The Tier 2 General visa category is for individuals who have an offer of a skilled job in the UK from a licensed Tier 2 Sponsor. This category includes applicants coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations. You will need to have an offer of employment before applying for a visa.

What are the main eligibility requirements for a Tier 2 General visa?
In order to qualify for a Tier 2 General visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

You have a job offer in the UK from an employer that holds a Tier 2 Sponsor License;
The job you are sponsored for is at least graduate level or a specified creative profession;
The job is on the Home Office’s list of skilled occupations;
You will be paid a minimum salary of £30,000 (£20,800 for some applicants) or the minimum for the exact job you are doing, whichever is higher;
The job offer is a genuine vacancy and you are appropriately qualified or registered to do the job.
Your Sponsor will need to show that there is no suitable settled worker to fill the role. In most cases, they will need to prove that they have undertaken a genuine ‘Resident Labour Market Test’. This normally means that they have advertised the role for at least 28 days in two places and no suitable settled worker has applied.

A Resident Labour Market Test is not required in cases where the job is on the Shortage Occupation List, or if you will be a high earner (annual salary of £159,600 or more). If you are switching from a Tier 4 General Student visa then your employer will usually be exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test.

You will need to be competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0 in reading, writing, listening and speaking) and have enough additional money to support yourself without relying on public funds.

What else do I need to know about the Tier 2 General visa?
If your application for a Tier 2 General visa is approved then your first visa can be valid for a maximum period 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.

Your partner and any children under the age of 18 may accompany you as your dependents.

You can apply to extend your stay for up to another 5 years, as long as your total stay is not more than 6 years.

You can settle permanently in the UK after being in the Tier 2 General category for five years, and if you have been in the UK in certain other immigration categories you may be able to combine the time spent to count towards settlement.

If you have held a Tier 2 visa in the last 12 months, you may be subject to a ‘cooling off period’. You will not normally be able to apply to re-enter the UK in this category from overseas during this period.

You can switch into the Tier 2 General immigration category if you are already in the UK under Tier 1, 2, or 4 of the point-based system.

If you are currently in the UK as a Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) migrant, you will only be able to switch into the Tier 2 General category if your Tier 2 ICT visa was granted before 6th April 2010 and you are applying to change sponsor, or you have leave under the Tier 2 ICT: Established staff category granted before 6th April 2011 and are applying to change sponsor.

If you are currently in the UK as a Tier 4 General Student, you will need to have either completed and passed your degree level course or be applying no more than 3 months before the expected completion date, in order to be eligible to switch into the Tier 2 General category.

You can include guaranteed allowances to demonstrate that you meet the minimum salary criteria, as long as they would also be paid to a settled worker.

You must not own more than 10% of the shares of the company sponsoring you, unless your gross salary is £159,600 or more.

In most cases you will only be able to work for your Sponsor, though you may be able to do some additional part time work in certain circumstances.

If you will be working in certain health, education or social work professions you may need to provide a criminal record certificate from any country that you have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years.

Obtaining a Tier 2 Sponsor License
Conducting a Resident Labour Market Test
Completing a Certificate of Sponsorship and requesting a restricted CoS
Compliance and record-keeping
Changes of employment and secondary employment
Remedying problems with your Sponsor
Sponsor Licence downgrades, suspensions and revocations
Applications for extension of stay as a Tier 2 General migrant
Applications for settlement as a Tier 2 General migrant
Applications for Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visas
Fresh applications, Administrative reviews and Judicial reviews for Tier 2 General migrants