1. Overview

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

Getting sponsored

You need to be sponsored (ie 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.

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 £575 £664 £1,164
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £520 £609 £1,106
All dependants £575 each person £664 each person £1,164 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 £437 £437 £937
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £382 £382 £882
All dependants £437 each person £437 each person £937 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 £1,151 £1,328 £1,828
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £1,096 £1,273 £1,773
All dependants £1,151 each person £1,328 each person £1,828 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 £873 £873 £1,373
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £818 £818 £1,318
All dependants £873 each person £873 each person £1,373 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 in the same sector and at the same level as your main job for up to 20 hours per week
  • do a job which has a shortage of workers in the UK for up to 20 hours per week
  • 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 £155,300 a year)
  • get public funds
  • start working before you get the visa
  • apply for a second job until you’ve started working for your sponsor

You’ll need to make a new application if you want to do a second job that’s not in the same sector as your main job.