What is the Skilled Worker Visa route?
The Skilled Worker Visa, previously known as the Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa, is the most common type of UK work visa used by foreign nationals who wish to work in the UK.
The Skilled Worker Route is intended for foreign nationals who are able to fill skilled occupations in the UK as well as roles on the Shortage Occupation List. To be eligible you must have a job offer from an approved UK employer and you will need to score 70 points on the UK’s points-based immigration system.
The Skilled Worker Visa allows you to live and work in the UK for up to 5 years, it can also be used as a route to Indefinite Leave to Remain, you can be eligible for ILR after residing in the UK on a Skilled Worker Visa for 5 years.
Who is eligible?
Whilst popular, the Skilled Worker route has a strict set of requirements that foreign nationals must meet in order to be eligible, the main requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa include:
- Having a job offer for an eligible skilled occupation from a Home Office approved sponsor employer in the UK
- Holding a Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer
- Meeting the minimum salary threshold, this varies depending on the type of role you will be doing
- Being able to demonstrate your English language ability to at least the level of B1 as set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
- Proving that you have enough money to support yourself whilst in the UK
The Skilled Worker Visa eligibility requirements vary depending on the job that you will be doing whilst in the UK. For example, for some roles, you may need to provide a criminal record certificate to be eligible or your salary requirements may be different if you will be doing a job on the Shortage Occupation List.
The points-based immigration system
Applicants for the Skilled Worker category must score at least 70 points on the points-based system in order for their application to be successful. These points can be scored by meeting some mandatory requirements and some additional requirements.
The mandatory requirements include:
- Having a valid job offer from a UK sponsor licence company (20 points)
- Having a job at the appropriate skill level (20 points)
- Meeting the English language requirement (10 points)
You can score the remaining 20 points needed by meeting the minimum salary requirement. The general salary threshold is £25,600, or the going rate for your occupation, whichever is higher. However, if you cannot meet the minimum salary requirement then there are some tradeable criteria that you can score points for in replacement of this.
You can score tradeable points for the following:
- Having a PhD in a subject that is relevant to the job you will be doing – 10 points
- Having a PhD in a STEM subject that is relevant to your job – 20 points
- Having a job offer for a role on the Shortage Occupation List – 10 points
- An annual salary of at least £23,040 or 90% of the going rate for the occupation – 10 points
One of the main requirements for the Skilled Worker route is to have a job offer in the UK, however, only certain types of roles qualify for this visa. Your job must be at the appropriate skill level, this is RQF Level 3 and above and the job must also be in an eligible occupation code.
You can find out whether your job is eligible by looking up the occupation code. You can get your occupation code from your employer or you can find it using the ONS occupation coding tool.
You can view a list of all of the eligible occupation codes for the Skilled Worker route on the gov.uk website. There may not always be an occupation code for your exact job role, in this case, you should look at the most appropriate occupation code based on the duties you will have.
Your job must also meet the minimum salary requirements. Usually, you must earn at least either £25,600, £10.10 per hour or the going rate for your job, whichever is higher. Each occupation has its own going rate so your minimum salary may be higher depending on this. In some circumstances you can still be eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa if you earn less than £25,600 per year, this is outlined in the section above.
To meet the financial requirement for the Skilled Worker route you will need to prove that you have enough money to support yourself whilst in the UK. To do this you will need to show that you have at least £1,270 available.
You will need to show that this money has been available to you for at least 28 days in a row within 31 days of you applying for the visa.
You can be exempt from having to meet the financial requirement if you have already been in the UK on a valid visa for the last 12 months or if your employer agrees to cover your costs of up to £1,270 during your first month in the UK. You will need to show proof of this to be exempt.
If you are bringing any family members with you to the UK then there are additional financial requirements that you will need to meet for each relative.
How to make a Skilled Worker Visa application
You can submit a Skilled Worker Visa application online at the gov.uk website. You must apply from outside the UK unless you are applying to switch to the Skilled Worker route from another eligible visa whilst inside the UK. You can apply for the visa up to 3 months before the day that you are due to begin working in the UK.
As part of your application, you will need to prove your identity. You can do this by either scanning your identity documents on the UK Immigration: ID Check app or by attending an appointment to have your biometric information taken. Your biometric information is your fingerprints and photograph, if you cannot use the app then you must schedule an appointment at a local visa application centre to have this taken.
As well as completing the application form and proving your identity you will also need to submit a portfolio of supporting documents to prove that you meet the requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa route.
Once you have completed your application you can expect for it to be processed within 3 weeks if you applied from outside the UK or 8 weeks if you applied to switch to this visa from inside the UK. The processing time could be delayed if the Home Office requires you to provide any additional information.
A key part of your Skilled Worker Visa application is the portfolio of supporting documents that you submit alongside it. Your documents are used to prove your identity and to demonstrate that you meet the eligibility criteria for this visa, without the correct documents your application could be delayed or refused.
To have a successful application you will need to submit the following:
- A valid passport or another national identity document
- Your certificate of sponsorship reference number
- Proof of your English language ability, such as your Secure English Language Test (SELT) certificate
- Information about your job including the title, occupation code and salary
- Information about your UK employer including their name and sponsorship licence number
- Evidence that you can financially support yourself whilst in the UK such as bank statements
- Your Tuberculosis test results if you are from a country where this is required
- Your criminal record certificate (for certain jobs only)
If your documents are not in English or Welsh then you will need to have them officially translated before you submit them.
How can Total Law help?
Skilled Worker Visas come with many benefits but they can be difficult to obtain due to the number of requirements that you will need to prove you can meet. Our immigration lawyers are experienced when it comes to Skilled Worker Visa applications and they know exactly what it takes for a Skilled Worker Visa applicant to be successful.
Our lawyers can assess whether you are eligible for the Skilled Worker route and can be there to guide you throughout the application process. This includes filling in application forms on your behalf, helping you to gather your supporting documents, liaising with the Home Office on your behalf and answering any questions you may have about the Skilled Worker Visa.
For more information about how we can assist you with your application, get in touch with our team today on 0333 305 9375.
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No, you can only enter the UK once your visa is valid. When making your visa application you will be asked about your intended date of travel, Skilled Worker Visas can usually be valid for up to 14 days before you are due to commence work in the UK.
If your visa application is successful you will be given a Visa Vignette, this is a sticker added to your passport or travel document that states the type of visa you have been granted and the date it is valid from and to. You can use this to enter the UK but once you are here you must then collect your Biometric Residence Permit to use as proof of your leave to remain.
The application fee for the Skilled Worker route varies depending on the type of job you will be doing and how long you’ll be in the UK for.
It usually costs £610 to apply for a 3-year Skilled Worker Visa and £1,220 to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa valid for more than 3 years.
If your job is on the Shortage Occupation List then you will be a reduced application fee of £464 for a 3-year visa or £928 for a visa valid for over 3 years.
The application fees are higher for those who are applying to switch to the Skilled Worker route whilst already in the UK. In this case, the fee is up to £704 for up to 3 years and £1,408 for more than 3 years.
Your application fee will be reduced by £55 if you are a citizen of one of the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.
As well as the application fee you will need to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge, this costs £624 per year. If you are a health or care worker you may be exempt from this charge.
IELTS is a type of English language test that can be used to prove that you meet the English language requirements for a Skilled Worker Visa. As well as IELTS there are other approved test providers that you can use to take a SELT test, they include:
- Trinity College London
You do not necessarily need to pass a SELT test to meet the English language requirement. Foreign nationals from a majority English speaking country are exempt from needing to meet the requirement. You can also meet the requirement by:
- Having a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, gained through study at a UK school that you began when you were under 18
- Having a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English
The Skilled Worker Visa replaced the Tier 2 (General) Visa in January 2021 with the introduction of the UK’s new points-based immigration system. The Skilled Worker Visa is different to the Tier 2 (General) Visa in several ways:
- The general salary threshold has been lowered from £30,000 per year to £25,600 per year or the going rate for the role
- There is no longer a requirement for sponsors to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test, however, they will still need to prove that the vacancy is genuine and the applicant meets the skill and salary requirements
- EU and EEA skilled workers must now also apply for a visa to work in the UK unless they have been granted leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme.