General work Visa (Tier 2)
You can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa if:
- you have been offered a skilled job in the UK,
- you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
You need to be employed by a licensed sponsor to apply to live in the UK.
Your sponsor checks that you can do the job they are hiring you for and if it qualifies you for a visa. They will assign you a certificate of sponsorship to prove this.
They must also give you other information you need when you apply, for example how much you will be paid.
How long it will take
The earliest you can apply for a visa is 3 months before you are due to start work in the UK. The date you can start is listed on your certificate of sponsorship.
You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.
How much you pay for a Tier 2 (General) visa depends on the type of visa and where you are.
You will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you will have to pay before you apply.
If you are applying to extend or switch in the UK
You will need to pay to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.
Get a faster decision on your application
If you are applying to extend or switch in the UK you can pay extra for the priority service to get a decision within 5 working days.
You can also pay extra for the super priority service to get a decision:
- by the end of the next working day after providing your biometric information if your appointment is on a weekday,
- 2 working days after providing your biometric information if your appointment is at the weekend.
Working days are Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays.
Once you have got your decision letter, your biometric residence permit will take up to 10 working days to arrive.
How long you can stay
You can come to the UK with a Tier 2 (General) visa for a maximum of 5 years and 14 days, or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 1 month, whichever is shorter.
You can start your stay up to 14 days before the start date on your certificate of sponsorship.
Your start date is 15 July - the earliest you can start your stay is 1 July.
You can apply to extend this visa for up to another 5 years, as long as your total stay is not more than 6 years.
What you can and cannot do
- work for your sponsor in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship,
- do a second job in certain circumstances,
- do voluntary work,
- study as long as it does not interfere with the job you are sponsored for,
- travel abroad and return to the UK,
- bring family members with you.
- own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares (unless you earn more than £159,600 a year),
- get public funds,
- apply for a second job until you have started working for your sponsor.