- What is a skilled worker visa?
- Skilled Worker visa requirements
- UK Skilled Worker Job Eligibility Criteria
- English language requirement
- Financial requirements
- How much is a Skilled Worker Visa?
- Applying For The UK Skilled Worker Visa With Your Family
- How to apply for a Skilled Worker visa
- How long does a skilled worker visa application take?
- How to extend your Skilled Worker visa
- If you hold a Tier 2 Visa
- Switching To The UK Skilled Worker Visa From Other Visas
- Skilled Worker Visa refusal
- What Employers Need To Do In Order To Hire Skilled Workers
- How Can IAS Help With The UK Skilled Worker Visa
- Frequently asked questions
What is a Skilled Worker Visa?
The Skilled Worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. This permit allows eligible applicants to stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved sponsor/employer.
If you or your close family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, and you started living in the UK before 1st January 2021, you can apply for the free EU Settlement Scheme. This means that you would not need to get a visa to work in the UK. Irish citizens do not need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme or a visa.
If you are a skilled worker and you want to enter the UK to do a specialized job, you can seek the help of IAS immigration lawyers. Call us on 0333 305 3750 to speak with our team.
Skilled Worker Visa Requirements
To qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, you need to be sponsored by a UK-based employer. Besides, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You must be aged 18 or over
- You need a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for the job you are going to do
- Your job is a genuine vacancy
- Your role is at an appropriate level
- You will be paid a salary which equals or exceeds the general salary threshold and the “going rate” for your occupation
- Your sponsor has paid the required Immigration Skills Charge
- You can demonstrate your English proficiency (at least CEFR Level B1)
- You can financially sustain yourself and your family without relying on public funds
- You can provide a criminal record certificate
- You can provide a valid TB certificate (if needed)
- You must fulfil the specific genuineness requirement, therefore you must show you will only undertake your proposed role and will not engage in any additional employment while in the UK.
You will need to provide the following:
- Certificate of Sponsorship reference number
- Proof of knowledge of English
- Valid passport
- Document that shows your job title and annual salary, such as a contract
- Job’s occupation code
- a copy of your certificate of sponsorship
As a Skilled Worker visa applicant, you must also provide the following documents:
- Proof you meet the financial requirements
- Proof of your relationship with your dependents if they are coming with you
- Tuberculosis test results, if required
- Criminal record certificate, if required
- Valid ATAS certificate if your job involves researching a sensitive subject at PhD level or higher and you need one
Requirement for sponsorship
- The employer (sponsor) needs a valid sponsorship license with an A rating.
- The sponsor must have paid the Immigration Skills Charge.
- The Home Office checks if the job vacancy and employment are genuine, ensuring there’s a real need for the position.
- The worker must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship assigned by the employer for the specific job role they’re being hired for.
Requirement for a Certificate of Sponsorship
Before applying for a UK visa, the sponsoring UK employer must provide the worker with a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to ensure they meet sponsorship requirements. This unique reference number is essential for the Skilled Worker visa application and can only be issued by licensed sponsors.
There are two types of CoS: defined and undefined, replacing the previous restricted and unrestricted CoS. Undefined CoS are for those already in the UK switching immigration routes or applying from within the UK or abroad. Defined CoS are for skilled worker visa applicants from outside the UK.
Sponsors must apply for defined CoS, specifying job and salary details. UKVI allocates undefined CoS to sponsors annually, based on factors like workforce size. Unused CoS are removed yearly, and sponsors can apply for more if needed.
UK Skilled Worker Job Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa, you should receive a job offer from a UK employer which must meet all the following requirements:
- The job must be eligible for the visa, under the new Skilled Worker Visa route, your role must be skilled to at least RQF level 3 (roughly equivalent to A-levels).
- You must be paid the minimum salary or “going rate” for the type of work you will be doing. The minimum salary is at least £25,600 per year.
- Your employer must have been approved by the Home Office and hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship
- You must hold an occupation code. If you have already received a job offer, you must ask your employer for your code.
Also, you must be able to prove that you are being sponsored by the employer to undertake a vacancy that is genuine. If the Home Office believes the job is only created so you can apply for the Skilled Worker visa or it is a sham, your application will be refused.
English language requirement
To qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, you must demonstrate your English proficiency. This must be at least at level B1 (intermediate). To satisfy this requirement, you can either:
- Be a national of a majority English-speaking country
- Have passed a Secure English Language Test
- Have obtained a GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK
- Have been awarded a degree taught in English
- Have already met this requirement as a part of any previous application for entry clearance
The general salary threshold under the Skilled Worker Visa route is £25,600 a year. This means that your salary must equal or exceed this number and 100% of the going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher. The assessment will be based on guaranteed basic gross pay.
Workers falling into specific categories might be paid less than the above amount, provided that they score additional “tradable point” for other attributes, such as:
- Holding a PhD qualification which is relevant to the job or in a relevant STEM subject
- Accepting an offer for a job in the shortage occupation list
- Applicants who are new entrants to the labour market
- Applications for job listed as health or education occupations
As well as meeting the minimum salary threshold, you will also need to meet other financial requirements. You must have cash funds of at least £1,270 available to sustain yourself while in the UK. This money must be held in your bank account for at least 28 consecutive days prior to your application.
How much is a Skilled Worker Visa?
The Skilled Worker visa application fees range from £625 to £1,423, depending on your circumstances.
When applying for your visa, you also need to take the following expenses into account:
- Healthcare surcharge – £624 per year
- You must have at least £1,270 available to demonstrate that you can support yourself when you arrive in the UK. You might be exempt if you have already been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months, or if the employer can cover your costs during your first month in the UK.
Applying from outside the UK:
- Up to 3 years: £610 for each applicant
- Over 3 years: £1,220 for each applicant
Applying from within the UK (switching, updating, or extending):
- Up to 3 years: £704 for each applicant
- Over 3 years: £1,408 for each applicant
Shortage occupation roles:
- Up to 3 years: £464 for each applicant
- Over 3 years: £928 for each applicant
Applying For The UK Skilled Worker Visa With Your Family
Your partner and children can apply to join you as your dependants in the UK provided that they are eligible. You can include the following members of your family in your application:
- Your husband or wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner
- Your children under 18
- Your children over 18 if they are already staying in the UK as your dependants and are not married.
When submitting your application, you must provide evidence of your relationship.
How to apply for a Skilled Worker visa
The application process for a Skilled Worker visa is done online.
After filling out your application, you must prove your identity. You can either provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) at a visa application centre or scan your identity document using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app.
You will also have to pay the application fees and submit the documents.
The above process can only be taken if you are outside the UK. If you are within the UK, you will have to apply to switch to a Skilled Worker visa from the visa you currently use to stay in the UK. Note that if you are on any of the visas below, you cannot switch:
- Visitor visa
- Short-term student visa
- Parent of a Child Student visa
- Seasonal worker visa
- Domestic worker in a private household visa
- Immigration bail
- Permission to stay outside the immigration rules
If you are on any of the above visas, you will have to leave the UK first and apply from outside the UK.
How long does a skilled worker visa application take?
You can submit your UK visa application up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date can be found in your certificate of sponsorship.
Depending on your circumstances, the Home Office may need extra time to review your documents and prove your identity. For this reason, you should always allow extra time and submit your application in time.
It usually takes about 3 weeks to receive a decision from the Home Office if you are outside the UK. If you are already living in this country, you may need to wait up to 8 weeks.
How to extend your Skilled Worker visa
Your Skilled Worker visa is due to expire after a certain number of years, depending on your circumstances. You can apply to extend your permit if you meet the following requirements:
- You have the same job as when you were first granted your visa
- Your job is in the same occupation code as when you were given permission to enter the UK
- You are still working for the same employer who sponsored your current application.
Your family can apply for a visa extension, but they will need to submit a separate application.
If you hold a Tier 2 Visa
If you got CoS before 24th November 2016
If you have already applied to extend your visa before 24 May 2023, your minimum salary requirement is fixed at a lower rate. This means that you need to be paid at least £20,800 per year.
If you got your CoS on or after 24th November 2016
If you apply to extend your visa before 1st December 2026, you need to meet the new salary requirements. Your salary may also include allowances, if they are guaranteed for the length of your stay.
Switching To The UK Skilled Worker Visa From Other Visas
Switching to the UK Skilled Worker Visa from other visas is possible for individuals who meet the eligibility criteria. Here are the general steps and requirements:
- Check Eligibility: Make sure you have a visa that allows switching to a Skilled Worker Visa, such as certain work and student visas.
- Secure a Job Offer: Get a job offer from a UK employer with a Skilled Worker sponsorship license, meeting skill and salary requirements.
- Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): Your employer provides you with a CoS, a unique reference number necessary for your application.
- English Proficiency: Meet English language requirements, either through a test or recognised qualification.
- Funds: Have enough money to support yourself, unless your employer commits to covering your expenses in the CoS.
- Apply Online: Use your CoS reference to apply online, including filling forms and providing documents.
- Biometrics: Attend a biometrics appointment for fingerprints and a photo.
- Healthcare Surcharge: Pay the healthcare surcharge for access to the National Health Service (NHS).
- Wait for Decision: Wait for a decision from the Home Office, checking processing times on their website.
- Collect BRP: If approved, collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to confirm your immigration status and entitlements in the UK.
Skilled Worker Visa refusal
There are a number of reasons why your Skilled Worker Visa application may be refused. Some of the most likely reasons include:
- Not fully completing the application form
- Not fully paying the application fee or other associated costs
- Not including an accurate certificate of sponsorship reference number or job code
- Not submitting the appropriate, relevant supporting documents to accompany your application demonstrating your eligibility
- Not meeting the 70 points requirements on the points-based system
- Not having a clean immigration and criminal history
Alternatively, you may experience a Skilled Worker refusal if your employer does not have the correct sponsor licence and necessary documentation.
What can you do if your Skilled Worker Visa is refused?
If your Skilled Worker Visa application is refused, you have a number of options available, depending on your circumstances. The most common option is administrative review.
Applications may be refused in the following situations:
- Initial application for the Skilled Worker Visa
- Switching to the Skilled Worker Visa
- Renewing or extending the visa
If you receive a notice of refusal on your application, you have a limited period of time to apply for an administrative review of the decision. You have 28 days to file the request if you applied outside the UK, or alternatively, 14 days if you applied inside the UK.
The Home Office (UKVI) will respond to your request within 28 days with a decision. If you are unsatisfied with the outcome of this decision, you may have the option to file a pre-action protocol for judicial review. You may be eligible to submit a request for a judicial review if you are unsatisfied with this decision.
If your Skilled Worker Visa is refused, we recommend speaking to an experienced immigration lawyer as soon as possible to explore the available options. We can assist you with submitting the form for administrative review, preparing the case grounds, and representing you until the matter is resolved.
What Employers Need To Do In Order To Hire Skilled Workers
Employers can secure Skilled Worker sponsorship to hire foreign skilled workers. Employers must apply for a Skilled Worker sponsorship license through an approved online system. Once granted, you can provide a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to eligible workers. Additionally, you must fulfil various sponsorship responsibilities as part of the process.
When seeking a skilled worker sponsor license, you must demonstrate to the Home Office that your organisation satisfies specific eligibility requirements, including:
- Proof that you are a legitimate company eligible to provide a sponsor license.
- Proof that you can provide a legitimate job role that will pay the skilled worker
- Proof that you will adhere to the sponsor license requirements, and keep records, monitor your workers and report to the Home Office if any of your skilled workers do not meet the requirements
- Be compliant with the Home Office’s background checks and routine check ups
How Can IAS Help With The UK Skilled Worker Visa
Applying for a Skilled Worker Visa as an individual or hiring skilled workers as an employer can be a complex process, especially when addressing the authenticity requirements for your business.
It involves several document submissions that can be time-consuming as you navigate through the steps.
If you need assistance with your Skilled Worker Visa application and have questions about the process or authorization requirements, the Immigration Advice Service (IAS) is here to help.
Our skilled worker visa lawyers comprises experienced immigration lawyers with extensive knowledge of UK immigration law.
We have successfully assisted numerous individuals in overcoming immigration challenges to settle in the UK, and we can provide the same level of support to you.
Whether you seek expert guidance on demonstrating your financial status or ensuring your health insurance meets the criteria, need clarification on the differences between the sponsor licence and CoS, we can assist you.
We can also help you assemble the necessary supporting documents and provide guidance if your UK sponsor licence application is rejected.
For comprehensive information about the Skilled Worker Visa for hiring overseas skilled workers, including eligibility criteria, application procedures, and expert advice tailored to your situation, please contact us today at 0333 305 9375 or reach out to us online.
Last modified on October 23rd, 2023 at 9:43 am
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As a Skilled Worker visa holder, you can:
- Work and study in the UK
- Bring your family (your partner and your children) if they are eligible for a dependant visa
- Do voluntary work or take on additional work (in certain circumstances)
- Apply to settle in the UK after 5 years of lawful residence in this country.
What you cannot do:
- Change job or employer, unless you submit an updated visa application
- Apply for public funds, benefits, or the State Pension
You need to be paid at least £25,600 per year, unless the “going rate” for your job is higher. Depending on your occupation code, your role might have an annual going rate, which you and your employer can check online.
Different salary rules apply for those working in healthcare or education jobs.
The Skilled Worker Visa only grants you permission to work for the employer that originally sponsored your application in the role that you were sponsored for.
If you wish to work for a new employer or if you want to switch to a job of a different occupation code with the same employer you will need to apply to update your Skilled Worker Visa.
You must also apply to update your visa if you move from a job that was on the Shortage Occupation List to one that is not on the Shortage Occupation List.
If you stay in the same job, but this role is taken off the Shortage Occupation List, you do not need to update your Skilled Worker Visa.
A certificate of sponsorship is a document that an employer in the UK uses to sponsor a skilled foreign worker to work in the UK. The certificate confirms that the skilled worker and role meet the sponsorship eligibility requirements.
An employer can only issue a COS if they have been registered with the Home Office as a sponsor with a valid sponsorship licence to employ foreigners.
An employer can either provide a defined Certificate of Sponsorship or an undefined Certificate of Sponsorship. Both are for two different types of workers.
A defined CoS is for out-of-country workers applying for a visa outside the UK. There is no limit on the number of defined CoS that an employer can issue, and they are valid for 3 months.
An undefined CoS is for in-country workers switching to a skilled worker visa from another type of visa. An employer can only issue one if they have received an allocation that covers the undefined CoS they wish to give.
The main difference between the two types of COS is that with a defined certificate, you (the employee) will need to have a job offer before you can apply for the visa. With an undefined certificate, you (the employee) can apply for the visa without having a job offer, as long as you meet the other requirements.
Yes, you can take on additional or secondary employment, but there are restrictions:
- You must work for the same employer as your primary job.
- The additional work must be in the same occupation code as your primary job or a closely related one.
- You cannot engage in self-employment or be a sole trader in the secondary job.
If you take on additional work, you must report this to your primary employer and ensure they are aware of it. They might need to update your CoS to reflect the changes. You must also continue to meet the minimum salary and working hour requirements for your primary job as specified in your Certificate of Sponsorship. Your secondary job should not interfere with meeting these requirements.