QC Immigration has years of experience helping clients successfully obtain Skilled Worker Visas. Our London-based immigration lawyers can guide you through the entire process, whether you are applying for the first time, extending or switching to this type of visa. We can help you no matter where you are in the world, providing a professional service and outstanding client care. If you would like to discuss this visa route with a member of the team, please get in touch.
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Those looking for a visa to work in the UK who have been offered a skilled job may be eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa. The Skilled Worker Visa is a route under the Points Based System which allows workers to undertake skilled employment in the UK. It replaces what was known as the Tier 2 (General) Work Visa.
The Skilled Worker Visa offers those with specific roles in leading sectors and industries the opportunity to live and work in the UK and can be an eventual path towards Indefinite Leave To Remain.
Successful applicants will be able to stay in the UK for the period of employment stated on their Certificate of Sponsorship, up to a maximum period of 5 years, plus any time before the start date on the Certificate of Sponsorship and 14 days after the end date. Therefore, the duration of your visa can vary depending on your circumstances.
Skilled Worker Visa Requirements
As with all visas, you must meet certain requirements in order to have your application accepted. Skilled workers are workers in competitive fields that benefit the UK and its economy. Your workplace must vouch for you through sponsorship and your role must be a ‘genuine vacancy’. To meet the requirements, you must:
- Be aged 18 or over
- Have been offered a qualifying skilled job in the UK
- Ensure the company has a valid sponsor licence
- Have the suitable experience and skills for the position
- Be offered a minimum and ‘appropriate’ salary
- Have the required level of English (CEFR level B1)
- Have £1,270 in your bank account for 28 days before you apply, unless your Sponsor can certify maintenance, or you have been in the UK for longer than 12 months
- Have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed sponsor company before you can apply. The work you do in the UK must relate to the work of your sponsor organisation
- Provide a criminal record certificate, if required
- Provide a valid TB certificate, if required
Skilled jobs eligibility
In order to be eligible for this type of visa, you must have an offer of employment from what can be considered a skilled job. There are a variety of requirements a role must meet in order to be considered a skilled job, but the general requirements tend to be based on your salary and whether you have an approved UK employer.
You must be employed by an employer from the UK that has been approved by the Home Office, has a valid sponsor licence and is willing to sponsor you. If they do not yet have an Employer Sponsorship Licence, they may be able to apply for one.
If your employer has a Sponsor Licence, you can check with them whether your job meets the eligibility requirements, in which case you would receive a Certificate of Sponsorship. You must submit your Skilled Worker Visa application within 3 months of receiving this certificate.
Additionally, to be eligible, your job role must fall under one of the occupational codes specified by the Home Office. The occupational codes are based on job categories that are eligible and are usually 4-digit occupation codes that describe the nature of your work. For assistance with this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of expert lawyers.
The typical salary requirement for a skilled job is either £25,600 per year, £10.10 per hour or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work you’ll be doing – whichever option is highest. The going rate will depend on the occupational code your role falls under and whether any reductions would be applicable based on your circumstances.
There are situations where you may be eligible even if you are paid less if your job is considered a Shortage Occupation in the UK due to skills shortage in the industry. New Entrants to the labour market may qualify with a slightly lower salary as well. In some cases, you may still be eligible if your salary is less than £20,480 per year, but your hourly rate must still be at least £10.10. Eligible jobs need to meet at least one of the following criteria:
- There is a shortage in the UK for your occupation
- You are under 26 and are either studying, recently graduated or in professional training
- You have a postdoctoral position in higher education or science
- You have a qualification at PhD level that is relevant to your job in science, technology, engineering or maths – any other subject may raise the salary requirements to a minimum of £23,040
Please note that if you work in some education or healthcare jobs, there are different salary rules based on national pay scales.
Alongside the salary requirements for the skilled job, you will need to prove that you can support yourself while living in the UK, without the need for public funds. You will need to show you have had at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 days in a row, the last day being within 31 days of applying for the Skilled Worker Visa.
If you have any dependants, you will need to show additional funds for each of them:
- £285 for your partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
The financial requirements may not apply to you if you either:
- Have been in the UK with a valid visa for 12 months or more
- Have an employer who can cover your costs during the first month in the UK (up to £1,270)
If the employer is supporting you instead, the appropriate section of the Certificate of Sponsorship should be filled to clearly state this.
Knowledge of English
You may have to prove your knowledge of English during your application. This is usually done by either:
- Having a qualification that was taught or researched in English
- Having a GCSE, A level, SNQ level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English. You must have begun school in the UK when you were under 18
- Passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider
If opting for test, you must achieve a level B1 or higher on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. Please note that if you have gained qualifications aboard, you may need to get your documents certified through Ecctis (formerly UK Naric) to confirm the UK equivalence of your degree.
There are some cases when you may not have to provide evidence of your knowledge of English. This includes doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists and vets that have already passed an assessment as part of their relevant professional body regulation, as well as nationals from the following countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Applying to a Skilled Worker Visa
All applications are made online on the Home Office’s website. It’s important to ensure that you have all the required documents before starting the process. There are differences in how you apply depending on whether you are applying from outside the UK, or if you are applying from within the UK to extend or switch to this visa.
If your situation changes (i.e. if your employer or job changes) you will need to apply to update your Skilled Worker Visa.
When to apply
Applications should be made up to 3 months before coming to work in the UK.
If you are starting a new job and need to update your visa, you must also apply within 3 months of starting your new occupation.
Documents you will need to provide
During your application, you will be asked to provide documentation and evidence that can showcase that you are meeting all the requirements to be granted a Skilled Worker Visa. There are numerous variables depending on individual situations, therefore, it is highly recommended to seek legal help so you know you will have a strong case that has been reviewed by an expert in UK immigration law.
Some of the documents you may include in your application are:
- An identity document such as a passport, or a biometric residence permit, if you have one
- A Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer
- Proof of knowledge of English, if applicable
- Evidence that you meet the financial requirements and can support yourself and any dependants
- A tuberculosis test, depending on which country you are applying from
- Your criminal record certificate, if applicable
Skilled Worker Visa costs
The cost of a Skilled Worker Visa depends on your situation.
If you are applying from outside the UK, you will pay £610 if staying in the UK for up to 3 years, or £1,220 if you are staying more than 3 years. Please note this cost is per-person.
If you are applying from within the UK to update, switch or extend your visa, you will need to pay £704 for a stay of up to 3 years, and £1,408 for more than 3 years.
If your job is on the shortage occupation list, the fees are the same regardless of whether you are applying from outside or within the UK. The cost is £464 for up to 3 years and £928 for over 3 years.
If the application is submitted on or before 25 February 2022, nationals from the following countries will also benefit from a reduction of £55 on their application (this will be automatically taken into account during your application):
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.
You and your dependants may need to pay the healthcare surcharge, which is usually £624 per year per person. You can check how much you will need using the Home Office’s IHS calculator.
There may also be additional costs associated with Biometrics enrolment as well as additional costs incurred by language tests or certified translators. These should be added to the total cost of the visa.
You should also consider legal fees if you wish to hire immigration lawyers for your case. By ensuring that your case is well presented and includes all relevant evidence, you considerably increase your chances of being granted a visa on the first try, which will save you time and money.
Bringing your family on a Skilled Worker Visa
Those applying for a Skilled Worker Visa may be able to bring dependants (partner and children) in the UK, if they are eligible. If applying from outside the UK, each family member will need to fill in a separate application and pay the fee.
You and your partner must either be:
- In a civil partnership or marriage (recognised in the UK)
- Living together and in a relationship for at least 2 years at the time of the application
Children under 18 may be added to your application as dependants, including if they were born in the UK during your stay. Children over 18 can still be listed as your dependant.
If your child is 16 or older, they must:
- Live with you
- Not be married or in a civil partnership
- Not have children of their own
- Be financially supported by you
You may need to provide evidence during your application. Such evidence may include identification documents, bank statements, NHS registration documents or official letters from university/college.
When applying for an extension or switching to this visa, your dependants may choose to apply at the same time as you, or at any time before their current visa expires.
Extending a Skilled Worker Visa
If you wish to extend your stay, you may apply to extend your Skilled Worker Visa if you meet the following criteria:
- You are still working in the same job as when you were previously given permission to enter or stay in the UK
- Your job is in the same occupation code
- You are still working for the employer who provided your Certificate of Sponsorship
Applications must be made online before your current visa expires. Dependants can choose to apply to extend their visa at the same time as you, or at any point before the end of their visa.
Please note that extensions are not intended for those who have changed jobs, in which case you would need to apply to update your current visa instead.
Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa
If you are already in the UK on a different visa, you may be able to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa, provided that you meet all the eligibility requirements.
However, you cannot switch to this visa if you:
- Are on a short-term Student Visa, or Parent of a Child Student Visa
- Are on a Visit Visa
- Are on a Seasonal Worker Visa
- Are on a Domestic Worker in Private Household Visa
- Are on immigration bail
- Were given permission to stay outside of immigration rules (on compassionate grounds, for example)
If you fall into any of these categories, you would need to leave the UK and apply from abroad.
If your visa has been refused
When getting a refusal from the Home Office, you will receive a letter explaining why your visa application was refused. Any documents kept as part of the application would also be returned to you.
Refusals are often caused by applications that are either missing evidence, presenting evidence that is weak or unclear.
The refusal letter will explain whether you have the right to appeal the decision or ask for an Administrative Review. Depending on your circumstances, one or the other may apply.
In either case, it’s important to move fast if you wish to appeal or ask for a review of your case. Working with immigration law experts such as QC Immigration will ensure that your appeal or review is thoroughly reviewed and give you the best chance of obtaining a positive decision.
How QC Immigration can help
With differing salary and income requirements as well as a grey area surrounding what is and is not an applicable skilled job, it is highly advised to work alongside lawyers such as QC Immigration to build a strong case and ensure a successful Skilled Worker Visa application.
An example of this being apparent is through Chefs and Cooks. Chefs are eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa, while cooks are not despite similar job titles and descriptions.
For something as potentially life-changing as residence in the UK, it is advisable to consult with a team of experts who will assist you put forth your best case in order to give you as great a chance of success as possible.
At QC Immigration our London-based team of experienced professionals who have specialised in immigration law have worked with thousands of individual cases with unique requirements and factors. We are equipped with the knowledge and the resources to build your best possible application for a Skilled Worker Visa.
How much does a Skilled Worker Visa cost?
The standard fee for a skilled worker visa ranges from £610 to £1,408 depending on individual circumstances. You will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge (usually £624/year). If your job is on the shortage occupation list, you may pay a lower application fee.
Can I bring my family with me to the UK?
Yes, your family members (partner or children under 18) can join you as your dependants, provided they meet the eligibility requirements.
How can I apply for the Skilled Worker Visa?
All applications are made online. The Home Office allows you to save a draft version of your application before submitting it. We recommend ensuring that you have all documentation ready before starting the process. You may also want to hire a lawyer to review your application before submitting it.
How long does the process take?
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to commence employment. Once the application is submitted, the Home Office will usually reach a decision within 3 weeks (if outside in the UK) or 8 weeks (if inside the UK). We can advise you on the available Priority Services to fast-track the application.
How long can I stay in the UK under a Skilled Worker Visa?
Successful applicants will be able to stay in the UK for the period of employment stated on their Certificate of Sponsorship, up to a maximum period of 5 years, plus any time before the start date on the Certificate of Sponsorship and 14 days after the end date.
Can I extend a Skilled Worker Visa?
You can apply to extend your Skilled Worker Visa if you meet the necessary eligibility criteria. This involves having the same job, employer and occupational code as specified in your Certificate of Sponsorship. However, there may be different eligibility criteria depending on when you were granted your Certificate of Sponsorship. After the initial 5 years, you may also be eligible to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain under other routes.
Can I change jobs under a Skilled Worker Visa?
Your visa will only be valid for the job sponsored by the employer as part of your original application. If you find a new role and/or Sponsor, we shall need to ensure the new terms will continue to be compliant under the latest Immigration Rules and update your Skilled Worker Visa.
Can I have multiple jobs under a Skilled Worker Visa?
You may do additional work if you are still doing the job you are sponsored for (this can include voluntary unpaid work), and you are either working less than 20 hours a week for this second job, or in a shortage occupation. If you are going to be working more than 20 hours a week on top of your sponsored job, or in a different occupation code, you will need to update your Skilled Worker Visa so that you are sponsored in both occupations.
What are the eligible occupations?
The Home Office has published a list of eligible occupations which are accepted for the Skilled Worker Visa, available here. However, this is not always clear and can involve extensive research. To ensure that your proposed job qualifies under the Skilled Worker Visa, please consult with one of our Immigration lawyers.
What can I do on a Skilled Worker Visa?
With this visa you may work in an eligible job, study, carry out unpaid voluntary work and return to the UK after travelling abroad. However, you cannot apply for most benefits or the state pension. You also cannot change jobs unless you apply to update your visa.