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Work Visas: The U.K. Tier 2 vs the USA H-1B

Work Visas: H-1B v Tier 2
Work Visas: H-1B v Tier 2

  Work Visas: The U.K.’s Tier 2 vs the U.S.A.’s H-1B

 

  1. The U.K.’s Tier 2

In the case of someone from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland entering the U.K. and wishing to live and work there, that individual must apply for the Tier 2 (General) Visa.[1] The second requirement that individual should fulfil, in order to apply for the Tier 2 Visa, is to have been offered a skilled job within the United Kingdom.[2]

 

  • Employer

More specifically, the employer cannot be a ‘random’ one: they must be a licensed sponsor who has been given the right by the U.K. government to sponsor either migrants or students wishing to come into the U.K.[3] A full list of the organizations that have granted such a license can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/664037/2017-12-01_Tier_25_Register_of_Sponsors.pdf.[4]

The sponsor is responsible for checking that you have the necessary education and skills required for the job you will be hired to do and for providing you with a certificate of sponsorship along with a reference number that will be included in your visa application.[5] This certificate is an electronic document which includes your personal details as well as a description for the job you have been offered.[6] The reference number, it needs emphasising. is to be used within three months of issuance and not more than once. Always remember to request the licensed employee to provide you with all the work-related information required for your application and particularly your salary details. These constitute a crucial point that will determine whether you will be granted the visa or not.[7]

 

  • Application requirements

In order to be able to apply for the work Tier 2 visa, you, the applicant, must fulfil a number of additional requirements in addition to a valid sponsorship certificate provided by your employer.

Firstly, as an applicant, you must show that you will be getting paid for your job and that the salary will be appropriate. That means that the potential job must provide you either with an annual salary of at least £30,000 or with the appropriate rate for the job you have been offered. In any case, the highest salary rate prevails.[8] There are some exceptions for jobs in which you will be paid less, such as a nurse, a secondary school teacher or a midwife. For this reason the British government has issued a detailed Policy Guidance explaining[9] such cases. It can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/606182/Tier_2_Policy_Guidance_04_17.pdf.

Furthermore, the applicant has to prove in his/her application a knowledge of English .[10] This requirement can be fulfilled by either passing an approved English Language Test (covering reading, writing, listening and speaking with at least B1 level) or by having obtained an academic degree that was taught exclusively in English and which the U.K. NARIC recognizes as being equivalent to a Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD degree obtained within the U.K.[11] The Policy Guidance mentioned above includes some exceptions to this rule by offering alternative ways through which you may meet the higher level of English required. In addition, there is no need to prove your English knowledge if you a national of an English-speaking country.[12]

Another requirement that you must fulfil, in order to be eligible to apply for the visa, is that you possess personal savings that will enable you to support yourself when you first arrive in the U.K. More specifically you will have to prove that the amount of £945 has been included in your bank account for a period of 90 days before applying for the work visa.[13] This requirement, however, is not necessary if you have a fully approved licensed sponsor who can guarantee the authorities in the sponsor certificate that he/she will provide you with the amount of £945 for one month, in order for you to be able to support yourself.[14]

In addition, the applicant must prove that he/she is able to travel and must provide the authorities with his/her travel history over the previous five years.[15]

Another very important eligibility criterion for the Tier 2 visa application is the tuberculosis test results[16] should you be coming from one of the countries included in this list, https://www.gov.uk/tb-test-visa/countries-where-you-need-a-tb-test-to-enter-the-uk. If you are entering the U.K. from one of the listed counties but where there is no local testing centre, you will be required to take the test in a neighbouring country instead.[17]

Finally, in the event that you will be working with vulnerable groups in sectors such as education, healthcare, therapy or social services[18], you will need to provide a criminal record certificate from any country you have lived in for a year or for at least the last ten years.[19]

 

  • Application

The application for the Tier 2 visa must be done online, with the only exception being that of North Korea. For these applicants, the application form that must be downloaded (as well as detailed instructions on how to proceed) can be found here[20]: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-form-for-uk-visa-to-work-study-and-for-dependants-and-right-of-abode-form-vaf2.

As an applicant, you may submit your complete application up to three months from the day that you expect to start working in the U.K., such as is indicated in your sponsorship application. It should take up to three weeks for your application to proceed and for you get a decision regarding your visa.[21] Furthermore, you will be required to pay fees for your application. These start from as low as £391 and can go up to £1944.[22] These fees will be determined by your current situation; the way you are applying; how long you are planning to stay; whether it is a shortage occupation or not, and your location at the point of submitting your application. You should keep in mind that, in any case, you may be required as part of your application to pay for the healthcare surcharge. This can be calculated online via[23]: https://www.immigration-health-surcharge.service.gov.uk/checker/type.

 

  • Duration

The Tier 2 Visa will be valid for a maximum period of five years and 14 days or for the time mentioned in your sponsorship certificate plus one month.[24] In any event, the applicant may move to the U.K. two weeks prior to commencing the job. The applicant has the right to extend Tier 2 Visa for another five years, with the maximum total stay being six years.[25]

 

  1. S H-1B Visa

Where a U.S. company wishes to employ workers of graduate level in a specialty occupation then the H-1B Visa will enable them to do so. A specialty occupation is described as any kind of job that requires either theoretical or practical expertise (or both) in the fields of science, medicine, IT, accounting, and engineering amongst others.[26] Job positions that require at least a Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent degree level and that you are fit for either via work experience or other professional qualifications, can also fall under the H-1B Visa for specialty workers.[27]

 

  • Employer

The H-1B constitutes a special type of visa as it is a kind of ‘non-immigrant work permit’ that is requested by the employer who may be seeking employee workers from abroad for an extended period. The application process for such a visa is speedier than the U.S. Green Card system. The latter has been the main type of visa for foreigners coming to live and work in the United States since the 1940s.[28] The employer who is based in the U.S. should apply for the H-1B Visa six months before the date that he wishes it to be valid from.[29] That means if he/she needs the employee to start working by the actual start of the visa, say July 1st 2018, he/she must submit the relevant visa application by January 1st 2018 in order for the worker to be able to do so.

In order for a job to fall under the category of the specialty occupation, one of the criteria described below must be fulfilled.[30] Firstly the job position must have as a minimum educational requirement a “Bachelor’s degree or higher degree or its equivalent”.[31] Alternatively the degree requirement must be one that is common in the respective industry in which the company belongs or else one that is necessary for a complex and unique job to be performed. In addition the degree requirement must be the same as that which the employer requires for the same job under all circumstances – without any exceptions being made. Finally, the job duties and tasks need to be so specialised that the necessary knowledge for the performance of the job can only be gained through a Bachelor’s or an equivalent level of degree.[32]

 

  • Application Requirements

Aside from the employer who is responsible for petitioning for the entry of the employee, the latter must also fulfil one of the following requirements in order to be eligible for the H1-B Visa.[33] Thus, if you are wondering whether you qualify for a job offer related to specialty occupation, possession of a U.S. Bachelor’s or higher educational degree necessary for the specific occupation (from either a college or university that is accredited) is a requirement.[34] Another option is if you have a foreign degree that is considered equivalent to U.S. Bachelor’s or higher educational degree necessary for the specific occupation. An unrestricted licence from a state, registration or a certificate which allows you to practice the specific occupation in the respective state constitutes an eligibility option also. Lastly, an individual may also be eligible, if rather than a degree, he/she has education, training or work experience that is equivalent to the required education degree and where he/she has held such responsible positions related to the occupation that they are considered an expert at the job field.[35]

 

  • Application

The application for H-1B Visa must be completed by the employer and can only be done online[36] through the United States Department of Labor by creating an account in the following link: https://icert.doleta.gov/. [37]

 

  • Duration

The duration of the H1-B Visa is three years and there is the possibility of extending it for a period up to six years.[38] It should be noted, however, that the H1-B visa gives you the opportunity of applying and obtaining the U.S. Green Card (which constitutes a permanent residency permit) either during the period that H1-B Visa is still valid or before it expires, should you wish to continue living and working in the U.S.[39]

 

[1] Gov.U.K, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general> accessed 3 December 2017.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Gov.U.K, ‘Register of Sponsors’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/664037/2017-12-01_Tier_25_Register_of_Sponsors.pdf> accessed 3 December 2017.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Gov.UK, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/eligibility> accessed 3 December 2017.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Gov.UK, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/eligibility> accessed 3 December 2017.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Gov.UK, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/eligibility> accessed 3 December 2017.

[11] Gov.U.K, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/knowledge-of-english> accessed 3 December 2017.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Gov.UK, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/eligibility> accessed 3 December 2017.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Gov.UK, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/eligibility> accessed 3 December 2017.

[17] Gov.U.K, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tb-test-visa/countries-where-you-need-a-tb-test-to-enter-the-uk> accessed 3 December 2017.

 

[18] Gov.U.K, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/documents-you-must-provide> accessed 3 December 2017.

[19] Govuk, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (GovUK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tb-test-visa/countries-where-you-need-a-tb-test-to-enter-the-uk> accessed 3 December 2017.

[20] Gov.U.K, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general/apply> accessed 3 December 2017

[21] Gov.U.K, ‘Tier 2 (General) visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general> accessed 3 December 2017.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Gov.U.K, ‘Tier 2 (General) Visa’ (Gov.UK, 2017) <https://www.gov.uk/tier-2-general> accessed 3 December 2017.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Workpermit.com, ‘US H-1B Visa for Specialty Workers’ (Workpermit.com, 2017) <http://workpermit.com/immigration/usa/us-h-1b-visa-specialty-workers> accessed 3 December 2017.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Workpermit.com, ‘US H-1B Visa for Specialty Workers’ (Workpermit.com, 2017) <http://workpermit.com/immigration/usa/us-h-1b-visa-specialty-workers> accessed 3 December 2017.

[29] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, ‘H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models’ (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2017) <https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models> accessed 3 December 2017.

[30] Ibid.

[31] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, ‘H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models’ (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2017) <https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models> accessed 3 December 2017.

[32] Ibid.

[33] U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, ‘H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models’ (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2017) <https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models> accessed 3 December 2017.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Workpermit.com, ‘US H-1B Visa for Specialty Workers’ (Workpermit.com, 2017) <http://workpermit.com/immigration/usa/us-h-1b-visa-specialty-workers> accessed 3 December 2017.

[37] U.S. Department of Labor, ‘ICERT Visa Portal System’ (US Department of Labor, 2017) <https://icert.doleta.gov> accessed 3 December 2017.

 

[38] U..S Citizenship and Immigration Services, ‘H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models’ (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2017) <https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models> accessed 3 December 2017.

[39] Workpermit.com, ‘U.S. H-1B Visa for Specialty Workers’ (Workpermit.com, 2017) <http://workpermit.com/immigration/usa/us-h-1b-visa-specialty-workers> accessed 3 December 2017.

 

Article by Elizabeth Ntilo