Tier 2 and Sponsor Licence Application


Tier 2 replaced the previous ‘Work Permit’ scheme. Tier 2 work permits are applied for by employers who need to fill a vacant position with a specific person. It is vital that the employer can show that the business is genuine and that there is a genuine requirement for the intended role. In addition, the proposed employee must be suitably skilled and/or qualified for the vacant position, meeting the basic requirements and passing the Tier 2 points test.

In order for an employer to be able to obtain a work permit, in most cases they must first be able to prove that they had advertised the position nationally and could not fill it with someone from inside the European Economic Area.

Applicants need to be sponsored by a registered employer, who issues a Certificate of Sponsorship (Cos). Applicants must also score points for appropriate salary, English language skills, and maintenance. Tier 2 restricts holders to a specific job. If the applicant changes employers, or even certain jobs with the same employer, they will need to make a new application.


The criteria

To apply for a Tier 2 work permit to the UK, applicants must meet a few basic educational requirements, as well as pass the Tier 2 points test.

In order to satisfy the skills threshold, the employer must ensure that the employee has one of the following:

  • A UK degree-level qualification;
  • A Higher National Diploma (HND) qualification that is relevant to the employment;
  • An HND-level qualification that is not relevant to the employment plus one year’s full-time work experience that is relevant to the employment, and which is at N/SVQ Level 3 or above; OR
  • At least 3 years’ experience using the skills acquired by working in the position for which the permit is sought. Such experience must have been gained at N/SVQ Level 3 or above.


Sponsor license

A sponsor licence allows UK companies to employ foreign nationals legally. The consequence of employing an overseas national without a sponsorship licence could mean a £10,000 fine for each illegal employee and/or a prison sentence for business owners.

  • Employers must be registered as a sponsor with the UKBA in order to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS)
  • Registered employers can issue a CoS, which is then required for the migrant to make their immigration application
  • The immigration cap brought in by the UK government in April 2011 limits the number of Certificates of Sponsorship within Tier 2 (General). There are now two types of Certificates: Unrestricted and Restricted.
  • Because this cap only applies to Tier 2 (General) applications, Intra Company Transfers (ICT), Minister of Religion and Sportsperson routes are not affected
  • The cap does not apply to Unrestricted Certificates, and in practice there is no limit to these Certificates, since employers have an annual allocation which can be easily increased
  • Unrestricted Certificates can be issued to the following migrants: those resident within the UK who are eligible to switch into/ remain within Tier 2, and those with salaries of over £150 000
  • Restricted Certificates have an annual limit imposed. That limit is currently 20 700.
  • Applications for Restricted Certificates are considered by a monthly panel. Applications must be submitted by the 5th of the month, in order to be considered on the 11th of the month.
  • Restricted Certificates are needed for all Tier 2 (General) migrants applying from outside the UK, with the exception of those with salaries of over £150 000. As previously mentioned, Intra Company Transfer (ICT), Minister of Religion, and Sportsperson fall outside Tier 2 (General), so are not affected by the restriction.
  • Employers must ensure that an appropriate salary for the post is paid, so as to match the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. We continue to see many refusals caused by employers not meeting this requirement, and it is therefore vital that this information is checked carefully before submitting a Tier 2 application.
  • The Resident Labour Market Test must usually be fulfilled. There are six exceptions: where the post attracts a salary of over £150 000, is on the shortage occupation list, is an ICT, is an extension of the same employment with the same employer, is switching from Tier 1 (PSW), Tier 4 and certain other similar categories, and – finally – where post-graduate doctors or dentists in Speciality Training are applying for further leave under Tier 2 (General) to complete/ return to their training.
  • This is one of the most complex areas of Immigration Law. For this reason, a competent and pro-active Representative is a necessity for many employers who employ migrants, or who intend to do so.

For further advice or assistance with this process, please contact us on 0207 392 7672 or e-mail us at info@novellslegals.com.