currently two main routes available to overseas job seekers wishing to work in the UK

1. Tier 2 (General) for highly skilled workers.

2. Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) for highly skilled workers from multinational companies who are being transferred to the UK branch.


The Skilled Worker visa will cover more people


It will apply to both EEA and non-EEA citizens

The skill level threshold will be lower-At present job roles that require a Degree or Master’s qualification are eligible for sponsorship (RQF level 6 roles) but with the Skilled Worker visa, sponsorship will be available to even lower-skilled workers (RQF level 3).


Baseline minimum salary requirement will be lower-Since the skill threshold has been lowered, the baseline salary requirements will be reduced. The employer will have to pay a minimum salary of 25,600 pounds or the ‘going rate’ for the position, whichever is higher.


No requirement for the Resident Labor Market Test


No limit on the number of applicants

Flexibility to acquire the required points-The Skilled Worker visa is based on a points system; so, you can use the various points criteria to your advantage to get the required number of points to apply for this visa. You need 70 points to qualify for this visa.


While it is mandatory to have a job offer from an approved sponsor, if you have a job at the appropriate skill level and have English language skills at the appropriate level you will score 50 points.


You can gain the remaining 20 points if you are hired for a job where you are paid at least £25,600 a year.


You can gain these extra points if you have better qualifications

  • 10 points if you have a relevant PhD
  • 20 points if you have a PhD in science, technology, engineering or math
  • 20 points if you have a job offer in a skill shortage occupation

Eligibility requirements

You must have a score of 70 points to qualify in the defined parameters like specific skills, qualifications, salaries and professions.


You need to have a Minimum Bachelor's degree or equivalent with 2 years of skilled work experience from the eligible occupations list.


You must have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor.


The job offer must be at the required skill level – RQF 3 or above (A Level and equivalent).


You must meet the English Language requirement at B1 level in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.


You should also meet the general salary threshold of £25,600, or the specific salary requirement for the occupation or the ‘going rate’.


Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) requirement

You must get a certificate of sponsorship for the job you have been selected for to get your Skilled worker visa. The Certificate of Sponsorship must be issued by the employer who has selected you.


You can stay on the visa for a maximum of five years from the start date in your Certificate of Sponsorship.



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