UK Rules on Recruiting Foreign Workers

Employers in the UK intending to recruit foreign workers (in the case of the Philippines, Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs) must comply with the current, more restrictive rules on getting foreign workers abroad under the Tier 2 General Worker category.

Tier 2 has 4 categories (including the General Worker category)

1   General – if you have an offer of a skilled job that cannot be filled by a settled worker. This category includes applicants coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations.

2.   Intra-Company Transfer – if you are an existing employee of a multinational employer who needs to be transferred to their UK branch for training purposes or to fill a specific vacancy that cannot be filled by a settled or EEA worker either on a long term basis or for frequent short visits. You cannot use this route if you are an employee of an overseas employer that is not linked by common ownership or control to the UK branch. There are 3 sub-categories of Intra-Company Transfer:

 a)   Long Term Staff – if you have been working for your organisation for at least 12 months directly prior to your transfer and are being transferred to a skilled job in the UK to fill a post which cannot be filled by a settled worker. This is for a period of more than 12 calendar months, up to a maximum stay of 5 years. There are more flexible rules for high earners.

b)  Short Term Staff – if you have been working for your organisation for at least 12 months directly prior to your transfer and are being transferred for a maximum period of 12 months to a skilled job in the UK to fill a post which cannot be filled by a settled worker. This route closed on 6 April 2017. You can only apply if your Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned on or before 5 April 2017.

c)  Graduate Trainee – if you are a recent graduate recruit being transferred to a UK branch of your organisation for the purpose of training. (This route must not be used to fill long-term posts). You must be coming to the UK as part of a structured graduate training programme with clearly defined progression towards a managerial or specialist role within your organisation for a maximum period of 12 months.

3.  Sportsperson – if you are an elite sportsperson or coach whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of your sport at the highest level in the UK.

4.  Minister of Religion – if you are a Minister of Religion undertaking preaching and pastoral work, Missionary, or Member of a Religious Order, and in each case are taking up employment or a post/role within your faith community in the UK.

Note: You cannot apply under Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) if you are applying for permission to work as a sportsperson or a Minister of Religion.

 Tier 2 (General) annual limit

 There is an annual limit on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship available under Tier 2 (General). This limit applies to Certificate of Sponsorship for those nationals seeking entry clearance to the UK under the Tier 2 (General) category and those who are applying to switch into the Tier 2 (General) category from within the UK as a dependant of a Tier 4 (General) student. These are considered as “restricted” Certificates of Sponsorship.

Anyone seeking admission to fill a vacancy with a salary of £159,600 or above (or £155,300 where the certificate of sponsorship was assigned before 6 April 2017), those connected with the inward investment provisions below, and all in- country applications (with the exception of Tier 4 dependant switchers) are not affected by the limit. Certificates of Sponsorship for these applications are known as “unrestricted” and sponsors can assign these without first applying for permission.

Your job will satisfy the inward investment provisions if:

Tier 2 -  Eligibility for Applicants

This means that employers cannot offer a job to a non-settled worker if it means that a suitable settled worker will be turned down for the job or made redundant.

The sponsor must meet the requirements for the category you are applying under and accept certain responsibilities to help with immigration control. You must not own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares if the sponsor is a limited company, unless you are applying under the Intra-Company Transfer category or your Certificate of Sponsorship shows you will earn £159,600 or higher.

You must score a minimum of:



Assigned Certificate of Sponsorship having met the requirements of:

· A resident labour market test exemption; or

· A resident labour market test by the sponsor; or

· An extension - continuing to work in the same occupation for the same sponsor

  • Job being offered in on the shortage occupation list

Most recent list of shortage occupations list, below -


Appropriate salary, minimum £30,000 starting April 2017


Maintenance funds (at least £945.00)


English language skills (Except for intra-company applicants)


Certificate of Sponsorship

If you have a Certificate of Sponsorship from your sponsor you will not be refused due to the limit being reached. You must still apply for entry clearance or leave to remain and meet the eligibility criteria.

If a sponsor is found to be issuing unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship to Tier 2 applicants within the restricted category, their Tier 2 sponsor licence will be withdrawn.

Duration of Sponsorship / Work

You may be granted leave for whichever is the shorter of:

  1. a period equal to the length of the engagement shown on your Certificate of Sponsorship plus 1 month, or
  2.  ii. up to 5 years plus 1 month based on the start date shown on your Certificate of Sponsorship.

Length of time in the United Kingdom needed to qualify – settlement

You can apply for settlement under Tier 2 once you have reached 5 years continuous leave in the United Kingdom.

Your most recent grant of leave must have been under Tier 2. The continuous 5 years can include leave you previously held as a:

Member of the Operational Ground Staff of an Overseas-owned Airline;

When to Apply for settlement -  up to 28 days before you will reach the qualifying period (if you apply earlier than that, your application may be refused).

Otherwise your qualifying period will be the 5 years immediately before the date you apply for settlement. If your initial application was approved more than 5 years ago, we will only consider the most recent 5 years.

Effect of Absences from UK - You cannot have had more than 180 days’ absence from the United Kingdom during each 12 months of the 5 year period.

Escalating amount of salary as Condition for Settlement

You must be earning either at least the appropriate rate for the job or a gross annual salary of at least the minimum earnings threshold, whichever is the higher. The escalating minimum earnings thresholds are:

Get the latest visa & migration news from IVC - FREE!

Become your own migration expert and join successful immigrants overseas!

About the Author

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

IVC and IVC staff are proud members or affiliates of

ICCRC logoIBP logoICEF logoPIER logo
MARA logoCANCHAM logoANZCHAM logoBritish Council logo