Skilled Worker Visa UK

The UK Skilled Worker Visa offers an opportunity for individuals from outside the UK to work in various skilled roles with an approved employer. This visa route is essential for those aiming to contribute their expertise to the UK’s diverse job market.

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    What Is The UK Skilled Worker Visa?

    The UK Skilled Worker Visa is a key component of the UK’s immigration system, enabling individuals from various countries to work in the UK in eligible skilled roles with an approved employer. This visa has evolved from the earlier Tier 2 (General) work visa and is a pathway to semi-permanent residency, potentially leading to Indefinite Leave to Remain and, ultimately, British citizenship.

    Key Statistics and Data on Issuance

    • In 2023, the UK reported a remarkable 95% approval rate for 508,821 applications within the “Worker” category, which saw a 97% acceptance rate.
    • The year 2022 witnessed the approval of 166,408 long-term sponsored work visas to main applicants, marking a significant 161% increase from 2019.

    Benefits and Advantages

    • This visa permits work in the UK for an approved employer, including in UK territories.
    • The visa can last up to 5 years before requiring an extension.
    • After 5 years, visa holders may apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residency), granting the right to live, work, and study in the UK indefinitely​​.
    • Visa holders can bring dependents, and spouses are allowed to work in the UK​​.
    • Permanent residents receive free healthcare.
    • There is no limit on the number of people who can move to the UK on this visa.

    Recent Changes or Updates

    • Addition of new roles to the Shortage Occupation List, acknowledging the evolving demand in the UK labour market.
    • Revised regulations restricting the switch from a student visa to a Skilled Worker visa before the completion of the course.
    • Reduced salary requirements and application fees for roles listed in the shortage occupation categories, facilitating easier access for skilled individuals in these sectors.
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    UK Skilled Worker Visa Eligibility For Employers & Employees

    The UK Skilled Worker Visa specifies a detailed set of eligibility requirements for both employers and employees, ensuring a streamlined and efficient immigration process.

    Basic Eligibility Requirements

    For Employers

    1. Employers must obtain a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence to hire employees from outside the UK. This involves proving their ability to comply with sponsorship duties and responsibilities.
    2. Employers must ensure that the job offered is genuine and necessitates skills and qualifications that meet the visa requirements.
    3. Employers are required to keep detailed records and report certain activities to the Home Office.

    For Employees

    1. The job must be on the list of eligible occupations, and the employer must be approved by the Home Office, holding a valid Tier 2 Sponsor Licence from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
    2. Employees must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) number from their employer, which serves as a confirmation of the job offer and details about the employment.
    3. The applicant must receive a minimum salary of at least €45,283 per year or the specific salary requirement for the job.
    4. The skill level for the applicant’s job must be at least equivalent to RQF level 3.
    5. Applicants are required to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in English.

    Criteria for Applicants

    Applicants need to score a minimum of 70 points to qualify for the visa. Points are awarded for:

    1. Having a job offer from a licenced UK employer in a skilled job.
    2. Demonstrating proficiency in the English language.
    3. Earning at least €45,283 per year or the ‘going rate’ for the specific job type.
    4. Meeting the skill level requirement of at least RQF level 3.
    5. Having a job offer from an employer with a valid sponsorship licence.

    Application Timeline

    The processing time for the Skilled Worker visa typically takes up to three weeks after the applicant’s appointment. Applications can be submitted up to three months before the employment start date in the UK.

    The Shortage Occupation List


    The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is an integral part of the UK’s immigration policy, specifically under the Skilled Worker Visa category. This list identifies occupations where the demand for skilled workers exceeds the supply within the domestic labour market.

    This list is periodically reviewed and updated to reflect the changing needs of the UK economy. Occupations on this list are given priority and often have relaxed eligibility criteria, such as lower salary thresholds for visa applications. Below is an overview of key sectors and occupations included on the Shortage Occupation List:

    Healthcare Sector

    Certain specialities of doctors and medical practitioners are in high demand:

    1. Nurses, with a particular focus on critical care, emergency medicine, and geriatrics.
    2. Medical Radiographers, especially those skilled in diagnostic radiography.
    3. Paramedics, owing to a steady demand throughout the country.

    Engineering and Technology

    1. Civil Engineers, particularly those involved in infrastructure and construction projects.
    2. Mechanical Engineers, mainly focusing on manufacturing and automotive industries.
    3. Electrical Engineers, predominantly in sectors like energy and utilities.
    4. IT Professionals, encompassing roles in cybersecurity, software development, and artificial intelligence.


    1. Secondary Education Teachers specialising in science, mathematics, and languages.
    2. Special Needs Education Teachers reflect the increasing emphasis on inclusive education.

    Arts and Entertainment

    1. Classical Ballet Dancers and Choreographers highlight the importance of the arts in culture.
    2. Graphic Designers, especially those with expertise in digital skills.

    Skilled Trades

    1. Chefs specialise in cuisines that are underrepresented in the UK.
    2. Welders, particularly those working in the industrial and construction sectors.

    Science and Research

    1. Research Scientists in biotechnology, physical sciences, and select engineering fields.
    2. Laboratory Technicians aiding research and development in diverse sectors.


    1. Social Workers, particularly focused on child and family services.
    2. Veterinarians, addressing the shortage in animal healthcare services.

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      Application Requirements (For Employers & Employees)


      The application requirements for the UK Skilled Worker Visa involve a set of specific criteria that both employers and employees must fulfil. These requirements ensure that only qualified and eligible individuals are sponsored to work in the UK.

      Employer Requirements (Sponsor Licence)

      • UK employers looking to hire foreign skilled workers must first apply for a sponsorship licence. This involves proving the legitimacy of the organisation and its need to recruit overseas workers.
      • Employers must demonstrate that they are genuine organisations operating lawfully in the UK, offering genuine vacancies that meet the visa skill level and appropriate rates of pay. The application typically requires at least four supporting documents to verify the organisation, although requirements can vary depending on the nature of the organisation and the vacancies being filled.
      • Employers need to have adequate HR systems in place to meet ongoing sponsorship duties and obligations, including monitoring employees’ immigration status and maintaining their employment records.
      • An additional charge, known as the immigration skills charge, may be required when assigning a certificate of sponsorship for certain visas. Exemptions to this charge apply based on specific occupation codes and other criteria.

      Employee Documentation and Skill Proofs

      • Employees must have a valid certificate of sponsorship from their employer, which includes details such as the job title, annual salary, and occupation code.
      • Applicants are required to provide evidence of their English language proficiency.
      • A passport or other identity document is necessary for the application.
      • Employees might need to provide evidence of personal savings to support themselves in the UK unless their employer covers their initial expenses.
      • Depending on the job and country of origin, applicants may need to provide additional documents such as a tuberculosis test result, a criminal record certificate, and an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate for certain research roles.
      • For jobs requiring specific qualifications, employees may need to provide their UK PhD certificate or an Ecctis reference number if the qualification is from outside the UK.

      Application Fees

      Understanding the UK Skilled Worker Visa costs is crucial for applicants to budget appropriately and ensure compliance with the requirements.

      Costs and Fees for Employers

      Immigration Skills Charge

      Employers are generally required to pay an immigration skills charge when they assign a certificate of sponsorship. The charge is around €2110 for small or charitable sponsors.

      Sponsor Licence Application Fee

      For small businesses and charities, this fee is approximately €622. The fee varies depending on the size and type of organisation.

      Application Fees for Employees

      Standard Application Fee

      The standard application fee for the UK Skilled Worker Visa varies with the stay duration and job type. For up to 3 years, it ranges from approximately €833 to €958 per person. For stays over 3 years, the fee is about €1,740 per person. These fees adjust for different employment durations and job roles in the UK.

      Shortage Occupation List

      For jobs on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List, the Skilled Worker Visa application fees are lower. For visas up to 3 years, the fee is approximately €538. For durations exceeding 3 years, the fee is around €1,415. These reduced rates are designed to incentivise applications for roles in high demand for skilled workers in the UK.

      Dependent Fees

      When bringing dependents to the UK on a Skilled Worker visa, the fees vary based on the duration of the visa. For a stay of up to three years, the fee is approximately €538. For stays exceeding three years, the fee is around €1,075. Additionally, dependents are required to pay the annual Immigration Health Surcharge, which is €725 for adults and €545 for children, to access healthcare services in the UK.

      Priority Service

      For an additional €580, applicants can opt for the ‘priority service’, which aims to deliver a decision within 5 working days.

      Healthcare Surcharge

      Applicants are also required to pay the healthcare surcharge, which is about €1,211 per year. This surcharge grants access to the UK’s National Health Service.

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        Skilled Worker Visa Step-By-Step Application Process


        The UK Skilled Worker Visa application process is a multi-step journey that requires careful attention to detail and compliance with specific requirements. Both employers and employees have distinct roles in this process. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the steps involved:

        For Employers

        1. Employers must first apply for and obtain a valid Tier 2 Sponsor licence from the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). This involves proving the legitimacy of the organisation and its genuine need to recruit overseas workers.
        2. Once licenced, the employer can offer a job to a non-UK resident. For each job offer, the employer must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the employee, detailing the role and its compliance with visa requirements.
        3. Employers must ensure the role meets the skill level and salary requirements for the Skilled Worker route and stick to all sponsorship responsibilities.

        For Employees

        1. Applicants should first determine if they need a UK visa and identify the correct visa type based on their job offer.
        2. Complete the online application form on the UK government’s official website. This will include providing personal details and information about the job offer.
        3. Gather all required documents, including the Certificate of Sponsorship, proof of English language ability, a valid passport, and any additional documents relevant to the individual’s circumstances.
        4. Schedule and attend a visa appointment at a UK visa application centre. This typically includes an interview and the submission of biometric information.
        5. Applications made outside the UK are usually decided within 3 weeks. For applications inside the UK, the decision might take about 8 weeks. Priority services can expedite this process.
        6. After submission, applicants can check their visa application status through the VFS Global website.
        7. Upon arrival, employees must submit their biometric information if not already done.
        8. Collect the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from a designated Post Office within 10 days of arriving in the UK or before the visa sticker in the passport expires.

        Skilled Workers & Their Dependents


        The UK Skilled Worker Visa also allows for dependents to accompany or join the visa holder in the UK. This includes partners and children, and specific guidelines are in place to facilitate their stay. The process involves separate applications for each dependent and following various eligibility and financial requirements.

        Guidelines for Bringing Dependents

        Eligibility for Dependents

        • Must be over 18 and in a genuine and subsisting relationship with the Skilled Worker. They can be married, in a civil partnership, or have lived together for at least two years.
        • Must be under 18 years old or over 18 if they are currently in the UK as dependents. They should live with the Skilled Worker unless they are in full-time education and must be financially supported by them.

        Application Requirements

        • Each dependent must complete a separate application.
        • Proof of relationship, such as marriage or birth certificates, is required.
        • Financial requirements for dependents include having €330 for a partner, €365 for one child, and €232 for each additional child available for support.

        Visa Duration

        Dependents of Skilled Workers can apply for settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK after five years of continuous residence, allowing for permanent settlement.

        Employer’s Role in the Process

        While the employer’s primary role is sponsoring the Skilled Worker, they may assist in the application process by:

        • Helping the Skilled Worker understand the requirements for bringing dependents.
        • Offering help with acquiring necessary documentation such as the Certificate of Sponsorship.
        • In some cases, employers may offer financial support or guidance, especially if this is part of the employment package.

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          Extending UK Skilled Worker Visa

          Extending a UK Skilled Worker Visa involves a collaborative process between employers and employees, ensuring continuous compliance with the UK immigration rules.

          Process for Employees

          1. To be eligible for an extension, employees must be in the same job role as their previous permission and working for the same employer who assigned their current CoS.
          2. Employees can apply for a skilled worker visa extension up to 60 days before their current visa expires. The application process is conducted online, and applicants are required to provide their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) number.
          3. Employees need to provide documents, including their passport, current CoS, proof of ongoing employment, and potential evidence of meeting the English language requirement and maintenance funds.
          4. During the processing period, employees must not travel outside the UK. Processing times vary, but applicants can generally expect a decision within 8 weeks for applications made inside the UK.
          5. If employees have dependents in the UK on a dependent visa, these will not be automatically extended. Dependents must apply separately but can do so at the same time as the main applicant.
          6. After 5 years of the Skilled Worker Visa route, employees may be eligible to apply for an ILR, permitting them to remain in the UK without any time restrictions.

          Process for Employers

          1. For an employee to extend their visa, employers must issue a new CoS. This document should reflect the ongoing employment and confirm that the employee will be continuing in the same role or a role within the same occupation code.
          2. Employers must ensure their sponsor licence is valid and up to date. The continuation of sponsorship is vital for the employee’s visa extension.
          3. Employers should keep up-to-date records and continue to meet their sponsorship duties, including monitoring employees’ immigration status and employment conditions.

          Switching From Another UK Visa To Skilled Worker Visa

          Employers should be aware that the UK’s immigration system allows certain individuals already in the UK on different visas to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa. This opportunity is particularly relevant for businesses looking to hire skilled workers from within the UK, as it can streamline recruitment and leverage talent already in the country.

          Understanding the Possibility of Switching

          The possibility of switching to a Skilled Worker Visa is available to individuals who meet specific criteria set by the UK government. Employers must identify potential candidates eligible for this switch, as it can significantly impact their workforce planning and development strategies.

          Eligibility Criteria for Switching

          To apply for a switch to a Skilled Worker Visa, the following criteria must be met:

          1. The job individuals are switching to must meet the Skilled Worker visa requirements for your Skilled Worker visa application to be successful.
          2. Individuals must be able to speak, read, write, and understand English.
          3. Students on a student visa must have completed their course of study, with additional conditions for PhD students who must have been enrolled in the course for at least 24 months before switching.

          Who Cannot Switch

          Typically, individuals on visas such as Tier 4 Student Visa, Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, and other long-term visas are eligible to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa. However, those on short-term visas like visit visas, short-term student visas, and others are not eligible for this switch​​​​.

          Process of Switching for Employers

          Employers can facilitate the switching process by offering a valid job role and assisting with the application process. This includes ensuring that the job offer and sponsorship align with the Skilled Worker visa requirements and helping the employee with the necessary documentation and application procedures.

          Common Challenges and Solutions

          Employers may face challenges such as dealing with the complexities of the immigration rules and ensuring compliance. Staying informed about the latest immigration policies and seeking professional legal advice from Total Law can help you overcome these difficulties.

          UK Skilled Worker Visa Application Is Refused: Your Options

          If a UK Skilled Worker Visa application is refused, it’s crucial for both the employer and the employee to understand the common reasons for refusal and the next steps to take.

          Typical Reasons for Refusal

          1. If the job offer doesn’t meet the minimum salary requirement of at least €45,283 per year, the application may be rejected.
          2. Providing incorrect details or failing to supply adequate information can lead to visa refusal.
          3. The CoS can be rejected if it contains an error, is expired, or does not meet the minimum salary and skill level requirements.
          4. Failure to provide the required evidence of English language proficiency.
          5. Not disclosing criminal offences or past immigration issues, including previous visa refusals, may lead to refusal.
          6. Applicants must show they have sufficient funds unless the CoS covers it. Failure to meet this requirement can result in rejection.
          7. If the Home Office doubts the genuineness of the job role, the application might be refused.

          Next Steps for Applicants

          1. Review the Home Office’s refusal letter to understand why the Skilled Worker Visa was refused.
          2. Work with the potential employee to rectify any incorrect or insufficient information in the visa application.
          3. Consult with immigration specialists, such as Total Law, to clarify the reasons for refusal of the Skilled Worker Visa and determine the appropriate next steps.
          4. Decide whether to assist the employee in reapplying or appealing the decision based on the nature of the refusal and professional advice.
          5. Consider other suitable visa categories if reapplication or appeal for the Skilled Worker Visa is not feasible.
          6. Prepare for new applications with thorough compliance with UK immigration rules, ensuring accurate information and complete documentation.
          7. Maintain open communication with the potential employee, providing support and guidance throughout addressing the visa refusal.

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            Our Total Law Team Can Help You

            Total Law is a dedicated team of legal experts specialising in immigration law, ready to assist you in navigating the complexities of the UK Skilled Worker Visa process. Our Team provides services to businesses and employers seeking to employ skilled workers under the UK Skilled Worker Visa scheme. Whether you’re facing challenges with your application, need to apply for visa extensions, or have encountered a refusal, our experienced professionals are here to provide tailored support and advice.

            We understand the complexities of immigration regulations and are committed to helping you achieve a successful outcome. For expert legal assistance, you can reach Total Law at +44 (0)333 305 9375. Let our knowledgeable team guide you through every step of your immigration journey.

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