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Important changes to the TIER 2 visa category

21 March 2011

From 6 April 2011 all migrants applying for leave to enter the UK from overseas must be coming to fill a graduate level position. Prospective Tier 2 migrants will not necessarily have to hold an academic qualification; however they will need to show the required skills to meet the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). Following the MAC recommendations the Occupational Codes of Practice were significantly amended and over 70 positions were removed from the scheme including estate agents, hairdressers as well as hotel and restaurant managers. The new requirement will apply to those making initial applications under the Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) on or after 6 April 2011. The UKBA also published a revised List of Shortage Occupations, 8 occupations were removed from the list where it was decided there is no longer a shortage of skills.

Tier 2 General

Tier 2 applications have been divided between ‘restricted’ and ‘unrestricted’.  Between 6 April 2011 and 5 April 2012 the UK sponsors will have access to 20,700 ’restricted’ Certificates of Sponsorship. However, the limit does not apply to ‘unrestricted’ COSs and sponsors will be able to request as many as they require considering that the latter will be assigned only to those applicants who:

•           receive an annual salary of £150,000 or more;

•           have worked for sponsor under Tier 2 (General) or as a Work Permit holder granted on or before 5 April 2011 and require to extend their visa;

•           change employment;

•           switch immigration category from Tier 1 PSW or Tier 1 General categories.

There will be a set number of ‘restricted’ certificates (COS) available each month thorough the year.  In April 2011 the UKBA is planning to distribute up to 4,200 COS, however, the number will then be reduced to 1,500 certificates per month and will remain at that level until 5 April 2012.

Sponsors will be able to request ‘restricted’ CoS up to three months in advance of the start date of the job and each application will be scored against a set of criteria. The certificates will be allocated on the 11th of each month and sponsors will be notified accordingly.

Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer

From 6 April the 'Established Staff' sub category will be replaced by two new sub-categories for Long Term and Short Term staff.

The Long Term category will be available to existing employees who wish to come to the UK under Tier 2 (ICT) for a period exceeding 12 months, up to a maximum 60 months in total. The job the migrant will do must be at a graduate level or above with a minimum salary of £40,000 per annum. The initial grant of leave will be for 3 years and 4 months. Furthermore, leave to enter/remain under this category will not lead to settlement in the UK.

The Short Term sub-category will allow existing employees to transfer to the UK for a maximum period of 12 months. The position the migrant will come to fill in must be at graduate level or above with a minimum salary of £24,000 per annum.  Following completion of a period of leave under the Short Term Staff subcategory migrants will not be able to apply for leave under any ICT sub-category (apart from the Long Term Staff category) for a period of 12 calendar months from the date their previous leave expired.

English Language Requirement

From 6 April 2011 the English language requirement will rise from basic to intermediate level (at level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). However, the English language requirement for Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer will remain unaltered.



Migra & Co is a private immigration company, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), reference number F200900038. This website is not a government website and as such, we are not linked or affiliated with the UK Visas and Immigration. We offer expert legal advice and flexible tailored solutions to both private and corporate clients to ensure that their immigration needs are met. If you wish to download or prepare a UK visa application form, you can do so free of charge by visiting the Official UKVI website.