Skilled Worker Visa

Happy workers in an office

With a Skilled Worker Visa companies can sponsor foreign talent to work for them in the UK

What is a ‘Skilled Worker Visa’?

The skilled worker visa allows migrant professionals to work for a Home Office licensed sponsor employer in the UK.

What are the requirements for a Skilled Worker Visa?

Anyone can apply for a Skilled Worker Visa so long as they can meet the following legal requirements:

    • You are aged 18 or over;
    • You do not have an adverse immigration history;
    • You have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from a Home Office licensed UK employer;
    • You’re coming to fill a genuine vacancy;
    • Your sponsor has paid the required Immigration Skills Charge;
    • Your job is at an appropriate skill level – RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level);
    • You are from a recognized majority English speaking country, or have passed an approved English language test at CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0) or above, or have a degree taught in English, or have obtained a GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK, or have met the requirement, of level B1, in a successful UK immigration application previously;
    • Your UK employer will offer you a salary which is higher of £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for your occupation;
    • You have maintenance funds to support yourself without relying on public funds;
    • You have a clean criminal record certificate, if required; and
    • You have provided a valid TB certificate, if required.

As the requirements you’re expected to meet may vary depending on your circumstances it’s advisable to speak to an immigration lawyer for sepcialist advice.

Can I apply for Skilled Worker Visa if I am offered a lower salary?

In order to qualify for the Skilled Worker Visa you’ll need a salary of at least £25,600 or the going rate for your job, whichever is higher.

If you earn less than the higher of either £25,600 or the going rate for your job you can still apply for the Skilled Worker Visa as long as you’re paid at least £20,480. You will, however, need ‘trading’ points on other characteristics against your salary. For instance, if you have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job you can gain more points for these characteristics to make up for the low salary as follows:

    • An applicant with a relevant PhD qualification may be paid a salary which meets or exceeds £23,040/year and 90% of the published going rate for the occupation;
    • An applicant with a job in shortage occupations list may be paid a salary which meets or exceeds £20,480/year and 80% of the published going rate for the occupation;
    • An applicant with a relevant STEM PhD qualification may be paid a salary which meets or exceeds £20,480/year and 80% of the published going rate for the occupation;
    • A new entrant to the labour market may be paid a salary which meets or exceeds £20,480/year and 70% of the published going rate for the occupation;
    • An application for a job in a listed health or education occupation may be paid a salary which meets or exceeds £20,480/year and 80% of the published going rate for the occupation.

What is the skilled worker maintenance funds / financial requirement?

Anyone applying for a skilled worker visa will need to have at least £1,270 available in their bank account for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the date of your visa application.

If your UK employer is an ‘A-rated sponsor’ (a rating is given by the Home Office) who is willing to certify maintenance on your Certificate of Sponsorship, you will be exempt from the maintenance funds requirement.

Certifying maintenance means your employer/sponsor is happy to meet your maintenance costs up to the end of the first month of your employment, to an amount of at least £1,270, if required.

Those who are applying from inside the UK with permission to be here for the last 12 months or more at the date of application are also exempt from the maintenance funs requirement.

What is the ‘criminal record certificate’ requirement?

Those applying for skilled worker visa from overseas for jobs in the health, care, welfare and education must provide a criminal record certificate for any country in which, since the age of 18 and in the last 10 years, they have been present for 12 months or more (whether continuously or in total).

You must provide the criminal record certificate unless it is not reasonably practical for you to obtain one.

What does ‘new entrant to the labour market’ mean?

New entrants to the labour market are those under 26 years of age at the date of applicatio or those who are switching from a Student or a Graduate Visa and applying for a maximum of three years’ Skilled Worker Visa. New entrants also include workers postdoctoral research positions and those working towards professional a qualification, registration or chartered status.  New entrants to the labour market are able to benefit from lower salary thresholds which means their employers can pay them a salary which meets or exceeds £20,480/year and 70% of the published going rate for the occupation.

What is a ‘shortage occupation’?

The Shortage Occupation List is a list of employment roles which are difficult to fill due to shortage of UK based applicants with certain skills.  If your job falls in the Shortage Occupation List your employer can benefit from a lower salary threshold which means they can pay the sponsored worker a lower salary salary which meets or exceeds £20,480/year and 80% of the published going rate for the occupation.

Is a Resident Labour Market Test required for a Skilled Worker Visa?

The new Skilled Worker Visa scheme has done away with the need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test making it easier for UK employers to sponsor foreign workers. The UK employers however must still be able to demonstrate that they are seeking to fill a genuine vacancy.

Who can switching into the Skilled Worker Visa?

Anyone with valid leave to remain in the UK may switch into the Skilled Worker visa unless their previous visa was under one of the following categories:

    • Visitor visa
    • Short-term student visa
    • Parent of a Child Student visa
    • Seasonal Worker visa
    • Domestic Worker in a Private Household visa
    • Leave outside the Immigration Rules.

What is the maximum length of a Skilled Worker Visa?

A Skilled Worker Visa is granted for the duration of your employment + 14 days. The duration of your employment is mentioned on your Certificate of Sponsorship (which may be up to a maximum of 5 years).

What is the maximum length of time allowed in the Skilled Worker scheme?

Unlike the Tier 2 (General) visa which allowed a maximum stay of 6 years, the Skilled Worker visa scheme has no restriction on the length of time you can stay in the UK. This means you can apply to extend it continuously so long as you meet the applicable legal requirements.

Is there a cooling off period in the Skilled Worker Visa scheme?

Whilst the previous Tier 2 (General) visa scheme required applicants to wait for 12 months before applying for a new Tier 2 (General) visa from overseas, the Skilled Worker Visa has no such Cooling Off requirement.

What are the conditions of stay under the Skilled Worker Visa scheme?

As a Skilled Worker Visa holder you must work in the job you have been sponsored for for your employer. You may however take supplementary employment as long as you continue to work in your  main job. Skilled Worker Visa holders are also allowed to study subject to ATAS Certificate requirement if applicable to their course.  Skilled Worker Visa holders are expected to fund their stay with their earnings therefore recourse to public funds is not allowed.

Can a Skilled Worker Visa holder apply to stay in the permanently?

Skilled Worker Visa holders can apply to live in the UK permanently (settlement or indefinite leave to remain) after completing five years in the UK as long as they meet the following requirements:

    • they have accumulated a 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK;
    • the 5-year continuous period was spent under the following immigration categories: Skilled Worker, Global talentInnovator, Tier 2 Minister of Religion, Tier 2 Sportsperson, Representative of an Overseas Business or as a Tier 1 investor or Exceptional Talent (except under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme);
    • their absences from the UK do not exceed 180 days in each year of the relevant 5 years;
    • they have passed the Life in the UK test (unless aged 65 or over, or exempt);
    • their employer/sponsor still has a Sponsor License and the sponsor can confirm that they still need the worker to be in the job for the foreseeable future;
    • they’re and will be paid a salary threshold requirement (the higher of the general rate and the going rate) for the foreseeable future.

What is the Skilled Worker ILR Salary Requirement?

The Skilled Worker ILR salary requirement is to be paid the higher of £25,600/year or the published ‘going rate’ for the occupation.

If you fall into the following categories you can apply for ILR with the higher of £20,480/year or the ‘going rate’ for the occupation:

    • Those sponsored in their most recent application for a job with a shortage occupation code or a specified health or education occupation code; or
    • Those whose relevant 5 years’ residence includes time spent on Tier 2 (General) visa during which you were sponsored for a job in one of the following occupation 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 • 2150 Research and development managers • 2311 Higher education teaching professionals.

Are ‘salary reductions’ permitted via tradeable points permitted in Skilled Worker ILR application?

The salary reductions permitted by way of tradeable points do not meet the Skilled Worker ILR application requirements.

Can skilled workers’ families apply to come to the UK?

Skilled Worker visa holders can apply for their dependent partner and their children to live with them in the UK.

Can you help my employer apply for a Sponsor License?

If your employer is not already a licensed sponsor and they would like to sponsor a migrant worker through the skilled worker route, we can provide advice and representation to help them apply for a license.

Can you help me make an application for Skilled Worker Visa?

Whether it’s an application for skilled worker visa, dependent visa, or indefinite leave to remain / settlement, our specialist immigration lawyers are always on hand to provide expert advice and representation to increase your prospects of success.

What can I do if my application for Skilled Worker Visa has been refused?

If your Skilled Worker Visa application for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain / settlement has been refused unlawfully you may be able to make an Administrative Review application to challenge the decision.

Our specialist immigration lawyers can advise on the merits of making a fresh application or challenging the decision by way of an Administrative Review application.

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