What is the Skilled Worker Visa?
The Skilled Worker Visa recently replaced the Tier 2 General Visa as part of the UK’s new points-based immigration system. Freedom of movement between the UK and EU officially ended on 31 December 2020. As of 1 January 2021, both EU and Non-EEA citizens must apply for a visa if they intend to work in the UK.
The new Skilled Worker route is now the most common UK work visa for overseas nationals. This visa allows immigrants with a job offer at the minimum skill level to live and work in the UK for up to 5 years. Applicants must also meet a number of other criteria, such as the relevant salary requirements. The Skilled Worker visa can also be extended or used as a route to Indefinite Leave to Remain. The application process for the Skilled Worker Visa is similar to the previous Tier 2 General Visa, however, there are some changes to the requirements that you need to meet.
How can I apply for the Skilled Worker Visa?
You must apply for a Skilled Worker Visa online and you can do so using the form available on the gov.uk website. You can apply from both inside and outside the UK. There are several steps that you will need to make When applying for a Skilled Worker Visa.
Firstly, you must complete the online form, which must be completed in English, and pay the application fee. It currently costs between £610 to £1,408 to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa, the price will vary depending on your circumstances.
Next, you will need to submit your supporting documents. Your supporting documents are an incredibly important part of your application as they will prove that you can meet the requirements. Without adequate supporting documents, the Home Office may refuse your application.
Once you have filled in the online application form, you will need to book and attend an appointment at a visa application centre near you to prove your identity and have your biometric information taken, this is your photo and fingerprints.
Finally, you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, this will give you access to the UK’s healthcare system. The fee is usually £624 per year but can vary depending on your circumstances.
You can apply for the Skilled Worker Visa up to 3 months before you intend to start working in the UK. If you are switching from another UK visa to the Skilled Worker Visa, then you should apply before your current visa expires.
You may be able to bring family members with you to the UK under the Skilled Worker route. If you do wish to bring family members, then they must make a separate visa application to join you in the UK as a dependent.
How can I score the required points for a Skilled Worker Visa?
To be eligible to apply for the Skilled Worker Visa, you must be able to score 70 points under the points-based immigration system. There are several requirements that you will need to meet in order to do this, the mandatory requirements include:
- Having a job offer from a UK Home Office approved sponsor company and holding a Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer (20 points)
- Having a job that is on the list of eligible occupations and at the appropriate skill level (20)
- Being able to speak English at the required level (10 points)
You can score the remaining 20 points in several ways. Usually, applicants will need to meet the minimum salary threshold. The general salary threshold is usually £25,600 or the specific salary requirement for your profession, known as the going rate. If you meet this requirement you will score the final 20 points needed.
However, you can also trade characteristics, such as your qualifications, against a lower salary. For example, you can score 10 points by meeting a lower minimum salary threshold of £23,040 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession, and another 10 points for having a PhD in a subject relevant to your job.
You can also score a further 20 points by either having a job offer for a role that is on the Shortage Occupation List or having a PhD in a STEM subject related to your job. It’s worth noting that even though these options provide you with the points needed, your salary must be a minimum of £20,480 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession.
If you are a new entrant to the UK labour market then you can meet the salary requirements by having a salary of at least £20,480 or 70% going rate for your role. A new entrant is someone who is at the start of their career.
How do I meet the minimum skill requirement for the Skilled Worker Visa?
You will only be granted a Skilled Worker Visa if the role that you will be doing is approved by the Home Office as a job of the appropriate skill level. The Home Office has a list of occupations that they deem as high skilled. You can find out whether your role fits these criteria by looking up your occupation code on the list, you can get your occupation code from your sponsor employer. Just a few of the roles included on the skilled occupations list include:
- Chief executive
- Marketing director
- Biomedical scientist
- Building engineer
You may be able to apply for the Skilled Worker Visa if you have a lower-skilled job offer, but only if the role is on the Shortage Occupation List. The Shortage Occupation List is a compilation of the roles within the UK labour market in which there is a shortage of labour. It includes occupations such as musicians, architects and chefs.
How long does the Skilled Worker Visa application process take?
You can apply for the Skilled Worker Visa up to 3 months before you are due to start work in the UK. Once you have gone through the entire application process, which includes filling in the application form, paying your fees and proving your identity, you will need to wait for a decision from the Home Office.
The time it will take for you to receive your decision on your visa application will depend on where you have applied from. If you have applied from inside the UK, then you can expect to wait up to 8 weeks to hear back from the Home Office. If you have applied from outside the UK, you will usually get a decision within 3 weeks. You could face delays in the application process if you make a mistake in the application, or fail to submit enough supporting evidence. The Home Office will get in touch with you if they need any further information from you.
Can your lawyers help me to apply for the Skilled Worker route?
Our lawyers can help you to apply for your UK work visa and can be there to provide you with guidance throughout the entire application process. Applying for a Skilled Worker Visa can be a very complicated process due to the complex requirements that you must meet. This is why it is recommended that you seek the assistance of an immigration lawyer to give your visa application the highest chance of success.
If you choose to hire one of our lawyers to assist you with your application, they will discuss your circumstances with you and assess your eligibility. The requirements for the Skilled Worker route are very complex, but your lawyer can explain each of the requirements that you will need to meet to you and can help you to meet them. They can also answer any questions that you may have about applying.
Following this, they can assist you with filling in your application form. Our lawyers can also help you to gather all the relevant supporting documents that you will need to apply and can even communicate with the Home Office on your behalf to keep track of your visa application.
If you want to apply for a visa for work in the UK, then get in touch with our professional immigration lawyers today on 0333 305 9375.
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