Skilled Worker Visa, The Most Popular Migration Option To The UK

Sreela Sunilkumar

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Skilled Worker Visa Overview

The skilled work visa route allows qualifying individuals to come to the UK and work for an approved sponsor employer in an eligible role. This route has replaced the previous Tier 2 (General) Visa and is currently the main route for non-UK nationals to work in the UK. This applies for all overseas nationals including EEA & Swiss nationals. 

Who does it benefit?

You may be an employer looking to hire a skilled worker from overseas or a skilled worker who is already in the UK however does not have the rights to work for your organisation full time. You also may be an individual who has been offered a role by a sponsor organisation and wishes to apply for a skilled worker visa. Either way it is important to understand the skilled worker visa eligibility, application requirements and the process to avoid costly mistakes. 

What is Skilled Worker Visa?

The Skilled Worker Visa allows employers to recruit non-UK nationals for certain eligible roles. The employer needs to be a licenced sponsor in order to be able to sponsor migrant workers. You can read more details about how to get a sponsor licence for your organisation here. 

An individual needs to attain 70 points by meeting specific required such as skill and salary level, English language proficiency and qualifying job offer from a UK sponsor organisation. 

You are able to apply for a skilled worker visa for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You are able to extend or switch the visa when it expires. After 5 years you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK also known and 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.

What can you do in a Skilled Worker Visa?

As a skilled worker you are allowed to work in the role for the organisation that sponsored you. You are also allowed to study or take on additional supplementary work in certain circumstances. You can do voluntary work and travel abroad and return to the UK. You however cannot apply for most benefits (public funds) or change job or employer unless you apply to update your visa. 

You are also allowed to bring your spouse and dependant children to join or accompany you to the UK. 

Skilled Worker eligible occupations

In order to determine if the role is eligible to be sponsored under the Skilled Worker Route, the sponsor organisation is required to identify the SOC (Standard Occupation Code) for the role and job title that matches the job description and duties of the role. This is usually done in the ONS occupation coding tool. Once the SOC is identified, this needs to be matched with the list of eligible occupations listed by the home office and check if the role is sponsorable in the skilled worker route. 

The application may be refused if the correct SOC is not used. Our team can assist the employer in ensuring the code is accurate and advice if it is in the list of occupations that may be sponsored. 

Skill and minimum salary requirement

In most circumstances, the job role must be skilled to at least RQF level 3, which is roughly equivalent to A-levels. The skill level is determined by the job itself, and you will not need to necessarily hold a formal qualification.

The Skilled Worker visa general minimum salary threshold is £25,600 per year, unless the ‘going rate’ for the particular role is higher. Every occupational code is assigned a going rate. You’ll usually need to be paid at least £25,600 per year or £10.10 per hour, whichever is higher. If the ‘going rate’ for your job is higher than both of these, you’ll usually need to be paid at least the going rate.  The salary level must be calculated by the hour and not just annually. 

If you work in healthcare or education there are different salary rules and the going rate is based on the national pay scales. 

If you do not meet the usual salary requirements, and you do not work in healthcare or education, you might still be eligible if your salary will be at least £20,480 per year and at least £10.10 per hour. This is because the applicant can rely on a salary of 70% to 90% of the relevant going rate provided one of the few specifications are met. This can be either a job offer in a shortage occupation, have a post-doctoral position in science or higher education, STEM PhD level qualification or they are classified as a new entrant to the UK labour market. 

A new entrant is someone who is under 26 on the date they make their application and is applying for a maximum period of 3 years’ leave as a skilled worker, those sponsored in postdoctoral research positions, those in professional training or studying for professional qualifications, registration or chartered status or a recent graduate, or in professional training.

The salary requirement for new entrants is 30% lower than the rate for experienced workers in any occupation, even though the minimum of £20,480 must still be met. There are also different minimum salary rules for workers in certain health or education occupations.

What are the required documents for a Skilled Worker Visa application?

You will need to submit certain information and documentation to the Home Office as part of the application process.

You will need to provide the following information:

  • A valid passport or other document which shows your identity and nationality
  • Your certificate of sponsorship reference number
  • Proof of your English language ability (unless exempt)
  • Your job title, occupation code and salary
  • The name of the employer and their sponsorship licence number

You may also be asked to provide the following information:

  • Bank statements which demonstrate you can financially support yourself, as explained below
  • Proof of your relationship to your partner, children or dependents if they are applying with you
  • Tuberculosis test result (if applicable)
  • Criminal record certificate if applying for certain jobs. (Broadly speaking, this is jobs in healthcare, education and welfare sectors
  • Your UK PhD certificate or unique UK NARIC reference number if qualification is from outside the UK (if applicable)

The specific documents which you need to provide will depend on your own unique circumstances. For this reason, we highly recommend enlisting the services of an experienced immigration law firm.

How to apply for the UK Skilled Worker Visa

The steps involved in applying for the Skilled Worker route are:

  • Receive an eligible job offer from a UKVI-approved employer in the UK
  • Ensure you meet the eligibility requirements for the visa
  • Gather your supporting documents (and translations if necessary)
  • Apply for the Skilled Worker Visa online
  • You can apply for the visa outside the UK, or inside the UK if you are switching or extending a current work visa
  • Prove your identity by submitting your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) or use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document
  • Apply for the visa up to three months before the day you are due to start your job
  • If you apply from outside the UK, you can expect a decision within 3 weeks
  • If you apply from inside the UK, you may have to wait up to 8 weeks to receive a decision

The application process may take longer if the documents and information which you provide are insufficient.  Also, you might be asked to verify documents or attend an interview.

How can we assist?

Our Immigration lawyers at City Legal have immense experience in assisting skilled workers and their employers across a wide range of industry and sectors in the UK. We pride ourselves in being approachable, innovative and always going that extra mile to make sure our clients receive the individual attention they deserve. Our Immigration team maintains a high reputation and is committed to provide clear, transparent and reliable advice to our clients.

We are extremely well versed in UK work visa applications and the complications they may bring. We have dealt with all forms of Tier 2 Visas, including the former Tier 2 (General) Visa.

We can help you to formulate your Skilled Worker Visa application to the very highest standard. One of our experienced immigration lawyers can work with you through the entire application process.

Your immigration lawyer will write a letter of representation, highlighting the merits of your case in accompaniment with your application.

To find out more about how we can help you to secure your Skilled Worker Visa, please get in touch now. 


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