Skilled Worker Visa

The Skilled Worker Visa is a visa category that has replaced the Tier 2 (General) Work Visa. This visa is for eligible applicants who wish to work in the UK with a valid sponsor.

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What is the Skilled Worker Visa?

The Skilled Worker visa is a type of work visa that allows an eligible applicant to come to the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer.

This visa has replaced the older Tier 2 (General) work visa. Since Britain left the EU, people who are citizens of an EU country (as well as those from Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Iceland) now need to apply for the Skilled Worker visa.

If a person from one of the above countries was settled in the UK before the 1st January 2021, they can apply for the free EU Settlement Scheme. Irish citizens living in the UK do not have to apply for work visas or the EU Settlement Scheme.

Since the changes to the immigration system in January 2021, applicants will need to achieve 70 points under the new points-based system in order to be eligible for the Skilled Worker route.

If you need support from Newcastle Immigration Lawyers with your Skilled Worker Visa, you can get in touch with us on 0191 303 8965 or use the contact form to speak to one of our advisers and receive immediate support with your case.

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Who can apply for a Skilled Worker Visa?

To apply for a Skilled Worker Visa, you should ensure your application meets the following requirements:

  • Be  at least 18 years of age
  • Hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for your job
  • There is proof of a genuine vacancy for the role
  • Your sponsor has paid the immigration skills charge (where relevant)
  • The role is at the appropriate skill level for your expertise
  • You have competency in English to at least Level B1 on the CEFR scale
  • Your salary equals or exceeds the general salary threshold and the average rate for the position
  • You can prove that you meet the minimum financial requirements to support yourself

There are other specific eligibility criteria that applicants must prove they meet, and these are based on individual circumstances.

What are the Skilled Worker Visa eligible jobs?

In order to meet the requirements of this visa, an applicant must receive a formal job offer from an approved employer, and the job must be an approved occupation. You can consult the full list of eligible occupations before making your application.

You will see that each job has an occupation code and this code will be used in your visa application. If the Home Office does not believe that your sponsor has chosen the correct code for your application, then it may be refused.

Shortage occupations

If you are applying for a role that is on the shortage occupation list, you can be paid 80% of the going rate and you will still be eligible to apply for your Skilled Worker Visa.

The shortage occupation list can be viewed at the Gov.uk website.

Salary threshold requirements

The salary threshold requirements must be met in order to meet the requirements of the visa application.

In order to apply for the Skilled Worker route, it must be proven that the salary for the role equals or exceeds a general salary threshold and the going rate for the position (unless the position is on the shortage occupation list)

This rate can be checked in the relevant occupation list.

In the majority of situations, a Skilled Worker must have accepted a role where the gross salary is at least £25,600 or 100% of the going rate for the position – whichever is higher.

English language requirements

In order to be granted a Skilled Worker Visa, you should show that you have an ability of at least level B1 of English.

In order to prove your level, you should fulfil one of the following criteria:

  • Hold a certificate for a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider
  • Hold a GCSE, A Level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or higher, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English qualification
  • Having an approved degree-level academic qualification taught through the medium of English
  • Be a national of one of the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, the USA
  • If you are being sponsored to work as a doctor, dentist, nurse, or midwife, and you already hold an English language assessment accepted by the appropriate professional body

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Financial requirements

To receive a positive decision as part of the Skilled Worker route, you should show that you meet the minimum financial requirements of the role.

As with other visa categories, the evidence for the financial requirements includes holding the funds in a valid financial institution in a named account owned by the applicant and showing that the funds have been acquired legally.

The Home Office applies the below formula when assessing whether a candidate has adequate maintenance.

A – B ≥ C

(A minus B is greater than or equal to C)

Where A is net income, B refers to housing costs and C is the amount of income support that an equivalent UK family would receive. The full list of criteria can be found in the Home Office guidance on the financial requirements.

How to apply for the Skilled Worker Visa

How you apply depends on whether you are applying from inside the UK, outside the UK, or extending the visa.

If you have been told by your future employer that you have met the points requirement for sponsorship and you have accepted the offer of employment, you will be asked to provide information so that your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) can be issued.

Once the CoS has been issued, you will have 90 days to apply for your visa. You should provide the relevant documents when completing your application that proves how you meet the eligibility criteria for the Skilled Worker route.

If you have dependents (spouse or children), you should apply for your own visa first. Following this, your partner and dependents can apply separately.

Required documents

In order to apply for this visa, you will likely be required to submit evidence of the following:

  • Certificate of Sponsorship unique reference number
  • Proof of English language level
  • Valid passport or travel document with a blank page for your stamp (front and back)
  • Title of your job, annual salary, and the occupation code
  • Name of employer and their Sponsor Licence number
  • Evidence of savings or finances to support yourself (e.g., bank statements)
  • Proof of your relationship with a partner or dependent children (where relevant)
  • Tuberculosis test results (where relevant)
  • Criminal record certificate (where relevant)
  • Record of residence in other countries (where relevant)

Depending on your individual circumstances, you may be asked for further information.

Fees and waiting time

Fees

There are a number of costs associated with the Skilled Worker route. These include the application fee, healthcare surcharge and evidence of your ability to support yourself.

The application fee is between £610 to £1,408 depending on your situation, £624 for the immigration healthcare surcharge, and show evidence of savings of at least £1,270.

If you are applying from outside the UK, you can switch or update your visa. The standard fee depends on whether intend to stay in the UK for up to three years (£704) or more than three years (£1,408).

As well as this, if your job is on the shortage occupation list, your application fee will be lower (£464 or £928 respectively).

Waiting time

In the majority of cases, you will receive a decision on your application within three weeks if you apply from outside the UK, or eight weeks if you apply inside the UK.

In some cases, you may be able to pay for a priority service in order to receive a faster decision on your application. When you make your application, you will be informed if this is an option for you.

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How to change employment on a Skilled Worker Visa

There is a process that you must follow if you wish to change employment after coming to the UK. This is because your visa was granted on the basis of holding a particular job.

You will need to apply to update your visa if the following applies:

  • You want to change your job (and employer)
  • If your job changes to a different occupation code, or if you leave a job on the shortage occupation list for a job that is not on the list

If you are still working with the same employer, but you have changed your role to a different occupation code, you also need to update your visa.

Eligibility

Your new job must meet the eligibility criteria and a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) will be required to prove this.

If you take on a second job and you are working for more than 20 hours per week, or it is in a different occupation code, you must update your visa. Any second job will need to meet eligibility requirements and you will be issued a new CoS.

Documents

If you are applying to change your employment or update your conditions of work, there are a number of documents required. Depending on what type of passport or travel document you have, you must confirm your identity by providing your biometric information (fingerprints and a facial photograph) at a visa application centre or using a smartphone app to scan your identity document.

Certificate of Sponsorship

The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is one of the most important documents needed as part of the Skilled Worker route. Read our complete guide on the Certificate of Sponsorship.

Your sponsor (normally your employer) will issue you with a CoS when a formal job offer has been made to you and accepted. Your employer must hold a valid sponsor licence in order to issue the CoS.

You will be provided with a defined or undefined CoS.

Undefined Certificate of Sponsorship

An undefined CoS is issued for those already in the UK and who are eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa.

Defined Certificate of Sponsorship

A defined CoS is issued to applicants who apply for their Skilled Worker Visa from overseas.

When issued, this type of CoS lasts for only three months and it is necessary to use it to apply for the visa within that time.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to switch to the Skilled Worker Visa. The requirements are as follows:

  • You must be on a valid existing visa or have leave to enter which allows you to switch categories
  • You must score at least 50 points from mandatory non-tradeable points
  • You must score at least 20 points from tradeable points
  • You must have evidence of maintenance funds
  • You must meet the general eligibility criteria for switching your visa

You must score at least 70 points under the new UK points-based immigration system to be eligible for the visa.

Some of these points are mandatory, while others are tradeable.

Mandatory points: Having a job offer from an approved sponsor counts as 20 points, if the job is at the appropriate skill level, this is another 20 points, while having the required level of English language skills will earn 10 points.

Tradeable points: There are three categories of tradeable points based on the salary of the role. The higher the salary, the more points that you can earn. If you are applying for a job on the shortage occupation list, this is another 20 points, and education qualifications at PhD level will also result in further points.

Like most visa categories, there are restrictions on the activities of Skilled Worker Visa holders to ensure that they abide by immigration rules. These include:

  • You cannot access state benefits or other public funds
  • It may be necessary to register your stay with the police if you are from a certain country
  • You can only complete work as outlined in your Certificate of Sponsorship, otherwise, you must apply to update your visa and be issued a new CoS

In order to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), you will need to prepare evidence that shows you have been resident in the UK for at least five years. Eligible candidates may be able to apply for ILR if they meet all the requirements of the scheme.

After holding indefinite leave to remain for 12 months, you may be able to apply for British citizenship.