I'm a freelance software engineer from outside the EU. I have been working with a British client who owns a registered UK business for about two years.

He and I both plan for me to move to UK for a contract, and as far as I know, the Tier two skilled visa seems to cover my case.

  • My job field is listed in the shortage skills list. But practically, it's not that hard to find other British employees for the position.

  • I have a somewhat good profile, with good English. I'm not native English, but I'm confident I can pass the English language requirement exam.

If I have been working with him for some time, and if the employer explicitly needs to hire me, will freelancing help me to increase my odds in getting visa? I did not sign any official contract but we signed an NDA before starting work. I don't think an NDA matter though.

How long does it usually take to get a certificate of sponsorship?

  • No software engineering field is listed in the UK shortage occupation list. visabureau.com/uk/shortage-occupations-list.aspx
    – ouflak
    Apr 26, 2015 at 12:15
  • @ouflak it looks like you missed software professionals in visual effects and computer animation.
    – phoog
    May 3, 2015 at 4:25
  • @phoog, That's not software professionals. That's graphical artists. I have worked with several in my career, and believe me, they are worth their weight in gold. No surprise they are on this list, especially the 3D specialists.
    – ouflak
    May 3, 2015 at 12:51
  • @ouflak The fact that a "Software Developer," "Systems Engineer," or "Shader Writer" is also a graphic artist doesn't stop them from being a "Software Professional (2132)". Granted, only a tiny minority of software professionals would have the skills required for such a position, sitting as it does at the intersection of software and graphic arts.
    – phoog
    May 4, 2015 at 14:30
  • @phoog, Agreed. I didn't see (2132). This discussion should be moved to an answer of some sort.
    – ouflak
    May 5, 2015 at 7:18

1 Answer 1


First, the UK has really cracked down hard on the work visa system. The shortage occupations list, and its usage, has received particular scrutiny over the last several years. If an occupation is listed there, then it probably is 'hard to find British employees for these positions'. The COS can take from 2 weeks to 8 weeks depending on timing, more often towards the shorter period of time. There will be several key factors in whether you can get the visa, but it basically boils down to whether your employer has got the license in order and is willing to pay you at or above the minimum accepted wage rate for that position (£29,600 from your description).

To elaborate on the employer part:

  • The job has to actually be what is described in the Shortage Occupation list.
  • The employer MUST give an appropriate job title and reference the correct code (2136 from this link here).
  • The business must meet the qualifications for the license and continue to meet those qualifications for the entirety of your employement.

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