Don’t let a visa hold you back from hiring the very best for your business!

Skilled Worker Visa

The UK ranks high in the ease of doing business index and its cities like London have long attracted businesses and works who wish to work in this international cultural melting pot – where the best minds meet to interact, add value, and grow their business or careers.

This is the visa category that was replaced the Tier 2 (General Work) visa. This visa also applies to EU nationals due to the change of rules brought about by Brexit.

So, in essence a Skilled Worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. This visa does not apply for people who already have a right of abode or a right to work in the UK.

This visa category is best understood from the perspective of whether you are a worker or if you are an employer or sponsor.

Do read the following information, with some extra focus on the sections applicable to you.

If you are a Worker:
Basic Criteria:

You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa.
Knowledge of English – you must be able to speak, read, write, and understand the language. Proof is usually required.
Prove your identity.

Financial Information:

You and your dependants would each have to: pay the application fee; pay the healthcare surcharge for each year of your stay; and prove you have enough personal savings. The application fee is usually £1,270.

Specific Eligibility Requirements:

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you must:

  • Work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • Have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • Do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • Be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work you do
  • Meet certain requirements that are specific to the type of role you are applying for, or a job offer you have in hand

Other Details:

You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible.

In certain cases, you may switch to this visa if you meet the requirements.

What you can and cannot do:

With a Skilled Worker visa, you can:

  • work in an eligible job;
  • study;
  • bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’ (eligibility criteria applies);
  • take on additional work in certain circumstances;
  • do voluntary work; travel abroad and return to the UK;
  • apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years and meet requirements

        You cannot:

  • apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension;
  • change jobs or employer unless you apply to update your visa

Duration & Application:

How long you can stay? Your visa can last for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You’ll need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer. You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like, if, you still meet the eligibility requirements.

After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’). This gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

How you apply depends on whether you’re: outside the UK and are coming to the UK; inside the UK and extending your current visa; inside the UK and switching from a different visa. Do note: if you want to change your job or employer, you must apply to update your visa.

How long it takes: You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.

Getting a decision: usually you will get a decision in 3 weeks if you’re outside the UK and 8 weeks if you’re inside the UK. If you need to go to an appointment, you may be able to pay for a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK.

If you are an Employer or Sponsor:

As an Employer or Sponsor of a Skilled Worker, you have certain responsibilities and duties, such as:

Applying for a Sponsorship Licence

Fulfilling the requirements of a Certificate of Sponsorship:

A skilled migrant worker must have a job offer from a UK employer with a Sponsorship Licence before they can apply for a skilled worker visa. A UK company recruiting a skilled overseas worker needs to allocate the successful overseas job applicant with a defined or undefined Certificate of Sponsorship or reference number. That’s then used by the skilled worker when applying to the Home Office for their skilled worker visa.

The need for the skilled worker job to be a genuine vacancy:

Is a requirement referred to in the Immigration Rules as a ‘genuine vacancy’. This means the vacancy must be a real job at the relevant skill level and salary for a skilled worker visa.

Ability to pay the skilled worker visa and the Immigration skills charge:

The charge is payable when the employer assigns the Certificate of Sponsorship to the proposed employee but is refundable if the employee fails to secure their visa.

The amount an employer pays for the Immigration skills charge depends on the size and nature of the company. Exemptions do apply.

Additional Information:
What is the skill level needed for a skilled worker visa?

There is a lot of confusion about the skill level required for a skilled worker visa. However, at a basic level to secure a skilled worker visa, a migrant must be employed in a job that is skilled to RQF level 3 or roughly equivalent to the UK A-level standard. Skill is a more important criteria, than qualifications.

What is the English language requirement for the skilled worker visa?

This is an essential criterion, and while it can change on a case to base basis, some automatic eligibility conditions do apply based on the applicant’s country of nationality or qualifications. Alternatively, the employee can sit an approved English language test as part of the skilled worker visa application process.

What is the salary threshold for a skilled worker visa?

The minimum salary threshold is set at £25,600 a year unless the potential employee can use what are referred to as tradeable points in the points-based Immigration system or the employee is a new entrant in which case the minimum salary threshold is £20,480. Having an expert for this portion of the criteria can be very helpful.

Does a job have to be on the shortage occupation list to secure a work visa?
While the vacancy you are filling need not be on this list. If it were on the list, it would be helpful in matters related to tradeable point and the minimum salary threshold.

Does a job have to be on the shortage occupation list to secure a work visa?

While the vacancy you are filling need not be on this list. If it were on the list, it would be helpful in matters related to tradeable point and the minimum salary threshold.

Does a job have to be on the shortage occupation list to secure a work visa?
While the vacancy you are filling need not be on this list. If it were on the list, it would be helpful in matters related to tradeable point and the minimum salary threshold.

Who is a new entrant to the labour market for a skilled worker visa?

An employee is a ‘new entrant’ if they are under 26 or studying or a recent graduate or in professional training. If a job candidate qualifies as a new entrant, the minimum salary threshold is reduced.

Financial Requirements?

The financial requirement for a skilled worker visa is the money an employee needs to prove they have before their arrival in the UK as evidence that they can support themselves. The figure set by the Home Office is currently £1,270.

What is the Criminal Record Certificate requirement?

An employee needs to provide a criminal record certificate when submitting their visa application if they’ve been offered sponsored Employment in specific sectors, such as healthcare or education.

Do employers need to complete a Resident Labour Market Test?

UK employers don’t need to complete a Resident Labour Market Test to recruit skilled migrant workers. All they need to show is that they have a genuine vacancy that meets the skill and salary level for the skilled worker visa.

Switching to the skilled worker visa?

If a potential employee is already in the UK on a different letter, he or she might be able to switch to the skilled worker visa.

Is there a cooling off period? What is the length of stay on a skilled worker visa?

There are no limits to the number of times an employee can apply to extend their skilled worker visa provided they meet the visa eligibility criteria.

How long does a skilled worker visa last for?

A skilled worker visa lasts for up to five years. An employee should think about extending their visa or settlement options, such as Indefinite Leave to Remain, before their work visa expires.

What are the Immigration conditions on a skilled worker visa?

Immigration conditions on a skilled worker visa include maintaining Employment with a sponsoring employer. If sponsored Employment is lost the visa will normally be curtailed to give the migrant worker a short period of time to secure Employment with another sponsoring employer or apply for a different type of visa.

Can dependants of skilled workers come to the UK?

The partners, children and those qualifying under the Immigration Rules as dependants of skilled worker visa applicants can apply for a dependant visa to accompany an employee to the UK.

If you are a UK business owner, especially if you’re an entrepreneur, start-up, or SME, applying for a Sponsorship Licence can be daunting task especially if you do not have inhouse expertise.

This is where BIAAP’s services can be very handy for you on a short-term or on a running basis. We are subject-matter experts in this field and will work hand in hand with you and your HR team to ensure that the last concern on your mind is getting a visa for an employee that is essential to your business.

This website is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. As the law is subject to changes and updates, please do not act and/or refrain from acting based on anything you read on this site. Always seek legal assistance when required from a accredited and practicing professional i.e. solicitors. BIAAP (Brightway Immigration and Asylum Practitioners) is subject to and upholds the laws of the United Kingdom and adheres to the code of conduct required by our profession.