What are the rules on making a Tier 2 visa extension? If you are employed in the UK under the Tier 2 (General) visa, your permission to remain and work in the UK will be time-limited. If you intend to remain in the UK, you will need to apply for further leave to remain before your current visa expires.
Extending your Tier 2 visa from 2021
The visa extension process for skilled sponsored workers was changed in December 2020, when the Tier 2 (General) visa category was closed to new applications, and replaced with the Skilled Worker visa.
Under the new rules, Tier 2 visa holders can apply to extend their period of leave, but the extension will be processed under the new Skilled Worker category.
The fact that you have previously been granted a Tier 2 visa does not in itself guarantee an extension will be successful. You will need to evidence your eligibility in your extension application. Your application will be subject to the eligibility criteria of the Skilled Worker visa category, for example, that you are employed in a qualifying role for a sponsoring employer at the required salary level.
Tier 2 visa extension requirements
You will generally be eligible to extend a skilled worker visa if you are working in the same role with the same SOC code as when your current visa was approved, and you continue to be employed by the sponsor who issued your current Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
In addition, you will also need to meet the minimum salary requirement:
Certificates of Sponsorship issued before 24 November 2016
The minimum salary requirement for extension applications made before 24 May 2023 is £20,800 per year or above, or the ‘going rate’ for your job if higher.
Certificates of Sponsorship on or after 24 November 2016
Extension applications before 1 December 2026 will also be subject to a minimum salary threshold, but you may also be able to include certain salary allowances valid for the duration of your leave, such as London weighting.
You will also need to include details of any criminal convictions or other penalties, both spent and unspent, in the UK or anywhere in the world. This includes some driving offences. Convictions may impact on your application. Take advice on your circumstances to ensure you are declaring as required.
How to apply for a Tier 2 visa extension
Extension applications are made online. They can only be made from within the UK.
The application will not be submitted until the extension application fee and the NHS Immigration Health surcharge have been paid.
Once the online form has been completed and the relevant fees paid, the applicant will then be invited to arrange an appointment at a UKVCAS centre to submit their biometric information to confirm their identity. A fee will also apply to submit the biometric information (currently £19.20).
For the extension application, the sponsor assigns a new CoS to the visa holder. This is needed for the Home Office application. The extension application must be made within 3 months of the CoS being issued or before the existing visa expires, whichever is sooner.
While the extension application is being processed, the applicant should not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, or the application will be considered withdrawn.
Extension supporting documents
The specific supporting documents to prove your identity and eligibility will depend on the circumstances. You would usually be advised what you need to provide when making your application, but generally this can include:
- Current, valid passport or travel document, with blank pages for visa to be issued
- Current visa or leave to remain/Biometric Residence
- National Insurance number
- Expired passports as proof of immigration history
- Proof of knowledge of the English language
- Certificate of Sponsorship (reference number)
- Proof of personal savings where your sponsor is not supporting the applicant
Applicants may also use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their identity document.
How much does it cost to extend a Tier 2 visa?
You will need to pay the Tier 2 visa extension fee at the time of your application. How much this costs will depend on your circumstances.
When to apply for your visa extension
You are permitted to submit your extension application up to 60 days before your current visa is due to expire.
In any case, you need to secure further leave to remain before your current leave expires. You otherwise risk overstaying, which can detrimentally impact future immigration applications.
Tier 2 visa extension processing time
The visa extension processing time is generally around eight weeks, but this will depend on Home Office caseload and the quality of the submission. If the Home Office has any queries or requests further information, this will delay processing.
Priority processing may also be available to fast-track a decision for a fee, however, applicants are advised to check the status of premium services as COVID has impacted the availability of priority processing.
Changing role or sponsor
If you are changing job or employer, you will need to apply to update (rather than extend) your visa. This applies where you are changing job and changing employer, or your job changes SOC code, or you are changing role for a job that is not on the Shortage Occupation List.
If you are changing roles but staying employed by the same sponsor, you may also need to make a change of employment application where:
- Your core duties changes to the extent that a different Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code will apply; or
- Under TUPE (or similar) protection you change jobs and the new job is in the same SOC code, but your new salary is less than the appropriate rate for the new job as shown in the relevant code of practice; or
- There is a change to your core duties which means you change jobs from a job which is currently on the shortage occupation list to a job which is not on the shortage occupation list; or
- Your pay reduces from the level indicated on your current Certificate of Sponsorship, other than changes due to company-wide reductions defined as acceptable in the Sponsor Guidance, or reductions due to maternity, paternity, adoption leave, and/or a period of sick leave that lasted for one month or longer; or
- Changes to your core duties which means your job changes within the same SOC code provided your pay remains above the acceptable rate for the new job.
If you are changing employer, your new employer will need to issue you a new Certificate of Sponsorship before you can apply for a new visa.
Tier 2 to Indefinite Leave to Remain (UK Settlement)
The maximum period of stay for Tier 2 (General) visas issued on or after 6 April 2011 is the lesser of 5 years and 14 days, or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 1 month. Those who first obtained a Tier 2 visa before 6 April 2011, will be able to continue to extend their Tier 2 visa with no limit to the number of extensions provided there is continued eligibility.
You may become eligible to apply to settle in the UK on completion of your tier 2 visa extension period. UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) becomes available to Tier 2 (General) visa holders after five years spent lawfully in the UK on that visa. ILR is not automatic. You have to make an application to the Home Office to be granted status. You will need to assess eligibility and apply under the separate ILR process to remain in the UK after Tier 2 expiry.
With a skilled worker extension application, it is not just the worker that will be put under Home Office scrutiny. Your employer will also need to continue to meet its duties as a licensed sponsor. Extension applications from sponsored workers are known to trigger Home Office inspections and investigations into the employer’s immigration compliance. Breaches of employer sponsor licence duties can result in enforcement action, impacting the employer’s permission to hire non-UK residents, and potentially curtailing your visa. We can advise on all aspects of sponsor licence compliance and sponsored worker management.
DavidsonMorris are specialists in UK immigration, working closely with employers and employees to meet their visa needs. If you are approaching your Tier 2 (General) visa expiry and want to secure your lawful status, speak to our experts for help and guidance with the Home Office application process.
Tier 2 visa extension FAQs
Can Tier 2 visa be extended?
Tier 2 (General) visa holders can apply to extend their period of leave under the new Skilled Worker route, provided they are in the same role working for the same employer.
How long can you extend Tier 2 visa?
If you are currently in the UK on a Tier 2 visa, your extension application will be under the Skilled Worker visa, which can be granted for up to 5 years. Skilled Worker visas can be extended as many times as you like, provided you continue to be eligible, or you may become eligible to apply for UK ILR after 5 years as a skilled worker.
What happens if my Tier 2 visa expires?
Extension applications should be made before the visa expires. If your visa has expired, you will need to leave the country within 30 days, or make a Home Office application within 14 days of your previous visa expiring with evidence of ‘good reason’ for having overstayed. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to rely on COVID measures.
How long does UK visa extension take?
You can expect a decision on your UK visa extension within 8 weeks of the application date, unless you have paid for priority processing.
Last updated: 2 January 2021