1. Overview

You can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa if:

Getting sponsored

You need to have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor before you can apply to come to the UK to work.

The work you do in the UK must relate to the work of your sponsor organisation.

How long it will take

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you’re due to start work in the UK. This date 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.

You can check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in your country.

Fees

How much you pay for a Tier 2 (General) visa depends on your situation, where you are and how you apply.

Tier 2 General (up to 3 years)

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Extend or switch in the UK Extend or switch in person in the UK (premium service)
You £587 £677 £1,267
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £532 £622 £1,212
All dependants £587 each person £677 each person £1,267 each person

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

Tier 2 General (up to 3 years) - shortage occupation

A shortage occupation is a skilled job where there is a shortage of workers in the UK.

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Extend or switch by post in the UK Extend or switch in person in the UK (premium service)
You £446 £446 £1,036
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £391 £391 £981
All dependants £446 each person £446 each person £1,036 each person

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

Tier 2 General (more than 3 years)

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Extend or switch by post in the UK Extend or switch in person in the UK (premium service)
You £1,174 £1,354 £1,944
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £1,119 £1,299 £1,889
All dependants £1,174 each person £1,354 each person £1,944 each person

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

Tier 2 General (more than 3 years) - shortage occupation

A shortage occupation is a skilled job where there is a shortage of workers in the UK.

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Extend or switch by post in the UK Extend or switch in person in the UK (premium service)
You £892 £892 £1,482
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £837 £837 £1,427
All dependants £892 each person £892 each person £1,482 each person

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

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.

Your stay must start no more than 14 days before the start date on your certificate of sponsorship.

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 can’t do

You can:

  • work for your sponsor in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship
  • do a second job
  • do voluntary work
  • study as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job you’re sponsored for
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • bring family members with you

You can’t:

  • 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’ve started working for your sponsor