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Minimum salary rates for Tier 2 visas

The minimum salary rate for a Tier 2 visa depends on whether the indivdual is classed as a 'new entrant' or an 'experienced worker'.

From 6 April 2017, the minimum salary rate for 'new entrants' is £20,800, and for 'experienced workers' is £30,000. This represents the absolute minimum salary an individual must receive in order to be eligible for a Tier 2 visa. For pro-rata appointments, please contact the Compliance Team for further advice.

The minimum salary criteria is now one of the most complex areas in Tier 2. The flowchart below will assist you in determining which minimum salary level will apply:

You must ensure the individual is paid at or above either the SOC code minimum or the absolute minimum, whichever is the highest. For example:


  • You wish to appoint an 'experienced' Research Associate through Tier 2 (SOC code 2119). As the SOC code minimum is £29,000, and the absolute minimum is £30,000, they must be paid at or above the absolute minimum of £30,000.
  • You wish to appoint an 'experienced' University Lecturer through Tier 2 (SOC code 2311). As the SOC code minimum is £33,000, and the absolute minimum is £30,000, they must be paid at or above the SOC code minimum of £33,000.


SOC Code minimum rates


For PhD level SOC Codes (which are most commonly seen by the University), the following minimum salary rates apply:

SOC Code

Equivalent University job role

Minimum ‘New Entrant’ Rate

Minimum ‘Experienced’ Rate


2111 Chemical Scientists

Codes 2111-2119 can be all used to define the following job roles, as appropriate:


  • Research Assistant
  • Research Associate
  • Senior Research Associate
  • Visiting researcher
  • Research Fellow



2112 Biological Scientists and Biochemists



2113 Physical Scientists



2114 Social and Humanities Scientists



2119 Natural and Social Science Professionals not elsewhere classified



2150 Research and Development Managers

Director of Research



2311 Higher Education Teaching Professionals

  • University Lecturer
  • Reader
  • Professor



Research Assistants and the 'Experienced' rate

There is a potential problem when appointing Research Assistants who are classed as 'experienced' workers through Tier 2. This is because only points 38 & 39 of the Grade 5 salary scale are above the minimum £30,000 'experienced worker' rate.

For Research Assistants positions who fall into the ‘experienced worker’ category and you wish to sponsor through Tier 2, you must complete an HR4 which provides objective justification as to why the individual is being appointed at the top of the scale, based upon their skills/experience and expected contribution to the role. 

For Research Assistant positions where the successful candidate is either 25 and under or regardless of age is switching from a Tier 4 visa with a contract of 3 years or less, the appointment will not be requried to meet the minimum £30,000 rate and the individual can be appointed as appropriate within the Grade 5 scale.