- What is the Skilled Worker visa?
- Skilled worker eligibility and requirements
- How to apply
- Certificate of Sponsorship
- Skilled worker visa extension
- Costs and fees
- Salary requirements
- The Shortage Occupation List
- Knowledge of English
- Changing employer
- Points-based immigration system
- Family members
- How can Manchester Immigration Lawyers help?
What is a Skilled Worker visa?
The Skilled Worker visa was previously known as the Tier 2 (General) visa and has now replaced this as part of the UK’s new points-based immigration system.
This route only applied to non-EU nationals, but free movement in the United Kingdom ended on the 31 December 2020, now EU citizens also need a visa to obtain permission to stay and work in the UK.
The new Skilled Worker visa route requires applicants to be categorised as a worker at the appropriate skill level and to score at least 70 points.
Scoring the required points for this permit does not mean that your application will be automatically accepted or that you will be given entry clearance. The Home Office will also review applications against the General Grounds for Refusal Criteria so applications may still be refused.
The rules and specific requirements for the Skilled Worker visa mostly depend on the your individual circumstances and the nature of the job you have been offered.
The Skilled Worker route can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years of residency in the UK.
When you apply for a UK work visa including the Skilled Worker visa, the process can be complicated and costly. To ensure you get it right first-time, we advise seeking professional guidance or feel free to reach out to one of our expert immigration lawyers.
Note that those who are eligible for the EU settlement scheme do not need to apply for apply for a Skilled Worker visa.
Nationals who may be eligible for the EU settlement scheme include citizens from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein who were already living inside the UK before the 1 January 2021.
Irish citizens can work in the United Kingdom without a Skilled Worker visa and do not need to apply for the EU settlement scheme.
Eligibility and requirements
The Skilled Worker visa route is part of the UK’s new points-based immigration system. You will need to be score at least 70 points to be eligible for this route.
The 70 points can be scored in different ways such as:
- Valid Certificate of Sponsorship – 30 points
- Appropriate salary rate – 20 points
- Knowledge of the English language – 10 points
- Maintenance funds – 10 points
As well as meeting the required number of points, you should ensure that you are able to meet the other requirements before applying.
You can be eligible for the Skilled Worker visa route if you:
- Have a job offer from a UK-based company for a role at the appropriate skill level
- Hold a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by a licensed sponsor
- Will be able to meet the appropriate salary threshold for the job
- Meet specific English language requirements
- Can support yourself and your family without relying on public funds.
How to apply
To apply for entry clearance under the Skilled Worker visa route, you will first need to receive a job offer from a UK-based company that is a registered Skilled Worker sponsor.
If they are not a registered sponsor already then they will need to apply for a Sponsor Licence.
Your employer will need to assign you a Certificate of Sponsorship. Once your CoS has been granted, you will be able to apply for a Skilled Worker visa. You must apply online via the gov.uk website.
You must apply within 3 months from the date your Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned. You should know that if your application is refused and you wish to make another request, you will need a new Certificate of Sponsorship.
As well as submitting the application form to the Home Office, you will also need to submit a portfolio of evidence to prove to the Home Office that you meet all the relevant requirements.
If you wish to apply for a UK work visa including the Skilled Worker visa, our immigration solicitors can help, call us now on 0161 826 9783 (local rate).
Certificate of Sponsorship
One of the main requirements of the Skilled Worker visa is that your employer is on the licensed Skilled Worker Sponsor list. You will need to show this in your application by providing proof through your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
The CoS is not a physical document but a reference number that must be included in your application. Should your company have its Sponsor Licence revoked while you are an employee there, you will need to find a new sponsor and reapply for your visa.
If your employer is not a registered sponsor then they will need to apply to be on the sponsorship list.
Skilled Worker visa extension
If you already have a Skilled Worker visa and you would like to remain in the UK after the 5 years are up, you will have to apply for an extension.
If you have any dependents on your visa, such as children, siblings or a spouse, then it’s important to ensure that they are also included on your Skilled Worker visa extension application if they are still dependent.
You will be eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker visa extension if you meet the following criteria:
- Your job has not changed since applying for your original Skilled Worker visa
- You are still earning an ‘appropriate salary’
- You still meet the eligibility requirements
- Your job is in the same occupation code as when you were given your previous immigration permission
- You are employed by the company who assigned your current Certificate of Sponsorship
The current fees for a Skilled Worker visa extension are as follows:
- £704 per person for up to 3-year extension
- £1,408 per person for more than a 3-year extension
You will need to provide the Home Office with certain documentation and information as part of the application process for a Skilled Worker extension.
A decision is usually sent within 8 weeks of the application date.
Costs and fees
The Skilled Worker visa fees vary depending on where you are applying from and how long you plan to stay in the UK for. The current fees are as follows:
For applications from outside of the UK:
- up to 3 years – £610 per person
- more than 3 years – £1,220 per person
Applications from inside the UK:
- up to 3 years – £704 per person
- more than 3 years – £1,408 per person
If your job is on the Shortage Occupation list, then the fee is lowered to:
- £464 if you’re staying for up to 3 years
- £928 if you’re staying for more than 3 years
If you are from certain the following countries, your application fee will be reduced by £55: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey.
It’s also important to consider other costs that you will incur when applying, these may include:
- English Test – £150
- Biometric fee (to have your fingerprints and photo taken for your Biometric Residents Permit) – £19.20
- Immigration Health Surcharge – unless on a Health and Care visa then you will be required to pay the health surcharge for access to the NHS, this costs £624 a year.
To be eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa, you must be able to meet the minimum salary threshold for your role. You’ll usually need to be paid at least £25,600 per year, or the ‘going rate’ for your job, whichever is higher.
The going rate varies depending on the type of job, you can find out the going rate for your job using your occupation code.
In some circumstances, you may not need to meet the salary threshold of £25,600 or the going rate of your job. This applies if:
- your job is in a shortage occupation
- you’re under 26, studying, or a recent graduate
- you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to your job (if you have a relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject your salary must be at least £23,040)
- you have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education
In these circumstances, you can be paid between 70% and 90% of the usual going rate for your job if your salary is at least £20,480 per year.
The Shortage Occupation List
The aim of the list is to set out the types of jobs that immigrants are needed to fill in the UK. Your application fee will be reduced if your role is on the Shortage Occupation List.
Just some of the jobs on the SOL include: Medical practitioners, electrical engineers, nurses, artists, various types of scientists, architects, vets, laboratory technicians, graphic designers, psychologists, pharmacists, social workers, paramedics, occupational therapists, IT programmers and many more.
There is also a list that is specifically for jobs in Scotland.
Knowledge of English
You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply. You can prove your knowledge by either:
- passing an approved test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
- having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD
You don’t have to prove your knowledge if you are from a majority English speaking country.
You may also be exempt from proving your knowledge if you have a disability.
Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the United Kingdom.
A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:
- your husband, wife or partner
- your child under 18
- your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant
The costs remain the same for any dependent you wish to bring with you to the UK.
You must also show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK. Each dependant must have a certain amount of money available to them. You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.
How Manchester Immigration Lawyers can help
At Manchester Immigration Lawyers we know just how complicated the application process for the Skilled Worker Visa can be. Our expert immigration lawyers are here to help make the process as smooth as possible and give you the best chance of success.
With over 50 years of experience and training in all aspects of immigration law, you can be sure your application is in the right hands with our immigration lawyers.
Whether you are an applicant or an employer, Manchester Immigration Lawyers has a wealth of experience in securing Skilled Worker Visas. Our Manchester offices are staffed by a highly-skilled team of experienced immigration lawyers who are fully equipped to advise you on your UK immigration options.
Our services include:
- confirming that all documents are adequate before submitting the application;
- preparing a detailed Letter of Representation;
- managing contact with the Home Office during the application process;
- facilitating the assignment of the CoS;
- and completing the application form to a highly professional standard before submitting it.
For more information, contact us now on or make an enquiry online to receive expert advice on your options from one of our immigration lawyers.
Where one of the below applies, you will need to apply to update your Skilled Worker visa (or Tier 2 (General) visa):
- You want to change your job and your new job is with a different employer
- Your job changes to a different occupation code and you are not on a graduate training programme
- You leave a job which is on the Shortage Occupation List for a job which is not on this list
Your new job will still need to meet the Skilled Worker eligibility requirements, and you will need a new Certificate of Sponsorship to prove this.
However, you won’t be required to send in evidence again if you’ve been in the UK for more than a year.
You can submit an application to update your Skilled Worker visa up to three months before your new job start date. You may continue working in your current job whilst the application is being considered.
Points-based Immigration System
The new Skilled Worker visa is based on a points-based immigration system.
A Skilled Worker applicant must score at least 70 points on the points-based system to be eligible for the visa. An applicant can accrue points through their level of education and an occupation that is on the Occupation Shortage List.
The ‘mandatory’ points are as follows:
- Offer of a job from a UK company that holds a sponsorship license (20 points)
- Job at the appropriate skill level (20 points)
- English-language ability at the level of B1 (10 points)
- If the job is offering a salary of at least £25,600 per year or at the going rate (whichever is higher) (20)
However, tradeable points enable you to reach the 70-point threshold without necessarily having a salary of at least £25,600.
The tradeable points work as follows:
- A salary of at least £20,480 to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is highest): 0 points
- A salary of at least £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is highest): 10 points
- A salary of £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession (whichever is highest): 20 points
- Job is in a shortage occupation: 10 points
- PhD is in a subject relevant to the job: 10 points
- PhD is in a STEM subject relevant to the job: 20 points (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics)
Note that for jobs in healthcare and education, the salary rules are different. The going rates for these jobs are set by the relevant independent body.
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You can make a change of employment while in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa. However, you must obtain a new Certificate of Sponsorship from your new sponsor, and meet all the points requirements.
A change of employment application is also required if you remain with the same employer, but there is a change to your core duties, translating into a change of job.
If necessary, your sponsor may be required to carry out a new Labour Market Test.
The length of time you can stay in the UK varies. The maximum amount of time you can stay in the UK on the Skilled Worker visa is 5 years and 14 days or the time given on your Certificate of Sponsorship plus 1 month.
If you wish to stay in the UK longer than this then you will have to apply for a Skilled Worker visa extension, you should also make sure that any dependents are included on your extension application.
If you overstay without applying for an extension then you could risk being deported by the Home Office.
Yes, you are allowed to undertake supplementary employment but it must either be:
- A job included on the Shortage Occupation List or a role in the same profession and at the same professional level as the work.
- No more than 20 hours per week
- Outside of the regular working hours of your primary occupation.
You can also undertake unpaid voluntary work in any sector. If you wish to work more than one job and it doesn’t fall under these categories then you will have to apply for another visa and have the organisation sponsor you.
To be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa, you will normally need to have a job offer with a salary of at least £30,000 or the “appropriate rate” for the job you are offered – whichever is higher.
The salary requirement may be lower if you are a graduate or are eligible for the starter salary rate.
To be eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa to work in the United Kingdom you will need at least £945 in your bank account 90 days before you apply.
Your sponsor can cover this cost for you but they must confirm this on the certificate of sponsorship
If you are bringing dependents you will also need to prove you have savings to support them financially as well.
The COVID-19 has had a significant impact globally and is a worrying time for many. If you are concerned, take a look at our Coronavirus guide for Skilled Worker visa holders.
The Tier 2 General visa is no longer part of the UK’s immigration system. Instead a new visa, that is part of the new points-based immigration system, has replaced it. The application for the Skilled Worker route is very similar to the previous Tier 2 Route. The main change is that now, citizens of the EU are also required to apply for permission to stay in the UK and work.