This section focuses on ILR requirements specific to Tier 2 (General) visa holders. More information and a link to the online application form for Tier 2 (General) visa holders is found on the Home Office website.
In April 2011 the Home Office introduced a 6 year limit on time spent under Tier 2 (General). At the end of 6 years Tier 2 visa holders must apply for ILR, a different visa, or leave the UK. If a Tier 2 visa holder is not eligible, or does not wish to apply, for ILR, the Staff Immigration Team (SIT) can help explore if they would be able to apply for a different visa instead.
Under the current rules those who were first issued a Tier 2 visa before April 2011 can continue to extend under Tier 2 without restrictions, as long as they continue to meet the Tier 2 requirements.
The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code which a Tier 2 visa holder’s role falls under determines whether they have to meet the ILR minimum earnings threshold.
Tier 2 visa holders sponsored under the 'PhD level' codes, including those used by the University for Researcher (SOC code 2119) and Lecturer/ Professor (SOC code 2311) roles, are exempt from the ILR Minimum earnings threshold.
Tier 2 visa holders in roles which appear in the Shortage Occuptation List are also exempt from the ILR Minimum earnings threshold.
Those in other roles sponsored under codes which are outside the group of 'PhD level' codes must meet the threshold at the time they are submitting their ILR application. The threshold increases each April, as shown below.
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To be eligible for ILR applicants must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 month period of the five year qualifying period. All absences from the UK are counted, whether for work, family or holidays.
Under a new rule, which took effect from the start of October 2019, periods of research outside the UK is no longer counted against the limit on absences. The new rule only applies to Tier 2 visa holders who are sponsored under the Researcher and Lecturer SOC codes. Tier 2 visa holders who are preparing to apply for ILR and believe they are close to, or over, the limit on absences should contact SIT to discuss whether they can rely on this rule.
A stricter limit on absences from the UK applies under the 10 year ‘Long residence’ ILR route.
Only full days outside the UK are counted against the 180 day limit. For example, travel on Monday to a conference held outside the UK and returning to the UK on Wednesday would only be counted as one day’s absence from the UK.
The Home Office changed the way absences are counted in January 2018 but this change is not retrospective.
More detail on how Home Office caseworkers count absences when assessing ‘continuous residence’ in ILR applications is found in Home Office guidance.
If an applicant thinks they are near or over the 180 day limit, they should contact SIT to discuss further.
The Employer’s letter Tier 2 visa holders must submit with their ILR application confirms the history of absences from the UK they list in their application. Other documents showing residence are not, therefore, required. Those who can rely on the rule under which periods of research are not counted against the limit on absences will need to have their employers letter amended to highlight this.
Tier 2 visa holders must submit an employer's letter with their ILR application. The letter should be provided by their employing department/ college/ faculty based on a template SIT provide. The letter confirms:
Those who can rely on the rule under which periods of research are not counted against the limit on absences, mentioned in the continuous residence section above, will need to have their employers letter amended to highlight this.
Tier 2 visa holders must list their SOC code, which can be found on their Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), in both their online ILR application and their employer’s letter. SIT can confirm Tier 2 visa holder’s SOC code if they are unsure.
If the applicant has worked for more than one department/ faculty/ college within the collegiate University, or with another employer/ sponsor, they will also need to submit letters from their previous employers. These letters only need to confirm their dates of employment and absences from the UK during those periods.
Medical Sciences / Humanities / GLAM / UAS / Continuing Education / Colleges
Angelina Pelova Tel: 01865 289904 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
James Galloway Tel: 01865 289927 Email: email@example.com
MPLS / Social Sciences
Nina Song Tel: 01865 289926 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Solveig Alsaker Tel: 01865 289912 Email: email@example.com