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You can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa if:

  • • you’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK
  • • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland

Getting sponsored

You need to be sponsored (ie have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor) before you can apply to come to the UK to work.

The work you do in the UK must relate to the work of your sponsor organisation.

How long it will take

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you’re due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship.

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.

You can check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in your country.

How long you can stay

You can come to the UK with a Tier 2 (General) visa for a maximum 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.

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

What you can and can’t do

You can:

  • • work for your sponsor in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship
  • • do a second job in the same sector and at the same level as your main job for up to 20 hours per week
  • • do a job which has a shortage of workers in the UK for up to 20 hours per week
  • • do voluntary work
  • • study as long as it doesn’t interfere with the job you’re sponsored for
  • • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • • bring family members with you

You can’t:

  • • own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares (unless you earn more than £155,300 a year)
  • get public funds
  • • start working before you get the visa
  • • apply for a second job until you’ve started working for your sponsor
  • You’ll need to make a new application if you want to do a second job that’s not in the same sector as your main job.