To apply for Tier 2 (General) you need a job offer from an employer that has, or is willing to apply for, a Tier 2 sponsor licence. Your job must be graduate level (on the list of NQF Level 6 or PhD level jobs published in the Codes of Practice for Tier 2 sponsors).
Once you have your job offer, to apply for Tier 2 you will need to meet the criteria for 70 points.
30 Points – Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) This is an electronic database record issued by UKVI to your employer. Your employer will process the CoS and give you a unique CoS reference number.
20 Points – Minimum salary Your CoS must confirm that you will be paid an annual gross salary of at least £20,800 (if you meet the 'new entrant' salary conditions and are applying in the UK) or the salary that is published in the Codes of Practice for the job offer you hold, whichever is the higher amount. Your employer will confirm your salary on your electronic CoS record. Many jobs now have a lower 'new entrant' minimum salary so you may now be more likely to meet the salary requirement (see more information below).
10 Points – Maintenance If you are a single graduate you will need to show you have maintained £945 every day for a 90 day period ending no more than 31 days before you apply. Alternatively if your employer is an A-rated sponsor they may certify on your CoS that they will maintain and accommodate you up to the end of your first month of employment if required.
10 Points – English language You can claim 10 points for having a degree taught in English (must already have been awarded) or if you have a Tier 4 (General) student visa and your CAS was assigned on or after 21 April 2011.
Switching from Tier 4
Good news! There are special arrangements for students to make it simpler to qualify for the first 30 points. To claim 30 points for your CoS normally your employer has to have completed the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). This test relates to how the job has been advertised and means that the employer has to prove that the job cannot be filled by any other worker already settled in the UK or EU. However if you meet the following requirements your employer will not need to do the RLMT:
- You have current Tier 4/old-style Student leave for Aston University that has not expired AND
- You have completed all academic work for your course or have completed a minimum of 12 months study in the UK towards a UK PhD during your current period of leave or a period of continuous leave which includes your last grant of leave AND
- Your period of study was undertaken whilst you had a visa that allowed you to study (e.g. Tier 4) AND
- You studied for the award at a UK recognised or listed body (Aston is) AND
- You are applying inside the UK
You are also exempt from the RLMT if you are applying inside the UK with a Tier 1 PSW visa OR your job is on the Shortage Occupation List OR you hold a job offer with an annual salary of at least £159,600.
If you meet the above requirements this also means that you can switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2 within the UK, your employer will be able to issue you with an unrestricted CoS (not subject to monthly limits), and you will be eligible for the lower 'new entrant' salary rate if your CoS is for up to three years.
In order to benefit from the above arrangement you must have completed all of the assessments for your course. You will also need to be awarded a full degree or Masters once you get your final results. If you will be awarded a certificate or diploma you are strongly advised to speak to an International Student Adviser in The Hub about the consequences of this.
If you do not meet the above requirement you cannot apply within the UK. If you apply outside the UK your employer must do the Resident Labour Market Test, they must apply for a restricted CoS and you may not be eligible for the new entrant salary rate so you may need to be paid more.
For further information, visit the UK Visas & Immigration website to download the policy guidance. Please note, however, that the guidance is confusing and some topics are mentioned more than once, with different wording. The information above is a summary of the guidance relevant to Tier 2 General for most students applying in the UK. You are strongly advised to book an appointment with an International Student Adviser for help navigating the Tier 2 rules, unless your sponsor’s legal department is confidently handling your application.