Working in the UK
Tier 2 Minimum Salary (Employer Guidance)
The Tier 2 minimum salary requirement can be one of the more complicated aspects for employers when hiring skilled visa workers.
Varying thresholds apply for different classes of employees and job roles, and the Government frequently changes the rules. Sponsor licence holders must keep pace and ensure continued compliance or risk Home Office enforcement action.
Each sponsor licence holder must check the salary status of the role in question or risk refusal of the application or compliance issues with the Home Office.
One area of particular risk to consider when determining the salary level will be working hours and patterns. The prescribed salary levels are generally based on a 39-hour working week. As such, employers will need to take care when calculating the annual salary for part-time or shift workers and avoid non-compliant practices such as including overtime pay. Contracted weekly hours or hourly rate pay must be pro-rated for the hours you sponsor the migrant to work.
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What is the Tier 2 minimum salary threshold?
Generally, every PBS worker must be paid the appropriate minimum salary amount or more for a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to be issued and for the individual to be eligible for a Tier 2 visa.
The salary level is to be the greater of either the level set by the relevant SOC code for their particular role or the overall minimum salary applicable to their circumstances.
This requires the employer to ensure they have selected the correct and appropriate SOC code to match the recruited role.
The Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code assesses the correct skill and appropriate salary levels for specific job roles. Employers must select the SOC code that most closely matches the job description they are looking to sponsor a migrant worker for.
With the relevant SoC code selected, the employer can assign the relevant CoS. Please meet the appropriate salary level to ensure the sponsor can issue the CoS.
The Lower Salary Threshold for New Entrants
Workers under the ‘new entrant’ category are subject to a lower Tier 2 minimum salary.
To be classed as a new entrant, the worker must:
- be switching from Tier 4 (General) from within the UK, i.e. after finishing their course; or
- be applying for leave under the Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainee sub-category; or
- be under the age of 26 on the date that they make their application.
An application can only be made if it brings their total time in the UK, including the Tier 2 status, to 3 years and one month at maximum. They also cannot apply for ILR.
Workers who do not meet these requirements will come under the experienced worker category.
Tier 2 General Visa Holders
Two levels of threshold apply under the General route. £20,800 applies to new entrants or stipulated exemptions. All other roles must pay at least £30,000 per annum unless a higher rate is specified under the relevant SOC code, in which case the higher rate prevails.
ICT Visa Holders
Intracompany transfers of Tier 2 workers require a higher minimum salary than under the General route.
A minimum salary of £41,500 must be paid unless a higher rate for experienced workers is set under the relevant SOC code.
Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainees must be paid the greater of either £23,000 per annum minimum or the new entrant rate for the relevant SOC code.
Applying for ILR from Tier 2
New guidelines regarding Tier 2 visa holders applying to settle in the UK through Indefinite Leave to Remain have been issued.
Tier 2 workers who have held leave under the Tier 2 (General) category for five years can apply for settlement where they meet the ILR requirements, which include a minimum salary level. Individuals with a role on the Shortage Occupation List or skilled to PhD level are exempt from the ILR minimum salary requirement.
The thresholds have been set to increase as follows:
- ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2020: £36,200
- ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2021: £36,900
- ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2022: £37,900
- ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2023: £38,800
- ILR applications made on or after 6 April 2024: £40,100
New Points-Based Immigration System – Lower Minimum Salary
Under the Government’s plans for UK immigration system reform, all skilled visa worker applicants – including EU and non-EU citizens – will be required to earn the relevant minimum salary threshold or more, among other visa requirements.
Under the rules, the minimum salary requirement applicable from 1 January 2021 is being lowered to £25,600. Skilled visa workers must be paid the higher the specific salary threshold for their occupation, known as the ‘going rate’, and the general salary threshold.
However, if the applicant is to earn less than the required minimum salary threshold, but no less than £20,480, they may still be eligible for the skilled worker visa if they can demonstrate that they have a job offer for a role on the shortage occupation list, or that they have a PhD relevant to the job.
This makes the minimum salary requirement ‘tradeable’ against other requirements, such as the specific job offer and qualifications.
The Tier 2 minimum salary requirement is crucial for employers hiring skilled visa workers in the UK. Compliance with the salary thresholds is necessary to obtain a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) and ensure eligibility for a Tier 2 visa. The minimum salary is determined based on the relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) job code. Failure to meet the required salary level will result in the inability to issue the CoS. Different thresholds apply for new entrants, Tier 2 General visa holders, and Intra-Company Transfers (ICT) visa holders.
Tier 2 Minimum Salary FAQs
The Tier 2 minimum salary threshold is the minimum salary amount that must be paid to a worker for a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to be issued and for them to be eligible for a Tier 2 visa. The salary level is determined based on the relevant SOC code for the job role or the minimum salary applicable to the worker's circumstances.
New entrants are individuals switching from Tier 4 (General) from within the UK, applying for leave under the Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainee sub-category, or under the age of 26 at the time of application. They must also meet the total time limit in the UK and not apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
Tier 2 General visa holders' salary threshold is £20,800 for new entrants or stipulated exemptions. All other roles must pay at least £30,000 per annum unless a higher rate is specified under the relevant SOC code.
The minimum salary for ICT visa holders is £41,500 unless a higher rate is specified under the relevant SOC code for experienced workers.
The minimum salary requirements for settlement (ILR) applications from Tier 2 visa holders vary based on the application date. The minimum salary requirement for applications made on or after 6 April 2023 is £38,800.