When to apply
A Tier 2 applicant must submit their application no more than 3 months before the start date in their Certificate of Sponsorship.
Once it has been issued, a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship is valid for 3 months, and an applicant must submit their application before the date of expiry on their Certificate of Sponsorship. If an applicant does not submit their application before that date, the Certificate of Sponsorship will no longer be valid and cannot be used.
Dependants can apply at the same time as the main applicant, though each dependant will need to submit a separate application. Dependants cannot apply before the main applicant: they must either submit their application at the same time as the main applicant, or after the main applicant has submitted their application, or after the main applicant’s visa has been granted.
How to apply
Out-of-country Tier 2 visa applications are submitted online on the UK Government website. This is the case for residents of all countries except North Korea. Applicants should ensure that they check the Tier 2 visa requirements before applying, as well as the Home Office guidance for submitting a UK visa application in their country of residence.
Step 1: apply online
The applicant will need to complete an online application form. Guidance and a link to the online application can be found on the Home Office Tier 2 'Apply' page.
Any dependants must apply separately, and submit an individual application. Guidance and a link to the online application can be found on the Home Office Tier 2 'Family members' page.
The online application forms should be intuitive, and only ask for information relevant to the application being made. The Staff Immigration Team is happy to provide guidance on the completion of the application, and encourages applicants to email a downloaded PDF of the drafted application to be checked before submission. An application cannot be amended once the ‘Declaration’ section has been completed, so a draft PDF should be downloaded once the applicant reaches the ‘Document’ section.
Once they have carefully checked the details and submitted their application, the applicant will need to pay the combined visa application and biometric enrolment fee.
If their Certificate of Sponsorship is for more than 6 months, the applicant and their dependants will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This is a one-off payment that allows access to the National Health Service for the duration of the visa.
When the visa application, biometric enrolment, and immigration health surcharge fees have been paid, two PDF documents are generated: the completed application form and a supporting evidence checklist.
These two PDFs should be sent to the Staff Immigration Team for future reference, and to help the team provide assistance if any issue with the application arises after submission.
Step 2: book a biometrics appointment
Once they have submitted their application, the applicant should be automatically directed to book a biometrics appointment at a Visa Application Centre in their country of residence. At this appointment, the applicant will enrol their biometrics (photographs and fingerprints), and submit their documents.
The exact process may differ depending on country, so applicants are encouraged to check the Home Office guidance on how to apply for a UK visa in their country of residence.
Costs and how long it takes
Applicants and each of their dependents will incur a visa application fee, biometric enrolment fee, immigration health surcharge fee, and any additional fees for priority services.
Visa application fees will vary depending on the length of the Certificate of Sponsorship, and whether the job is on the Shortage Occupation List. Turkish and Macedonian nationals pay a reduced application fee.
The Priority service is paid in addition to the visa application fee, and Priority service fees may vary according to country.
Applicants should note that many application fees, including the visa application fee and immigration health surcharge, are paid in US dollars, and they will be liable for any currency exchange fees.
See our guidance on the reimbursement of visa costs and the visa loan scheme webpages.
How long it takes
A Standard Tier 2 visa application should be decided within 3 weeks of the application being submitted online. It may take longer to receive a decision if the applicant has had a prior visa refusal, or if the Home Office needs to request more information.
A Priority service visa application should be decided within 5 working days of the biometrics appointment.
Please note that the Home Office generally does not recommend that applicants with previous visa refusals use the Priority service.
What happens next
Once their Tier 2 application has been granted, the applicant should receive an Entry Clearance vignette (visa sticker) in their passport as well as a decision letter.
The visa sticker will be valid for around 30 days, and will allow the applicant to enter the UK within that period.
The decision letter will confirm the full dates for which the Tier 2 visa has been granted, as well as the address of the Post Office from which their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) can be collected, and the date from which their BRP should be available for collection. This will be based on the applicant’s work location and intended travel date listed in their visa application.
Applicants will need to present their passport, visa sticker, and decision letter when collecting their BRP. An applicant must collect their BRP within 10 days, and could face a financial penalty and/or have their visa curtailed if they do not.
Further guidance on BRPs for overseas applicants can been found on the Home Office website.
Important points to note
Please note that the Staff Immigration Team cannot guarantee the successful outcome of any Tier 2 visa application since this decision is made by the Home Office and not by the University.
It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that they provide the correct supporting documents when submitting their visa application. Should the applicant submit their visa application after their Certificate of Sponsorship has expired, or fail to supply the correct supporting documents, their application will be refused, and their CoS can no longer be used.
If this is the case, the University will need to request another Certificate of Sponsorship from the Home Office’s next available monthly limit. Should the Home Office approve the request, the Staff Immigration Team will issue a new Certificate of Sponsorship to the applicant, and they will then need to submit a fresh visa application.
Delayed start date
Applicants should also note that if their start date is delayed by more than 4 weeks, their sponsorship must be withdrawn. The start date listed on a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship can only be amended before the visa application is submitted by the individual. After this point, the 4 week limit on any delayed start would apply. Any delayed start dates should be communicated to the Staff Immigration Team.
Travelling to the UK as a Visitor
Applicants should also note that, once they have submitted their Tier 2 visa application, or after their Tier 2 visa has been granted, they must not enter the UK as a Visitor (e.g. as a tourist). If they do, their Tier 2 visa will no longer be valid, and they will not be able to start their employment. Any travel plans should be communicated to the Staff Immigration Team.
Applicants with children
Applicants should note that the Home Office has strict requirements for dependant children applicants (i.e. those under the age of 18), guidance for which can be found here.