Skilled Worker Visa

The Tier 2 (General) work visa has been superseded by the skilled worker visa. To get immediate assistance call us now at 0203 384 4389. We’re always available to help you.

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What is a Skilled Worker Visa?

The Skilled Worker Visa in the UK is designed for individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland who have been offered a skilled job in the UK. This visa has replaced the former Tier 2 (General) work visa. Here are the key points about the Skilled Worker Visa:

To know more about skilled worker visas call now at 0203 384 4389 

Eligible

The UK Visas and Immigration require the following information in order to grant you a Skilled Worker Visa:
Depending on your circumstances, you will need to satisfy specific requirements. It is therefore highly recommended that you speak with our expert team to ensure that you meet the criteria from the outset of your decision to apply.

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A Certificate of Sponsorship is a document a licences employer issues to a new employee who it intends to hire under the skilled worker immigration route.

An employer issued Certificate of Sponsorship is necessary in order to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa.

A Certificate of Sponsorship must be from an employer authorised by the Home Office under the Skilled Worker route to sponsor the position in question.

On the Home Office’s register of licensed sponsors, your sponsor must be rated A, unless you have previously worked for the same sponsor as in your last permission.

If you are applying for a skilled worker visa, your Sponsorship Certificate must have been issued no more than three months ago.

Certain mandatory information must be included in your Certificate of Sponsorship, such as:

Our experienced UK immigration lawyers can help you through each step of the immigration process. 

What does ‘Genuine Vacancy Requirement’ Mean?

Obtaining a Skilled Worker Visa will require you to prove to the Home Office that you are being sponsored to perform an actual vacancy and that you are capable of performing the role for which you were given your Certificate of Sponsorship.

In the event that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job you are to be sponsored for doesn’t exist, is a sham, or has been constructed primarily to facilitate your application for a Skilled Worker Visa, then your application will be rejected.

You will also need to ensure that the Home Office is satisfied that you have not entered into an agreement with a third party that involves filling a temporary or permanent position or undertaking contract work which involves carrying out an ongoing routine role or providing an ongoing routine service for a third party who is not your sponsor.

What does ‘Immigration Skills Charge Requirement’ Mean?

An employer seeking to employ foreign workers must pay a charge known as the Immigration Skills Charge.  

Any required Immigration Skills Charge must also be paid in full by your sponsor.

Employers must pay the Immigration Skills Charge each time they assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to a migrant.

It is important to note that the Immigration Skills Charge must be paid in full by the employer who is sponsoring you.

It is common for sponsors to ask if they can deduct the Immigration Skills Charge from the worker’s salary or whether they can request it at the outset. 

Sponsors must pay the ISC to the worker and cannot pass it on to the worker in any fashion. 

An employer is likely to lose their sponsor license if they pass the Immigration Skills Charge on to a worker to pay in any fashion whatsoever. 

Our experienced UK immigration lawyers can help you through each step of the immigration process. 

What does ‘Appropriate Skill Level Requirement’ Mean?

An employer must sponsor you for a job that qualifies for a Skilled Worker Visa and has a minimum level of skill.

This is called ‘an Appropriate Skill Level Requirement’ and any licensed employer who wishes to hire a skilled worker, must ensure that the job being offered meets the requirement set out by the Home Office.

Skilled Worker Visa applicants must have RQF levels 3 or higher, which roughly equates to A-level qualifications. 

Skills level requirements are not based on a formal qualification. If you meet the threshold, it will be determined by the skill level of the job you will be doing. 

Within an Appendix to the Immigration Rules, the Home Office lists eligible jobs and their skill levels.  All eligible jobs are assigned an occupational code. In order to qualify, the job must fall within an eligible occupation code in the Appendix.

An appropriate occupation code must be selected by your sponsor. Home Office will deny your application for a Skilled Worker Visa if it believes your sponsor has chosen the wrong occupation code.

The Home Office will assess whether your sponsor has selected an occupation code that is appropriate based on factors such as whether they have demonstrated a genuine need for the job as described, whether you have the necessary skills, qualifications, or experience to do the job described, and whether the sponsor has complied with immigration laws in the past.

What is the English Language Requirement for a Skilled Worker Visa?

n order to qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, you must be able to demonstrate that you can communicate effectively in the English language.

You must show you have the required level of English language proficiency on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) in all 4 components in order to qualify for a skilled worker visa.

In order to satisfy the English language requirement, candidates applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as skilled workers must:

What Does Salary Threshold Requirement Mean?

Under the Skilled Worker route, employers seeking to hire skilled workers must compensate them with a salary that equals or exceeds the general salary threshold and the ‘going rate’ for the occupation (as indicated in the occupation code of the relevant job), whichever is higher.

Under the Skilled Worker route, the general salary threshold is £25,600 per year. The visa applicant must usually be paid a salary equal to or above £25,600 per year and at least 100% of the going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher. Salary assessments are based on guaranteed basic gross income. 

Under the Skilled Worker route, some sponsored skilled workers may receive less than the above amount if they have been awarded ‘tradable points’ for other attributes:  

Our experienced UK immigration lawyers can help you through each step of the immigration process. 

What Does ‘Shortage Occupation List’ Mean?

There are skilled roles for which the Home Office keeps a list of positions for which employers are struggling to find enough workers.  

This is a feature of the current Tier 2 work migration route called the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). These are occupations where employers are facing a labour shortage and where migrant workers can help fill that shortage  

A number of special dispensations are provided for those occupations on the list within the immigration rules to make it easier for employers to hire migrant workers to fill vacancies in those areas of shortage.   

It is the Government’s responsibility to regularly commission the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to recommend what occupations should be added to the SOL. However, it is ultimately the Government who chooses the occupations.  

The salary threshold requirement will be reduced if you have a job offer for an occupation on the shortage occupation list.

What does it mean to be an experienced worker?

If an applicant does not meet one of the above requirements, they can apply for a Skilled Worker visa as an “experienced” worker. 

The salary requirement is what separates a new entrant from an experienced skilled worker. In all occupations, new entrants are paid 30% less than experienced workers. Nevertheless, the minimum salary a new employee can earn is £20,480.

This can be a complex and confusing area of the immigration rules however, our expert team are able to guide and advise you on all aspects of your Skilled Worker Visa Journey.

Get help from our expert team now to fully understand your position. 

What Do the Terms ‘New Entrant to the Labour Market’ and ‘Experienced Worker’ Mean?

People who apply for a Skilled Worker visa will either be considered as “new entrants” or as “experienced” workers. 

A new entrant is someone who enters the market for the first time.

According to Home Office guidance, a “new entrant” means someone who is just entering the job market, or someone who is nearing the beginning of a career, and who meets certain criteria. The term does not refer to applicants who are making their first application for a Skilled Worker or entering the UK for the first time.”

An experienced worker is one who has experience in their field or is extending their visa. If you wish to find out whether you qualify as a new entrant, you should seek legal advice. 

Who are the new entrants?

Those who meet one or more of the following criteria are considered new entrants according to Home Office guidance:

What Financial Requirements Must a Skilled Worker Applicant Meet?

In most cases, you need at least £1,270 in cash, subject to the exemptions below.

The money must have been held for at least 28 consecutive days and not more than 31 days prior to the date of your Skilled Worker Visa application.

If necessary, a fully ‘A-rated’ sponsor who agrees to cover your maintenance costs up to the end of the first month of your employment will exempt you from the financial requirement. This must be confirmed on your Certificate of Sponsorship by your sponsor.

If you are applying for permission to remain in the UK and have been here with permission for more than 12 months at the time of application, you qualify as meeting the financial requirement.

What Does Criminal Record Certificate Requirement Mean?

In the case of obtaining entry clearance for certain jobs (generally jobs in the health, care, welfare, and education sectors), unless it is not feasible to do so, you will be required to provide a criminal record certificate for any country in which, since the age of 18, you have resided for a period of 12 months or more (continuously or cumulatively) in the ten years prior to your application date.

You’ll need to provide a criminal record certificate if you’re applying from outside the UK and you work in:

If you’ve lived in more than one country

You might need to provide a certificate from each country you’ve lived in, depending on your age and how long you stayed in each country.

If you’re under 28, you’ll need a certificate from any country you’ve stayed in for a total of 12 months or more since you turned 18.

If you’re 28 or over, you’ll need a certificate from any country you’ve stayed in over the last 10 years.

Our experienced UK immigration lawyers can help you through each step of the immigration process. 

What Does Resident Labour Market Test Mean?

The Resident Labour Market Test is no longer a requirement under the immigration rules for Skilled Workers.

Previously, a UK employer who wanted to sponsor someone for a Tier 2 (General) visa – the main type – usually had to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).

This involved advertising the job in a special way for 28 days to see if there were any suitable settled workers available to fill the vacancy from within the domestic labour market. 

Roughly speaking, a settled worker is a British or European Economic Area national, or someone who has indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

If any suitable settled workers applied (who met the minimum requirements of the job) then the employer would have to offer the job to them, rather than the non-EEA national they wanted to sponsor, even if the person they wanted to sponsor was the better candidate.

Following Brexit, it was evident that there were significant skills shortages in the UK and in order to fill those vacancies, employers needed more freedom to hire globally so that they can hire the best person for the job based on their skills and abilities.

In order to achieve a more balanced and effective approach, the focus has now shifted away from the former RLMT and now focuses instead on ensuring that the vacancy is genuine.

Under the current immigration system there are four main requirements for a Skilled Worker visa:

Can I switch my existing visa over to the Skilled Worker Visa Route?

You might be able to apply to change (‘switch’) to a Skilled Worker visa if you’re already in the UK on a different type of visa.

Your partner or children will need to apply separately to switch their visa. They can either apply at the same time as you, or at any time before their current visa expires.

You must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until you get a decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do.

Eligibility

Your proposed job must meet strict job eligibility requirements

You must have a satisfactory proficiency of English in speaking, reading, writing and understanding.

Who cannot apply to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa from within the UK

You cannot apply to switch to this visa if you’re currently in the UK:

You must leave the UK and apply for a Skilled Worker visa from abroad if you’re in one of these categories.

What Does ‘cooling off period’ in the Skilled Worker Route Mean?

The Tier 2 cooling off period previously barred Tier 2 visa holders from returning to the UK for a period of 12 months after their visa expired or moving back to a Tier 2 visa from another UK leave category within 12 months (unless they earned more than £159,600). 

It applied to people who were either abroad and had their last grant of Tier 2 leave expire or finish; or who were in the UK and had an earlier period of Tier 2 leave, but then transferred to a different immigration category and then tried to apply under Tier 2 again.

The Tier 2 cooling off period has been eliminated, allowing Tier 2 (General) and Skilled Worker visa holders to apply for a UK visa without having to wait. Existing Tier 2 General visa holders will no longer be subject to these restrictions as a result of this adjustment.

The Tier 2 cooling off period had been troublesome for both sponsors and workers, and the revised rules provide skilled workers more flexibility in returning to the UK while also improving companies’ foreign recruitment possibilities.

There is no longer a 12-month ‘cooling off period’ for Skilled Workers.  

There is no restriction on the timing of applications for skilled worker visas.

How Long Does a Skilled Worker Visa Last?

Visas for Skilled Workers can be granted for a maximum of five years.

If the visa holder wants to extend the visa at this point, they can do so; if they have completed the five-year residency requirement, they may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Providing you follow the visa requirements, there is no limit to how many times you can extend the skilled worker visa.

Formerly, applicants to the Tier 2 (General) route had to spend up to six years in the route to be eligible for entry clearance or to switch to the route.

A six-year maximum stay has been removed from the Skilled Worker route. There is no duration limit.

It is necessary to apply for a new period of leave if the visa holder changes sponsors or jobs.

This means that if you continue working for your sponsor (and meet compliance requirements) for a continuous period of 5 years, you are eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain which will then afford you a status equivalent to permanent residency.

At this point, you become free from immigration control and enter and leave the UK at your leisure without any visa requirements.

You also enjoy all of the same rights as a settled person in the UK

Our experienced UK immigration lawyers can help you through each step of the immigration process. 

Can I do a Second Job or Study Whilst on the Skilled Worker Visa?

Holders of Skilled Worker Visas can work in the job for which they have been sponsored. 

In addition, they are permitted to work a supplementary job as long as they remain in the position for which they have been sponsored. 

There is also the option to study, subject to obtaining the necessary ATAS certificate.  

The government does not provide funding for this.

You can do additional paid work on this visa as long as you’re still doing the job you’re being sponsored for. You can also do unpaid voluntary work.

You can work up to 20 hours a week in a job that’s either:

If you want to work more than 20 hours a week or in a different occupation code

You’ll need to apply to update your visa so that you’re being sponsored to do both jobs.

This can be extremely difficult and cause complications for your existing visa and any further position applied for.

You’ll need to:

There are important UKVI compliance considerations as well as Employer policy / contractual obligations and conflicts of interest which must be examined in detail, and it is therefore not recommended to take on additional work unless there are compelling reasons to do so.

Our expert team are able to discuss any concerns or requirements at length with you to ensure the most appropriate action is taken and your immigration status is safeguarded at all times.

When Do I Qualify for Settlement (Permanent Residency) on the Skilled Worker Route?

Settlement means that you are considered to be permanently in the UK and do not require any further visas.

Indefinite leave to remain is how you settle in the UK.

It’s also called ‘settlement’. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

You can use it to apply for British citizenship.

The following conditions must be met in order to qualify for settlement as a Skilled Worker:

ILR Salary Threshold Requirement

You must earn a salary of at least £25,600 per year or the ‘going rate’ for your profession (as described in the occupation code), whichever is higher.

As for the following applicants, the only requirement is that they earn at least £20,480 a year or the ‘going rate’ for the occupation, whichever is higher:

Settlement applications are not eligible for other salary reductions through tradable points.

Our experienced UK immigration lawyers can help you through each step of the immigration process. 

Can My Partner and Children Join Me as a Skilled Worker Visa Holder?

If you are a Skilled Worker in the UK, your immediate family can also come to the UK with you as your dependents.

They will be free to work, study or travel freely whilst subject to a dependent visa.

Dependant Visas are issued to the family members of migrants who qualify for the visa.  

A dependent is defined by the Immigration Rules as:

For the purposes of the Dependant Visa, it is highly unlikely that any other family members would be eligible for dependant status.

A spouse or partner may obtain a dependent visa if the person they are dependent on is either:

Same-sex or unmarried partners must also be able to show they have been in a subsisting genuine relationship akin to marriage for the past two years.

Dependant visas are available for children if:

Dependant visas can only be applied for by the children of a sole parent if:

Having sufficient finances to support a family without recourse to public funds is a requirement of the Dependant Visa. 

As an example, if the visa applicant is the main applicant, he/she is required to submit evidence of having £285 in savings for their dependent partner, along with an additional £315 in savings for their first dependent child and £200 for each additional dependent child. 

Applicants may not have to provide proof of funds availability if a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence holder with an A-rating can certify that these funds will be made available.

How can UK Immigration Solicitors help me?

Our expert legal team are highly experienced in assisting with the below services (where the option has been made available by UKVI)

Introductions to Sponsor Licence Holders – UK Immigration Solicitors work with a trusted partner network who have direct access to employers who are recruiting for specific vacancies and in some circumstances, we can introduce you to third party network partners who offer recruitment services if your job is on the shortage occupation list.

New Applications – We can help you assess the merits, challenges and solutions to any issues arising whilst making a new application for Skilled Worker Visas.

Dependents – We can help you make a successful application for your partner or children to join you as your dependents on your Skilled Worker Visa.

Legal Representations – Where applicable, if you find yourself in an unusual or challenging situation and want the Home Office to take notice of your special circumstances to ensure that you are treated fairly and your rights are respected, our expert team can make both oral and written persuasive legal representations.

Challenge a Refusal – If your application has been refused, we can consider your refusal for free and advise on the best course of action.

Administrative Review – Home Office or Immigration Rules can be challenged if the decision-maker failed to follow them correctly.

Judicial Review – If your application was denied illegally, unreasonable or procedurally improperly, our immigration lawyers can apply for Judicial Review and represent you at the Judicial Review hearing.

Appeal an Unfair Decision – The decision to refuse your application may provide you with a right of appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. Our expert lawyers can advise you on and handle Appeals before the Immigration & Asylum Chamber (First Tier & Upper Tribunal)

Our experienced UK immigration lawyers can help you through each step of the immigration process. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Most of the time, a child needs a visa in order to live in the UK. For instance, if their parent is a foreign national working or studying in the country, the child may need a Child Dependant Visa.

You must receive a minimum annual salary of £25,600, unless the “going rate” for your job is higher. Occupation codes may have specified annual going rates, which can be checked online by you and your employer.

Specific salary regulations are applicable for individuals employed in healthcare or education positions.

The Skilled Worker Visa restricts employment to the specific employer and role for which you were sponsored. If you intend to work for a different employer or transition to a job with a different occupation code under the same employer, you must apply to modify your Skilled Worker Visa.

An application update is also necessary when transitioning from a job on the Shortage Occupation List to one not on the list. However, if you remain in the same role, and it is removed from the Shortage Occupation List, there is no need to update your Skilled Worker Visa.

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is a document used by a UK employer to sponsor a skilled foreign worker for employment in the country. This certificate verifies that both the skilled worker and the role comply with sponsorship eligibility criteria.

To issue a CoS, an employer must be registered with the Home Office as a sponsor, holding a valid sponsorship license for hiring foreign workers. There are two types of CoS: defined and undefined, designed for different scenarios.

A defined CoS is intended for out-of-country workers applying for a visa from outside the UK. Employers can issue an unlimited number of defined CoS, and they are valid for 3 months.

On the other hand, an undefined CoS is for in-country workers switching to a skilled worker visa from another visa type. Employers can only issue an undefined CoS if they have received an allocation covering the CoS they intend to provide.

The key distinction lies in the application process. With a defined certificate, the employee must have a job offer before applying for the visa. In contrast, with an undefined certificate, the employee can apply for the visa without a job offer, provided they meet other requirements.

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