- Who can apply for a Skilled Worker Visa?
- What are the Skilled Worker Visa eligible jobs?
- Salary threshold requirements
- English language requirements
- Financial requirements
- How to apply for the Skilled Worker Visa
- Required documents
- Fees and waiting time
- How to change employment on a Skilled Worker Visa
- Certificate of Sponsorship
- Skilled Worker visa extension
- Skilled Worker visa extension requirements
- Frequently asked questions
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 is the new skilled worker visa that replaces 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.
Swiss and EEA nationals who settled in the UK before the 1st January 2021 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, every skilled worker visa applicant 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 UK Skilled Worker Visa application, 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.
Who can apply for the Skilled Worker visa route?
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 minimum 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 skilled worker visa requirements 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 the skilled worker visa route, an applicant must receive a formal job offer from an approved UK 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.
Skilled worker visa applicants applying for a role on the shortage occupation list can be paid 80% of the going rate and will still be eligible to apply for Skilled Worker Visas.
The shortage occupation list can be viewed at the Gov.uk website.
Salary threshold Skilled Worker visa requirements
The general salary threshold requirements must be met in order to meet the requirements of the skilled worker visa application.
In order to apply for the Skilled Worker visa route, it must be proven that the salary for the role equals or exceeds a minimum 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 for a skilled worker visa.
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 for the Skilled Worker visa Application
In order to be granted a Skilled Worker Visa, you should show that you have an English language 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
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 UK Skilled Worker visa.
If you have been told by your future UK 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.
If you need support from Newcastle Immigration Lawyers with your UK Skilled Worker Visa application, 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 assistance.
In order to apply for the UK Skilled Worker 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.
We can advise you on the documents to provide and assist you with applying for the Skilled Worker route. For immediate support or advice, you can get in touch with our immigration lawyers on 0191 303 8965 or use the contact form to speak to one of our advisers.
Fees and waiting time
Skilled Worker Visa cost
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).
Skilled worker visa applications have different expected waiting times mostly based on where the application was made from. In the majority of cases, skilled workers receive a decision on their application within three weeks if they apply from outside the UK or eight weeks if they apply from 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 for a Skilled Worker visa UK. When you make your application, you will be informed if this is an option for you.
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 with the Skilled Worker route. 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.
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.
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.
For immediate support or advice, you can get in touch with our immigration lawyers on 0191 303 8965 or use the contact form to speak to one of our advisers.
Certificate of Sponsorship
The Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is one of the most important documents needed as part of the Skilled Worker application. 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.
How to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa extension
Every skilled worker visa expires after the approved number of years. The time a skilled worker visa holder gets depends on their circumstances.
Skilled workers can apply for a Skilled Worker visa extension if their visa is due to expire soon. To do so, they must submit a renewal application by filling out the application form on the gov.uk website from within the UK, and before their current Skilled Worker visa expires.
When applying, you will be asked to prove your identity and submit supporting documentation to prove you still meet the requirements for the Skilled Worker route. You can prove your identity by giving your biometrics at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point or through the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app.
If you have dependents on your visa, they can extend their visa; they need to apply separately to extend their stay.
Skilled worker visa extension requirements
To qualify for the renewal or extension of your Skilled Worker permit, your UK employer must have agreed to extend your contract. This employer must be the same as the one that issued the initial Certificate of Sponsorship with which you obtained your current Skilled Worker visa, and they must still be a Home Office approved sponsor.
Also, you must have the same job that you used to obtain your entry clearance into the UK. The job must also be in the same occupation code as when you entered the UK – only a few jobs are exempt from this. Contact an immigration lawyer to seek legal advice.
Furthermore, you must still qualify for a skilled worker visa. You will be required to submit supporting documents to prove you still meet the minimum salary requirement and that your English language ability and finances still meet the requirements.
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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.
We have looked at the process for applying for a Skilled Worker visa extension above. After applying, expect a decision from the Home Office within eight (8) weeks. If you fall in any of the below, your processing time may be longer:
- Your supporting documents need to be verified
- You need to attend an interview
- There’s an issue with your circumstances, such as having a criminal conviction.
It is crucial that you apply for an extension weeks ahead of your visa expiry date. If you apply close to the expiry date or need a faster decision, you may be able to use the Home Office’s priority service or Super Priority Service. The priority service costs £500, and you will get your decision within 5 working days, while the Super Priority Service costs £800, and you will get a decision within one or two working days.