Overview

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

Getting sponsored

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’re hiring you for and if it qualifies you for a visa. They’ll 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’ll be paid.

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.

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.

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 £610 £704 £1,314
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £555 £649 £1,259
All dependants £610 each person £704 each person £1,314 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.

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 £464 £464 £1,074
You - as a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £409 £409 £1,019
All dependants £464 each person £464 each person £1,074 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.

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 £1,220 £1,408 £2,018
You - as a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £1,165 £1,353 £1,963
All dependants £1,220 each person £1,408 each person £2,018 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.

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 £928 £928 £1,538
You - as a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £873 £873 £1,483
All dependants £928 each person £928 each person £1,538 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.

You can start your stay up to 14 days before the start date on your certificate of sponsorship.

Example
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 can’t do

You can:

  • 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 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