When preparing to make an extension application, there are number of factors requiring careful consideration, including the timescales involved and the Tier 2 Visa extension processing time.
The time will quickly come around for Tier 2 visa holders to start looking at extending their visa to remain in the UK.
Employers of Tier 2 visa workers are often concerned about the timing of Tier 2 visa extensions to avoid any issues that may impact their continued lawful employment of the visa holder.
For Tier 2 visa holders, getting the timing of the application wrong can be devastating, impacting your lawful status, your job and the status of dependants with you in the UK.
How long is the Tier 2 visa extension processing time?
Currently, the average Tier 2 visa extension processing time under the standard service is around eight weeks. However, this is only a general indication and is subject to change due to factors such as application caseload. There is no guarantee that the application for an extension will be processed within this timeframe.
Can the Tier 2 visa extension processing time be expedited?
Where visa holders or sponsors are concerned about waiting the 8 weeks under the standard service, it is possible to expedite application processing using either the priority or super priority services. Both require payment of an additional fee, but do provide assurance of prompt processing and decision-making where there is time pressure of an impending visa deadline.
The priority service is available for an additional £500 and will give a decision within five working days of your UKVCA appointment.
The super priority service costs £800 and will process the application by the end of the working day that follows a weekday UKVCAS appointment, or two working days after if the appointment is on a weekend.
Whichever service you opt for, your application will be at risk of delayed processing if it is incomplete, if documents need to be verified, if you need to attend a visa interview or if there are more complex circumstances such as a criminal conviction.
Taking advice with your application can help ensure you avoid such issues and the resulting delays in decision-making.
When can I apply for my Tier 2 extension?
The fundamental requirement is that your application to extend your Tier 2 (General) visa is made prior to the expiry of your existing period of leave. Specifically, this means within three months of the new Certificate of Sponsorship being assigned or 60 days before any current leave is due to expire, whichever is sooner.
In any case, you need to secure further leave to remain before your current leaves expires. You otherwise risk overstaying, which can have a detrimental impact on future UK immigration applications.
How long can my Tier 2 visa be extended for?
Under a Tier 2 (General) visa, an applicant can initially come to the UK for a maximum of 5 years and 14 days, or the time given on the CoS plus 1 month, whichever is shorter. The Tier 2 visa holder can start their stay up to 14 days before the start date on the CoS.
However, an applicant can apply to extend their Tier 2 (General) visa for up to another 5 years, provided their total stay is not more than six years.
Beyond the six years, Tier 2 visa holders will generally look at applying to settle in the UK under indefinite leave to remain.
What are the criteria to apply for a Tier 2 extension?
Being in the UK on a Tier 2 visa does not in itself guarantee your extension will be granted. You remain subject to the eligibility criteria under the visa category – that is, you are employed in a qualifying role for a sponsoring employer at the required salary level – which you will have to evidence in your extension application.
To qualify for an extension of a Tier 2 (General) visa, you must hold valid permission to enter or stay on a Tier 2 visa, and still be present in the UK. You must also meet the following conditions:
- Have the same job as when you were issued your previous leave to enter or stay in the UK
- Still be working for the employer who assigned your original CoS
- Still earn an appropriate salary for your Tier 2 category, ie; the salary must be at least the same, or higher, than that shown on their CoS for the previous grant of leave.
You must also have been issued a new CoS from your sponsor.
With previous grant of leave under a Tier 2 category, you will not need to prove the maintenance requirement, nor indeed the English language requirement where you have already provided evidence of this.
How do you apply for your Tier 2 visa extension?
To apply for an extension to a Tier 2 (General) visa, you will need to complete an online application form and compile and submit extensive supporting documents to evidence your continued eligibility under the route. You will also need to provide proof of identity including your passport and biometric residence permit.
The application fee will also need to be paid. The rate will depend on the type of application you are making. Typically, this can range from between £464 to £1408, the lower rate being where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for a period of three years or less for a shortage occupation, and the higher rate being where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for a period of more than three years.
Should I seek legal advice about Tier 2 visa extension?
The rules and process for Tier 2 (General) visa extension applications are complex, and it will be critical to work within the Tier 2 visa extension processing time and make your application before your current period of leave expires.
When applying to extend your Tier 2 visa, professional advice can help ensure you provide the right documentation to help avoid processing delays and maximise your chances of gaining approval from the Home Office.
For advice on the Tier 2 visa extension, contact us.