Life, Moving to the UK

How to Extend Your UK Tier 2 (General) Visa

It has been three years since I got my Tier 2 (General) visa and since I only got the three year visa the first time I needed to extend it for a further three years. My original post on getting a Tier 2 (General) visa has been my most popular blog post by far so I thought it would be useful to do a follow up post on how to extend this visa if you are continuing to work for the same employer.

Step 1: Get your employer to issue a new Certificate of Sponsorship

You need a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) before you can apply to extend your visa. Unlike when applying for a brand new visa, the CoS can be issued straight away when you’re applying for an extension. You don’t need to wait for the monthly allocation to get your CoS.

As of April 2017, employers are now required to pay an Immigration Skills Charge on top of the CoS fee. This applies to both new visas and extensions.

Step 2: Fill in the online application

Once your employer has assigned the CoS to you, you can apply online for your visa. Since you already have a Tier 2 visa you don’t need to fill out as much information as you do when you apply for the first time (I was thankful I didn’t need to fill out 10 years of travel history again!). Mostly you just need to fill in your personal details and some information about your sponsor and job. Make sure you have a copy of the CoS so you can fill out this section as you need the CoS reference number and your employer’s licence number.

During the application you will be asked to pay the immigration health surcharge. Even if you are exempt from the charge you still need to answer the questions to obtain an immigration health surcharge reference number to include in your application.

At the end you will need to pay the fee for the visa and select whether you want to use the standard, priority or premium service. These are the fees and estimated processing times for each type for non-shortage applications up to 3 years as of June 2017:

  • Standard Service: a decision within 8 weeks – £677
  • Priority Service: a decision within 10 working days – £1136
  • Premium Service: most people get a decision on the same day – £1267

If you use the Standard or Priority Service you need to mail your documents for processing. You also need to pay an additional £19.20 per applicant when you have your biometrics taken.

With the Premium Service you book an appointment and apply in person. You will have your biometrics taken at your appointment at no additional cost.

I opted for the Premium Service since I had travel plans coming up for which I would need my passport, and I didn’t want to risk any delays in having my passport sent back to me. I will be writing a separate post about what to expect at your visa appointment if you choose this option. You generally have to wait a week or two for an available appointment in London, although you can choose to pay an extra £75 to book an out of hours appointment if you want your visa to be processed sooner.

Step 3: Have new passport photos taken

You need to supply two passport photos with your application. These are the standard UK photo size, you can check the gov.uk rules for passport photos for detailed information.

I had mine taken at Snappy Snaps and it cost £13 for a set of 4 photos.

Step 4: Submit your application

The last step is to either mail your documents or attend your appointment, depending on which service you selected.

If you choose Standard or Priority Service, you must send your documents within 15 days to the address on your supporting document checklist (this is provided when you have completed your application payment). If you choose Priority Service, sending in your documents within 2 days will allow enough time for your application to be processed within 10 days.

If you choose Premium Service, you must bring your documents to your Premium Service Centre appointment. It is recommended you bring photocopies of your documents in addition to the originals as this will help them to process your application quicker.

Stay tuned for my next post if you want to know more about what happens when you attend an appointment at a Premium Service Centre. If you have any other questions about applying to extend your Tier 2 (General) visa let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.

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