If you are a foreign national wanting to work in the UK but you are subject to immigration control, you must first apply for a UK workers visa. The Home Office applies a points-based system in conjunction with other category-specific requirements under the Immigration Rules.
As a skilled worker you can apply to enter or remain in the UK if you have been offered a job here from a licensed sponsor with a valid certificate of sponsorship and you pass the points-based assessment (click here for Businesses & Sponsors). There are 4 categories of skilled worker under Tier 2 of the points-based system:
TIER 2 GENERAL VISA
you can apply under this category if you are a skilled worker who has been offered a job to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker. To apply you will need 70 points. To be granted a Tier 2 Visa under the general category, you must score 50 points by providing a certificate of sponsorship and evidence of an appropriate salary, and the remaining 20 points for English language ability and maintenance funds. There is an annual limit (for 2013-2014, 20,700 for skilled workers with an annual salary below £152,100).
TIER 2 SPORTS PERSON VISA
you can apply under this category if you are an elite internationally established sportsperson or coach who will make a significant contribution to the development of your sport. To apply you must score a total of 70 points. You must obtain 50 points from a certificate of sponsorship and endorsement from your sport’s governing body. The remaining 20 points is from satisfying the English language ability and for having an appropriate salary.
For short stays as a sports person you should apply under Tier 5 (Temporary workers – creative and sporting).
TIER 2 MINISTER OF RELIGION VISA
you can apply under this category if you have been offered employment in the UK as a minister of religion, a missionary or member of a religious order. To apply you must score a total of 70 points. You must obtain 50 points for a certificate of sponsorship, and the remaining 20 points is from satisfying the English language ability and for having an appropriate salary.
TIER 2 INTRA-COMPANY TRANSFER VISA
you can apply under this category if you are an employee of a multinational company and you are being transferred by your overseas employer to a UK branch, either long-term or for frequent short visits. You can apply for a Tier 2 visa as a skilled member of staff to fill a post that cannot be filled by a new recruit from the resident workforce; as a graduate trainee under a structured training programme which defines progression towards a managerial or specialist role; or under a skills transfer which allows the transfer of new graduate employees to learn the skills and knowledge required to perform their job overseas, or to impart their specialist skills or knowledge to the UK workforce.
To apply you will need 60 points. You must score 50 points by providing a certificate of sponsorship and evidence of an appropriate salary, and the remaining 10 points for maintenance funds.
If you currently have permission to stay in the UK under a Tier 2 or different immigration category you may be able to switch to or from a Tier 2 category from inside the UK although this will involve a fresh points-based assessment. An application for a skilled worker Tier 2 visa can be complex and using the services of an immigration expert is highly recommended.