The UK Skilled Worker visa allows you to carry out suitable work in the UK for an approved employer. This visa replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. The Skilled Worker Visa is the most popular visa of all the work visas offered by the UK.
As a skilled worker from any country, you will be chosen based on the shortage occupation list and will be eligible to receive an offer letter without having to take the labor market test.
How to Qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa
To qualify for the skilled worker visa, the applicant must have a certificate of sponsorship. The certificate must come from an approved UK employer. An Approved Employer in the UK is also known as a Sponsor.
The job offered must be on the list of eligible occupations. The employee must be paid a minimum salary. This minimum salary will depend on the type of work performed.
Specific suitability in each case will depend on the particular job posting. We therefore strongly recommend that candidates seek the advice of a Breytenbachs consultant.
You will normally need a salary of at least £26,200 per year. However, if the “going rate” for your type of job is higher than this amount, you must earn at least that higher amount.
There are some exceptions. You may still be eligible if your job qualifies, but your salary is less than the minimum amount or going rate. You may qualify if you are paid between 70% and 90% of the normal rate for your job, if your salary is at least £20,480 per year and you also meet the following requirements:
- The job is on the list of shortage occupations
- You are under 26 years old, you are studying, you are a recent graduate or you are a professional in training.
- You have a doctoral qualification in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) relevant to your work.
- If you have a PhD in any other subject, your salary must be at least £23,040 per year.
- You have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education.
Keep in mind that there are different salary rules than some healthcare and education jobs. Your Breytenbachs advisor will be able to advise you on the going rate for your occupation.
All UK Skilled Worker Visa applicants must meet English language requirements. You will be exempt if you have already satisfied this in a previous application.
- You can satisfy the English Language Requirement in one of the following ways;
- You are a citizen of a majority English-speaking country.
- Hold a GCSE, A Level, Scottish National qualification at level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English.
- Have a university-level academic qualification taught or researched in English. If you have studied abroad, you must confirm this through UK NARIC.
- You have passed a secure English language test (SELT) from an approved provider.
Applicants who are sponsored to work as doctors, dentists, nurses or midwives, and who have already passed an English language assessment by the relevant regulated professional body, do not need to demonstrate their proficiency in English.
- You must demonstrate that you have at least £1,270 in your bank account. This will demonstrate that you can support yourself in the UK.
- However, you do not need to prove this if you have been in the UK on a valid visa for at least 12 months.
- It is also possible that your employer will cover the costs during your first month in the UK. In these cases, the sponsorship certificate must confirm this.
Duration of stay
The skilled worker visa is valid for a maximum period of five years. Applicants will be able to extend or upgrade their visa without restrictions, provided they meet the eligibility requirements.
- However, after five years on this immigration path, an applicant should be able to qualify for indefinite leave to remain.
- Right to work
While you hold a UK Skilled Worker Visa, you will be able to:
- Accepts additional work under certain circumstances
- Do voluntary work
The following operations cannot be performed:
- Claim most benefits or state pension.
- Changing jobs or employers without following the relevant visa procedures.
What are the benefits of the Skilled Worker Visa route?
A better opportunity for employers to recruit talent from around the world.
- The new scheme abolished the resident labor market test (RLMT), under which stable workers could apply for positions before they were offered to migrants.
- More generous provisions allow changes to visa routes from within the UK.
- Lower minimum salary requirements for new hires (who are starting their careers). They will have to meet 70% of the going rate for their occupation code or £20,960, whichever is higher.
- There will be no limit on the number of skilled workers who can come to the UK.
- Skilled workers can now request unlimited visa extensions, compared to the old Tier 2 (General) visa route, where skilled workers could request extensions of up to six years.
- Applicants can live, work and settle in the UK and apply for ILR after having resided in the UK for five years.
What is needed to successfully apply for a skilled worker visa?
An applicant will need the following documents to submit an application under the Skilled Worker route:
- A valid passport
- A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), issued by the employer
- The job posting must require a skill level equal to or above RQF3 (A level equivalent)
- Evidence that you meet the required level of English language proficiency
- Proof that the candidate meets the maintenance requirements by showing proof of their savings or a commitment from the employer
- Tuberculosis testing, if your country is listed in Appendix T
What are the qualifying points for a skilled worker visa?
An applicant will need a minimum of 70 points to qualify for the Skilled Worker route as below.
Mandatory 50 points awarded to all qualified migrants which are as follows:
- Speaking English at the required level – 10 points
- Job offer from an approved sponsor – 20 points
- Skill level relevant to the candidate’s job – 20 points
- Negotiable salary points
- Salary £20,960 to £23,579. Must meet at least 80% of the minimum salary requirements for the respective profession (whichever is higher) – 0 points
- Salary £23,580 to £26,199. Must meet at least 90% of the minimum wage requirement for their respective profession (whichever is higher) – 10 points
- Salary of £26,200 or above. They must meet at least the minimum requirement for the respective profession (whichever is higher) – 20 points
- More exchangeable points
- Have a job in a shortage occupation as designated by the Immigration Advisory Committee – 20 points
- PhD in a subject related to current job – 10 points
- PhD in a STEM subject related to current job – 20 points
- Have a job listed in a healthcare or education occupation/new entrant to the labor market and the applicant’s salary is equal to or above both £20,960 per annum and the going rate for the SOC code – 20 points
How can I apply for the skilled worker en route visa?
Applicants must apply online using the application form and pay the applicable fees. A list of current application fees can be found on the UK Government website by accessing the following link here.
How to get a UK skilled work visa/who can apply
Applicants wishing to come to the UK to work or extend their leave in the UK can apply for a Skilled Worker Visa if:
- Have a job offer from a UK employer who is on the Registered Sponsors list with a job that meets the required skill level and minimum salary threshold
- Have a valid sponsorship certificate from your potential employer
- Meets English language requirements
- Meet the financial requirement
- Score at least 70 points on the Points Based System (PBS).
Applicants will be required to apply using the form on the Gov.uk website. Once you have submitted your application and paid your visa fees (which you can find here) along with the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), you will be directed to a third-party website to book your biometric appointment.
Skilled Worker Visa Processing Times?
Standard processing times for a skilled worker application are 8 weeks from within the UK and 15 working days from outside the UK. However, these times are not guaranteed and cases considered more “complex” or “high risk” may take longer to decide.
Priority services are generally available as follows:-
- Priority Service: Processing in 5 business days
- Super Priority Service: 24-hour processing
- For priority (expedited) services, additional costs apply, in addition to visa fees.
Can I apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa/switch to a Skilled Worker Visa?
Applicants can apply for a permit to remain in the UK as skilled worker, provided they have a valid permit in the UK. You cannot switch to this route in the UK if you are currently in the UK:
With a visit visa
- On a short-term student visa
- On a student visa parent of a child
- With seasonal worker visa
- On a domestic worker with a private domestic visa
- On immigration bail
- Because you were given permission to stay out of the immigration rules
- You must apply from outside the UK if you fall into one of the categories above.
What can I do if my request for the Skilled Worker route is rejected?
There is currently no appeal privilege for the refusal of a route request for a skilled worker made from outside or within the UK. However, you may have the option to request an administrative review or a judicial review. Our team of immigration lawyers will be able to help you with your skilled worker visa application or advise you on the best alternative to suit your needs.
What are the skilled worker visa requirements for employers?
The sponsor must have a valid sponsor license in order to award a “Certificate of Sponsorship” to the prospective candidate.
The Certificate of Sponsorship contains information about the job offer.
The work must:
- Be at the correct skill level for sponsorship
- Be paid at the correct level for the sponsorship
Furthermore, the sponsor, when awarding the Certificate of Sponsorship, is verifying that it will comply with the duties associated with being an authorized sponsor, including monitoring sponsored workers and reporting (to the Home Office) major changes in the working conditions of staff sponsored, where applicable.
How much does a UK skilled work visa cost?
The question is expensive
Outside of the UK application:
- Application fee (3-year visa): £625 per applicant
- Application fee (5-year visa): £1,235 per applicant
- Within the UK application:
- Application fee (3-year visa): £719 per applicant
- Application fee (5-year visa): £1,423 per applicant
List of occupations in shortage (inside and outside the UK):
- Application fee (3-year visa): £479 per applicant
- Application fee (5-year visa): £943 per applicant
- Immigration Health Surcharge: £624 per year/per adult and £470 per year/per child under 18
- Healthcare Work Visa (Inside and Outside the UK)
- Application fee (3-year visa): £247 per applicant
- Application fee (5-year visa): £479 per applicant