Sponsored Skilled Workers

Immigration Solicitors 

Changes to the Immigration Rules that came into effect on 6 April 2011, have made extensive changes to Tier 2 of the Points Based System. The changes require all Tier 2 (General) Migrants to be employed in "graduate level" jobs. However, applications made up to 5 April 2011 will be considered under the Immigration Rules as they were on that date, but applications made on 6 April 2011 and thereafter will be considered under the new regime. There are four subcategories to Tier 4 PBS.

Applicants seeking entry clearance or leave to remain under Tier 2 must be "Sponsored", i.e. they must hold a "Certificate of Sponsorship" (COS) by a UKBA licensed Sponsor. A COS will count towards a number of qualifying points under Appendix A to the Immigration Rules.

Applicants must score points for competence in the English language (Appendix B), and must show the ability to support themselves for the first month of their stay in the UK (Appendix C). The Sponsor can issue a guarantee to maintain and accommodate the applicant, if the Sponsor is A graded, which will then meet the requirements of Appendix C.

Tier 2 (General)

Tier 2 (General) covers skilled workers coming to do jobs that cannot be filled from the resident labour market, and also for shortage occupations. UKBA publishes codes of practice relevant to defined areas of work - which determine the salary level at which any job must be advertised in order to comply with the necessary resident labour market test. The codes of practice also stipulate the organs of the trade press in which a particular job must be advertised - although since April of 2009 the UKBA has required all jobs to also be advertised in Jobcentre Plus.

Since 23 December 2010 the Secretary of State has introduced an interim cap on applications for entry clearance and for leave to remain, in anticipation of her introduction of a permanent cap in April of 2011.

By the cap only 10,832 COSs will be issued before 5 April 2011. Individual limits have been arranged by the UKBA with licensed Sponsors, based upon the Sponsor's past level of issue of COSs. There is no requirement for a resident labour market test for jobs listed as shortage occupations. The list of such occupations is compiled by an organisation called the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and is published on the UKBA's website.

These requirements are reflected in the points to be awarded for attributes in Appendix A of the Immigration Rules to applicants for entry clearance and leave to remain as Tier 2 (General) Migrants.

Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer)

This tier is for skilled workers moving from a branch of a company located outside the European Economic Area (the EEA) to a UK branch of the same company. There is no resident labour market test to satisfy under this category because they will be coming from a foreign branch of the company in the UK. There is a stipulation that the Applicant must have been working for the overseas branch for no less than six months prior to making the application and their salary must be commensurate with the rate appropriate for that job in the UK.

Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)

This tier is for those who work as religious workers with recognised religions. This subcategory includes preachers and pastoral workers. Those applying as Ministers of Religion must satisfy an appropriate resident labour market test and must have a command of the English language higher than that for applicants under the other sub categories of Tier 2, in order to satisfy the requirements of Appendices A and B of the Rules.

Tier 2 (Sportsperson)

Under this tier people and their coaches who are established at the highest levels internationally in their sport can seek entry to the UK. This subcategory focuses on people whose employment in the UK will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level in this country. The class of applicants is effectively defined by their Sponsors, which generally will have been approved by the sport's Governing Body.

Periods of leave

Applicants will be granted a maximum of 3 years leave to enter or for the duration of the period of engagement plus 14 days - whichever is the shorter. Period of engagement is defined in the Immigration Rules as follows:

"the period beginning with the employment start date as recorded on the Certificate of Sponsorship Checking Service entry which relates to the Certificate of Sponsorship reference number for which the migrant was awarded points under paragraphs 59 to 100 of Appendix A and ending on the employment end date as recorded in the same entry".

Subsequent grants of leave to remain will be for a maximum of 2 years or the period of engagement plus 14 days (whichever is the shorter). Those given leave to remain under transitional arrangements will get the length of the period of engagement or enough time to make them eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain - whichever is the shorter.

After a continuous period of 5 years' leave to enter/remain as a Tier 2 (Migrant) or a permitted combination of Tier 2 leave and other leave he or she becomes eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in this subcategory, and again, after 12 months will be eligible to apply to be naturalised.

Family members of Tier 2 Migrants

As with Tier 1 Migrants a Tier 2 Migrant's family members can accompany the Migrant to the UK. Each family member must satisfy a maintenance requirement under Appendix E of the Immigration Rules.