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Tier 2 & 5 Visa Applications

Sponsoring an employee under Tier 2 (General)

The Tier 2 (General) category enables UK employers with an appropriate sponsor licence with the Home Office to recruit or continue to employ skilled non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. It is one of the most popular routes of entry and stay.

This route is also open to multinational employers to sponsor existing non-EEA national employees of an overseas-linked entity under Tier 2 (General) even if they would meet the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) requirements, if it is anticipated that the employee will be required for more than the maximum periods of leave obtainable in the UK under Tier 2 (ICT) route. These are now five years for persons earning a gross annual salary of less than £120,000 and nine years for persons earning that figure or more. While the latter exceeds the maximum period of six years now generally permitted in Tier 2 (General), it is still open to a migrant in the Tier 2 (General) category to apply for indefinite leave to remain (also referred to as ILR) after five years if they meet the relevant criteria.

We can assist in Tier 2 (General) applications. Please contact us for more information on

Sponsoring an employee under Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)

The Tier 2 (ICT) route currently has two sub-categories:

•Long Term Staff, and

•Graduate Trainee

Both routes have different eligibility criteria.

If the relevant criteria are met, there is no requirement for a sponsor to undertake a strict advertising process known as the Resident Labour Market Test or for the applicant to meet the English-language requirement.

The Tier 2 (ICT) category contains certain more generous provisions for persons earning £120,000 or more (also known as high earners). New applicants earning a gross annual salary at or above that figure will be exempt from the cooling-off period for both entry clearance and leave to remain applications. Tier 2 (ICT) migrants in the Long Term Staff sub-category can also extend their stay for up to nine years if they are earning at least this amount.

It is important to consider that this route does not lead to a grant of indefinite leave to remain. If a person’s employment in the UK is likely to exceed five years, an application under Tier 2 (General) should be considered because it provides an applicant with the option to apply for settlement after five years, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.

We can assist in Tier 2 (ICT) applications. Please contact us for more information on

Applying under Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme)

The Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) is a short-term category that enables non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals under the age of 31 from certain specified countries to live and work in the UK for two years. The UK has reciprocal arrangements with the participating countries listed below.

The 2008 Statement of Intent provided that individual countries would need to apply to join the scheme and that entry and annual visa allocation levels would be based on:

• the country’s arrangements for return of its nationals

• level of immigration risk their nationals are seen to pose, and

• reciprocal mobility arrangements for UK citizens

This is not a category which leads to settlement and dependants are not permitted to accompany the main applicant without their own independent status.

The route may be considered by UK employers for eligible non-EEA national potential employees where no longer-term categories of stay are available, provided they are aware that time spent in the category will not lead to settlement after five years and any subsequent application in a different category will have to be made from overseas.

We can assist in all Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) applications. Please contact us for more information on

Applying under Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)

The Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) route is a sub-category of Tier 5 (Temporary Worker), which allows non-EEA nationals to engage in certain supernumerary work experience, training and research activities in the UK on a temporary basis under a scheme that has been approved by the Home Office.

Employers who are not licenced sponsors under the category can benefit from many of the schemes, eg to take on interns, as the sponsor must be an 'overarching body' organisation which administers the scheme.

Each scheme will have its own eligibility criteria. Details of how to establish a scheme are set out in the Tiers 2 & 5 Sponsor Guidance. A new scheme will be required to obtain the endorsement of a relevant government department or executive agency. Once this is received, and final approval for the scheme given by the Home Office, the overarching body can apply for a Tier 5 (GAE) sponsor licence, and on grant of the licence, will be subject to the general and tier-specific compliance duties.

We can assist in all Tier 5 (GAE) applications. Please contact us for more information on

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