1st Aug 2021

Tier 2 & Skilled Worker Visas: A Guide

On the 1st December 2020, as a result of Brexit, a new Points Based Immigration System was implemented in the UK. The Skilled Worker Visa was introduced as part of the new system and replaces the Tier 2 (General) Visa. It brings with it some important changes. All overseas nationals will now be required to obtain a new Skilled Worker Visa prior to working in the UK for an approved sponsor.

You’ll need the right visa to come to the UK and work in the role that is detailed on your Certificate of Sponsorship. You can also undertake supplementary employment, normally for a maximum of 20 hours per week, as long as the job is either in the same occupation code and at the same level as your main job or is on the shortage occupation list.

Study is also permitted, subject to obtaining an ATAS certificate where required. However, access to public funds is not permitted. A list of public funds can be found on the government website.

What happens if I already have a Tier 2 (General) Visa?

Those who are currently in the UK with a Tier 2 Visa do not need to do anything. Your visa will continue to be valid until its expiration date. 

If a Tier 2 Visa holder is required to extend their visa or change employment, they will be able to make an application to do this under the new Skilled Worker system. 

Can I switch into a Skilled Worker Visa from within the UK?

Yes, as long as you currently have valid Leave to Remain in another category. 

However, if you have or were last granted leave as a visitor, short-term student, parent of a child student, seasonal worker, domestic worker in a private household or outside of the immigration rules, you will need to return to your country of residence in order to apply. 

Can my family members live with me?

Both Tier 2 and Skilled Worker Visa holders can bring their dependent partner and their children under the age of 18 years old to the UK. Those family members are required to obtain Skilled Worker Dependent Visas. 

If dependent partners are unmarried, they are required to provide proof that they have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years prior to the application in order to be eligible. 

Can my family members work or study in the UK whilst on Tier 2 or Skilled Worker Dependent Visa?

Yes, the only restriction being that they cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training or a professional sportsperson.

Children who are over 16 years old will, in most cases, be required to continue to live with the sponsored worker throughout the duration of their visa. In order to be eligible, they should continue to be financially dependent on the sponsored worker and not be living an independent life. 

Dependants are permitted to study full time. If attending university, they will be required to pay international university fees.

Will my child be eligible for British Citizenship if they are born in the UK?

Your child will not be automatically eligible for British Citizenship at birth if the parents hold a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker Visa. However, they can obtain a Skilled Worker Dependants Visa in line with their parents. 

Once at least one parent obtains Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, then your child will be eligible to register for British Citizenship under section 1(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981. In this case, your child does not need to obtain ILR before applying to register as a British Citizen.

Do I need to obtain a visa for my baby born in the UK?

It is not mandatory to obtain a visa for a baby born in the UK, but it will be necessary to do so if they are going to travel overseas or want to make extended use of the NHS.

It is important to note that without a dependent visa, babies will only receive free NHS treatment up until the age of 3 months. If they do not obtain a visa, then the parents will be liable to pay for any NHS treatment that their child receives beyond that point.

The Immigration Health Surcharge is payable when submitting the dependent visa application. Once the visa is granted, they will have full access to the NHS.

Before applying for a Skilled Worker dependent visa, your child will first be required to obtain a passport from the relevant Embassy in the UK. They will need to submit their full UK Birth Certificate and evidence of the parent’s immigration status. Their dependent visa can then be applied for online.

Do I need to inform UKVI if I change address or if my circumstances change?

Yes, you must report any relevant change to your circumstances. This includes a change of address or change of name. You can do this online via the government website.

You do not need to inform UKVI when you renew your passport.

What if I lose my Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)?

The process for obtaining a new visa or BRP depends on whether you lost it in the UK or overseas. Firstly, you must report this as soon as possible. Information on this process can be found on the government website.

If you believe that your BRP has been stolen, you should first obtain a police report.

If your new BRP has not arrived or is not available to collect from the designated Post Office, you can report this on the government website, and UKVI will then contact you to arrange a redelivery.

Why is the end date on my BRP the 31st December 2024?

This validity date is standard for all BRPs, and it is a requirement by the EU. BRPs issued after this date will incorporate the next generation of encryption technology.

Whilst the card will expire on the 31st December 2024, there is no need to renew the BRP at the moment. It will be replaced free of charge, and UKVI will publish information on how to get a replacement nearer the time.

What are the rules for leaving and re-entering?

As a Tier 2 or Skilled Worker Visa Holder, you can leave and re-enter as much as you like so long as your main residence continues to be in the UK. Your overseas travel must be approved as leave by your employer.

What happens if I need to spend longer overseas?

If you need to spend a prolonged period overseas (due to urgent, medical or compassionate reasons), then it is strongly advised that you contact both your employer and an immigration advisor as soon as possible to understand any implications for your UK immigration status. As a precaution, you should keep any evidence of the reasons as to why you were required to spend time abroad.

To qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you should not have been absent from the UK for any more than 180 days in any 12 months in the five years prior to the application. 

When can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

After you have been in the UK with the appropriate visa for five years, you are invited to apply for ILR. 

The five years can start from the date that your entry clearance visa was issued (even if you did not enter the UK on this date). You can apply up to a maximum of 28 days prior to meeting the 5 years continuous residence.

What’re the criteria for ILR?

To apply for ILR, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • English Language proficiency
  • Sponsorship
  • Immigration status
  • Life in the UK Test
  • Continuous Residence
  • Other general requirements

What if I am eligible for ILR before my dependent family members?

Even if you obtain ILR, your family members’ Tier 2 or Skilled worker dependent visas will remain valid until their expiration date.

From there, an application for further Leave to Remain can be made. This takes family members up to the applicable qualifying period to be eligible for ILR. Additionalfive leave will be granted for three years at a time. 

What if my current visa expires before my new extension or ILR Visa is granted?

If you submit your online application for your new visa while your current visa is still valid, it will be extended beyond the expiration until a decision has been made on your new visa. This is according to Section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971. 

When can I apply for British Citizenship?

In most cases, after you’ve held ILR for 12 months. However, if you are married to a British Citizen, you can apply for citizenship as soon as you have obtained ILR.