The tier 2 (general) skilled worker category is employer-led and allows organisations to recruit individuals from outside the EEA to fill vacancies that cannot be filled by a British or EEA worker. This tier replaces the work permit application process. You must be able to score a minimum of 70 points against the criteria for this tier:
- 50 points for attributes (sponsorship/job offer, qualifications, prospective earnings)
- 10 points for maintenance (available funds to support themselves and their dependants in the UK)
- 10 points for evidence of English language competence
Under this tier, you must have both a sponsor and a valid certificate of sponsorship before applying to the UKBA for leave to enter, or remain in, the UK. The certificate of sponsorship is not an actual document but a unique reference number which will be issued to you by your sponsor and will form part of the documentary evidence required when making your application.
A certificate of sponsorship can be issued for a maximum of three years. Your employer can apply for a two-year extension at the end of this period, after which you may qualify for settlement. If you change employment whilst in the UK, you will need a new certificate of sponsorship from your employer.