The costs and process of moving to the UK

Prepare to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa

In this chapter I’ll detail:

Note that the information here is:

  • Specific to our unique circumstances
  • Reflective of the rules, policies, and requirements, as of the time of our original application for a Tier 2 (General) visa back in 2015; if we are aware of any changes since, it will be called out

If you are planning to apply for, or currently are in the process of applying for a Tier 2 (General) visa then you must refer to the official guidance released by the UK Government at the page for Tier (2) General visas. If you are considering other immigration routes (such as coming to visit as a tourist, or to study, etc) then you can find the official guidance of the UK Government at this visas and immigrations page for all the routes.

What is the Tier 2 (General) visa

The Tier 2 (General) visa is a points-based long-term work visa for migrants from outside the European Economic Area1 (prior to Brexit) who have been offered a job in the UK by a UK sponsor. People under the Tier 2 (General) route can eventually apply to settle to live indefinitely in the UK, unlike other visa types such the Tier 2 (Inter-Company Transfer) visa.

Visas are applied from and granted by UK Visas and Immigration. UKVI is part of the Home Office, a department of the UK government.

As of the time of writing, the UK have left the European Union and plans are under way to unify the visa routes and include people in the EEA within the points-based immigration system. This means that the free movement of people from the EEA will end and everyone will now need to apply and pay for visas (unless the EU and the UK will come up with an agreement allowing a modified form of freedom of movement), like the citizens of other non-EEA countries prior to Brexit.

The “tier” signifies broad classifications of points-based UK visas, of which there are four kinds as of the time of writing:

  • Tier 1 visas are for investors, business development, and talent
  • Tier 2 visas are for those seeking to work in the UK long-term
  • Tier 4 visas are for those seeking to study in the UK
  • Tier 5 visas are for those seeking to work in the UK short-term

Notice that “Tier 3” visas are not mentioned – originally this was intended to be a visa for unskilled migrants, but was never implemented and was discontinued as the government felt that there was no need for unskilled immigration from outside the European Economic Area.

The UK also has a non-points-based system for other kinds of visas; the full list and guidance can be found at the UK Government’s Visas and Immigration page.

It is very important that you know what route you are applying under, and you fully understand the requirements of that route. Not doing so could lead to a rejection of your application, with no refund of any fees paid.

Starting the application process

A few days after I’ve formally accepted the job offer in February 2015, I was informed by the company that they will now be kicking-off the visa process for me and my partner.

As part of the support that came with the job offer, the company sponsoring us to come to the UK have procured the services of a firm to help us with the legal process of immigration. In our case, this service was provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), who had a team of legal professionals knowledgeable in both the Philippine and the UK systems and laws. They reached out to us and guided us through the entire process of getting the right documents to fulfil requirements as well as filling the right forms correctly. They were also available for any questions that we may have had regarding our circumstances.

Given the number of requirements and the amount of information needed we were told very clearly that the application process is not something that we should expect to complete in one day. We then started the online application process, ensuring that we save our progress regularly, taking note of items that we were required to submit as indicated in the form. We were instructed to not submit the application until they’ve had a chance to review it.

Applications are made directly on the UK Government’s website online. Appointment bookings are made on the website of the company the UKVI has partnered with for your country; e.g. for the Philippines it was VFS Global. You should book an appointment after your visa application is paid for and submitted.

Be sure to be aware of the timelines and lead times when requesting for pertinent documents from your current and previous employers, your university, certification bodies, and local government registries. Required and supporting documents should be available for review by you and/or your prospective employer’s appointed firm well before the target application date.

A word of warning

Note that in the UK, only OISC-registered immigration advisers can legally give immigration advice. While I hope that I can give you an idea of what the process entails given the recounting here of my experiences, be mindful that this is specific to my case and may not necessarily apply to you or to anyone else.

Immigration law is exceedingly complex. As I am not an immigration adviser and that the strategy we’ve taken in our applications is bespoke to my and my partner’s route and unique state of affairs, the information here is not and should not be constituted as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding your particular circumstances, it is best that you reach out to a qualified immigration adviser who can assess your situation and provide open and honest guidance tailored to your case.

If you decide to do this and seek guidance and/or support from a solicitor (especially if you know that your scenario is a complex one), you must protect yourself from fraud2 by ensuring that you only go to an OISC-registered immigration adviser.

If there are any problems with this page, be it in terms of factual inaccuracies, mistakes in spelling or grammar, technical website issues — anything at all — I would truly appreciate it if you let me know here so that I can get it corrected.

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