Tier 2

Sponsoring migrant workers

Those UK employers who hold a sponsor licence may offer Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to those they wish to employ. Sponsored workers are classed under Tier 2 of the Points Based System.

The main criteria:

Applicant meets the required points score in this category

Employee will fill a genuine vacancy that requires a worker with skills at the minimum level

Worker is to be paid at a rate appropriate to the qualifying vacancy

Should the applicant be applying under Tier 2 (General), they need to meet a minimum skill level of English language

The person applying needs to hold adequate funds (maintenance) to support themselves and their family in the UK. The UK employer may certify the maintenance.

There are two main categories under the sponsored worker route:

Tier 2 Intra Company Transfers (ICT)

The Intra Company transfer route is suited to employees of multinational companies who are being transferred by their employer overseas to a skilled post in the UK-based entity of the company.

Migrants coming to the UK on Intra Company transfers must have been working for the sponsoring company for at least the previous 12 months unless they are entering as a Graduate Trainee or as a high earner. Please contact us for further information on Graduate Trainees.
While in the UK, the migrant worker must earn a salary or remunerative package (including specific permitted allowances) either above the set minimum salary or the salary deemed appropriate for that job in the UK (whichever is higher). A migrant does not have to have worked for a minimum of 12 months for the company if classed as a high earner, i.e. earns £73,900 per annum or more.

Please note:


The amount of time an ICT migrant may spend in the UK is limited to 5 years for a salary £120,000 or below and 9 years if the salary is above this amount


A person on an ICT visa who travelled within this category prior to 6th April 2011 can extend indefinitely depending on their employer’s requirements and could qualify for long residency (settlement) after 10 continuous years.


To qualify for long term status, new migrants entering the UK under this category from 6th April 2015 must be earning a guaranteed minimum salary package of £41,500. Migrants who entered the UK prior to this date could qualify under different earnings criteria.

Tier 2 (General)

Those who do not qualify as ICT’s above, or who wish to have the chance to settle in the UK indefinitely could use the Tier 2 (General) route.
Tier 2 (General) is split into two groups: ‘Non Restricted’ and ‘Restricted’.

The Non Restricted route concerns those migrants currently within the UK who can switch their immigration status or those who are being sponsored as a high earner or a PhD level vacancy.
The Restricted route concerns those employees who are applying from outside the UK. The Restricted route involves a quota system where a set number of Certificates of Sponsorship are available each month.

Under Tier 2 (General) it may be necessary to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test prior to issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship to a qualifying worker. This allows settled workers to apply for the vacancy. The Resident Labour Market Test consists of advertising the vacancy to the national labour market for a continuous period of no less than 28 days. Often, two media are needed to advertise the vacancy and the wording and placement of the advertisement is very specific. This does not apply to Tier 4 migrants switching to this category or to those who are entering under a role designated as ‘Shortage Occupation’. Speak to us for more information on this.
For both of these categories, a migrant’s dependant family members can accompany them under the ‘Point Based System’ (PBS) Dependant category.



Strategy makes up an important aspect of issuing Certificates of Sponsorship to migrant workers. There are many instances where sponsored workers are not allowed to switch employer or return to the UK until they have spent a minimum qualifying period (normally 12 months) outside the UK. This is called a Cooling Off period.


A Tier 2 migrant and each of his dependants is liable to pay a Health Surcharge.


For all new ICT and General migrants, a skills charge may apply. This must be paid by the employer and cannot be passed on to the employee.

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