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Defining the vacancy and SOC Codes

All employees sponsored under Tier 2 (General) must meet minimum skill level (and salary) requirements:

  • The minimum skill level for the job must be degree level or above.
  • In practice, most jobs at or above Grade 6 may be eligible for sponsorship through Tier 2. Research Assistants and Teaching Associates may also be eligible.

For a job to be eligible, it must be matched against an applicable 'SOC Code' as confirmation that it meets minimum skill level requirements. The SOC Codes are the method the Government uses for classifying jobs according to their titles and activities.The Code of Practice which contains all the SOC Codes can be found here:

When applying for a Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship, departments/institutions must choose the relevant SOC Code for the job that the sponsored employee will fill. However, in practice, it is vital that the appropriate SOC code has already been identified at the start of the recruitment process so that:

  • It is known whether the job meets the minimum requirements for a Tier 2 visa; and
  • The department/institution can ensure that the advertising and selection requirements are met for the level of SOC code which has been chosen. (PhD level SOC Codes have different requirements; please see the advertising and selection sections for further guidance)

Academic and Research vacancies

Where an appointment is made to an Academic or Research role, such vacancies will commonly be classified within a PhD level SOC Code (Please note: there is no requirement for those working in a PhD level SOC code to actually hold a PhD. It simply means that the work the person will do is skilled to that level).

  • University Lecturers/Professors will commonly be classified within SOC Code '2311: Higher Education Teaching Professionals'.

  • Research Directors will commonly be classified within SOC Code '2150: Research and Development Managers'

  • Research Assistants/Associates/Senior Research Associates/Research Fellows can be classified in any of the following applicable SOC Codes:
  • 2111 Chemical Scientists
  • 2112 Biological Scientists and Biochemists
  • 2113 Physical Scientists
  • 2114 Social and Humanities Scientists
  • 2119 Natural and Social Science Professionals not elsewhere classified

Academic-related vacancies

It is less common for academic-related roles to require a Tier 2 CoS. However, where it does arise, Academic-Related roles in general, will be classified in non-PhD level roles -  in all instances, where an Academic-Related role may require a Tier 2 CoS, please contact the Compliance Team and/or the Grading & Reward Team for confirmation of the necessary SOC Code.

Assistant Staff vacancies

As the skill level requirements for a Tier 2 visa are set at a minimum of NQF level 6 or above, it is very unlikely that an Assistant staff role will be eligible for a Tier 2 CoS. However, please contact the Compliance Team for further guidance if necessary.