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UK SKILLED WORKER VISA

UK SKILLED WORKER VISA

The UK Skilled Worker Visa is open to individuals of all nationalities who have an offer of an eligible skilled job in the UK from a Home Office-approved sponsor.  The route can lead to settlement and applicants can be joined by dependent partners and children.

In order to secure a UK Skilled Worker Visa you will need to be sponsored to do a specific job, which meets certain skill and salary requirements, by an employer that has been licensed by the Home Office. We have published separate guidance for UK employers considering applying for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence.

If you are interested in setting up a new business in the UK, or you own an existing UK business, you may be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa via self-sponsorship, that is by being sponsored by your own UK company. We have a published a separate page on the self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa.

There is no cap on the number of people who can enter the UK on the Skilled Worker route.

Requirements for a UK Skilled Worker Visa

In order to qualify for a UK Skilled Worker Visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You are aged 18 or over;
  • You have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job you are planning to do;
  • Your job offer is a genuine vacancy;
  • Your job is at an appropriate skill level;
  • You will be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both a general salary threshold and the ‘going rate’ for the applicable SOC 2020 occupation code;
  • Your sponsor has paid any required Immigration Skills Charge;
  • You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0);
  • You have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds;
  • You have provided a criminal record certificate, if required; and
  • You have provided a valid TB certificate, if required.

The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances.  You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.

To discuss your UK Skilled Worker Visa or Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence application with one of our immigration barristers, contact our Skilled Worker Route lawyers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Requirement

In order to obtain a UK Skilled Worker Visa you must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job you are planning to do.  Your Certificate of Sponsorship will need to have been issued by an employer that is authorised by the Home Office to sponsor the job in question under the Skilled Worker route.  Find out more about applying for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence or read some of our Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence success stories.

Your sponsor must be listed as A-rated on the Home Office’s register of licensed sponsors, unless you were last granted permission as a Skilled Worker and are applying to continue working for the same sponsor as in your last permission.

Your Certificate of Sponsorship must have been issued not more than 3 months before the date of your Skilled Worker application.

Your Certificate of Sponsorship must include certain mandatory information, including:

  • details of your name, job and salary;
  • a start date which is no more than 3 months after the date your Skilled Worker visa application;
  • confirmation that the Certificate of Sponsorship has not been used in a previous application which was either granted or refused and has not been withdrawn by the sponsor or cancelled by the Home Office;

Genuine Vacancy Requirement

In order to be granted a UK Skilled Worker Visa, you will need to satisfy the Home Office that you are being sponsored to undertake a genuine vacancy and are capable of undertaking the role for which your Certificate of Sponsorship has been assigned.

If there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job you are being sponsored to do does not exist, is a sham or has been created mainly so that you can apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa then your application will be refused.

The Home Office will also want to be satisfied that you have not entered into an arrangement whereby you will fill a temporary or permanent position, or undertake contract work which involves undertaking an ongoing routine role or providing an ongoing routine service to a third party who is not your sponsor.

Immigration Skills Charge Requirement

Your sponsor must also have paid in full any required Immigration Skills Charge.

The Immigration Skills Charge is a charge for each foreign worker that a sponsoring employer seeks to employ.  The Immigration Skills Charge must be paid each time a sponsoring employer assigns a Certificate of Sponsorship to a migrant.

Appropriate Skill Level Requirement

In order to qualify for a UK Skilled Worker Visa, the job you are being sponsored for must be an eligible job at or above a minimum skill level.

Under the  UK Skilled Worker Visa route, the role you are looking to fill must be skilled to at least RQF level 3, which is roughly equivalent to A-levels. 

You do not need to hold a formal qualification in order to satisfy the skills level requirement. It is the skill level of the job that you will be doing that will determine whether the threshold is met. 

The Home Office sets out eligible jobs in Appendix Skilled Occupations and Appendix Immigration Salary List. Each eligible job has a SOC 2020 occupation code.  You must be sponsored for a job in an eligible SOC 2020 occupation code listed in either Appendix Skilled Occupations or Appendix Immigration Salary List (unless you are extending as a care worker or home carer, in which case different rules apply).

Your sponsor must choose an appropriate occupation code.  If the Home Office has reasonable grounds to believe that your sponsor has not chosen the most appropriate occupation code then your application for a Skilled Worker Visa will be refused.

In assessing whether your sponsor has chosen the most appropriate occupation code, the Home Office will consider factors such as whether they have shown a genuine need for the job as described, whether you have the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job as described and the sponsor’s history of compliance with the immigration system.

English Language Requirement

In order to qualify for a UK Skilled Worker Visa you will need demonstrate English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) to at least level B1 (intermediate).

Prospective employees applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as a Skilled Worker will satisfy the English language requirement if they:

  • Are a national of a majority English-speaking country;
  • Have passed a Secure English Language Test;
  • Have been awarded a degree taught in English;
  • Obtained a GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK; or
  • Have already shown they met the requirement, of level B1, in a previous successful application for entry clearance or permission to stay.

UK Skilled Worker Visa Minimum Salary Requirement

Employers seeking to recruit under the Skilled Worker route must (subject to being able to trade points as set out below) pay their skilled workers a salary which equals or exceeds both a general salary threshold and the ‘going rate’ for the applicable SOC 2020 occupation code.

The salary you receive as a Skilled Worker will therefore usually need to equal or exceed the following:

  • The general salary threshold – for most jobs this is £38,700 per year, but may be £34,830 or £30,960 per year if the worker scores ‘tradable points’ (see below). The exceptions to the above are as follows:
    • For workers previously granted permission as a Skilled Worker before 4 April 2024 and applying before 4 April 2030, the general salary threshold is £29,000, but may be £26,100 or £23,200 if the worker scores ‘tradable points’ (see below);
    • For workers sponsored for a Health and Care ASHE salary job, the general salary threshold is £29,000, but may be £26,100 or £23,200 if the worker scores ‘tradable points’ (see below);
    • For workers sponsored in a Health or Education SOC 2020 occupation code where going rates are based on national pay scales, the general salary threshold is £23,200 (see below); and
  • The applicable ‘going rate’ for the SOC 2020 occupation code in Appendix Skilled Occupations – or a percentage of the ‘going rate’ if the worker scores ‘tradable points’ (see below).

If the general salary threshold is higher than the going rate for the occupation, then you will need to be paid at least the general salary threshold.  If the general salary threshold is lower than the going rate for the occupation, then you will need to be paid at least the going rate.

The general salary threshold is calculated based on actual gross earnings, up to a maximum of 48 hours per week, unless the applicant is being sponsored to work on a pattern where the regular hours are not the same each week, resulting in uneven pay, in which case work in excess of 48 hours in some weeks can be considered towards the salary thresholds, providing the average over a regular cycle (which can be less than, but not more than, 17 weeks) is not more than 48 hours a week. Any unpaid rest weeks will count towards the average when considering whether the salary thresholds are met.

The going rate is calculated on the basis of a 37.5 hour working week. Going rates must be pro-rated based on the weekly working hours stated on the certificate of sponsorship (CoS).

Tradable points

Some sponsored skilled workers applying under the Skilled Worker route may be paid less than £38,700 per year, where they are awarded additional so-called ‘tradable points’ for other attributes:  

  • An applicant with a PhD qualification which is relevant to the job may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £34,830 per year and 90% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code;
  • An applicant with a PhD qualification in a STEM subject which is relevant to the job may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £30,960 per year and 80% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code;
  • An applicant with a job offer for a job on the Immigration Salary List may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £30,960 per year and the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code;
  • An applicant who is a new entrant to the labour market at the start of their career may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £30,960 per year and 70% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code.

Salary Requirements for Skilled Workers Granted Before 4 April 2024

Applicants who were granted permission as a Skilled Worker under the rules in place before 4 April 2024, have held permission as a Skilled Worker continuously since and apply for further leave before 4 April 2030 may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds the following:

  • The general salary threshold – for most jobs this is £29,000 per year, but may be £26,100 or £23,200 per year if the worker scores ‘tradable points’ (see below); and
  • The applicable ‘going rate’ for the SOC 2020 occupation code in Appendix Skilled Occupations – or a percentage of the ‘going rate’ if the worker scores ‘tradable points’ (see below).

Some Skilled Workers who were granted permission as a Skilled Worker under the rules in place before 4 April 2024 may be paid less than £29,000 per year, where they are awarded additional so-called ‘tradable points’ for other attributes:  

  • An applicant with a PhD qualification which is relevant to the job may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £26,100 per year and 90% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code;
  • An applicant with a PhD qualification in a STEM subject which is relevant to the job may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £23,200 per year and 80% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code;
  • An applicant with a job offer for a job on the Immigration Salary List may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £23,200 per year and the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code;
  • An applicant who is a new entrant to the labour market at the start of their career may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £23,200 per year and 70% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code.

Salary Requirements for Health and Care Visa Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) Applicants 

Applicants who are being sponsored for a Health and Care Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) job may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds the following:

  • The general salary threshold – for most jobs this is £29,000 per year, but may be £26,100 or £23,200 per year if the worker scores ‘tradable points’ (see below); and
  • The applicable ‘going rate’ for the SOC 2020 occupation code in Appendix Skilled Occupations – or a percentage of the ‘going rate’ if the worker scores ‘tradable points’ (see below).

Some sponsored Health and Care Workers applying for a Health and Care Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) job may be paid less than £29,000 per year, where they are awarded additional so-called ‘tradable points’ for other attributes:  

  • An applicant with a PhD qualification which is relevant to the job may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £26,100 per year and 90% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code;
  • An applicant with a PhD qualification in a STEM subject which is relevant to the job may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £23,200 per year and 80% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code;
  • An applicant with a job offer for a job on the Immigration Salary List may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £23,200 per year and the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code;
  • An applicant who is a new entrant to the labour market at the start of their career may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £23,200 per year and 70% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code.

Salary Requirements for Health and Education SOC 2020 Occupation Codes where Going Rates are Based on National Pay Scales 

Applicants who are being sponsored for a job in an eligible health and education SOC 2020 occupation code where going rates are based on national pay scales may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds the following:

  • The general salary threshold – £23,200 per year; and
  • The applicable ‘going rate’ for the SOC 2020 occupation code in Appendix Skilled Occupations.

Hourly Rates

For most SOC 2020 occupation codes, you will also need to be paid a minimum hourly rate of £15.88 per hour. This hourly rate requirement will apply even if you are eligible for a discount on the going rate based on tradable points and £15.88 is more than 70%, 80% or 90% of the stated going rate.

If you were previously granted permission as a Skilled Worker before 4 April 2024 and are applying before 4 April 2030 or you are a worker being sponsored for a Health and Care ASHE salary job then you will need to be paid a minimum hourly rate of £11.90 per hour. This hourly rate requirement will apply even if you are eligible for a discount on the going rate based on tradable points and £11.90 is more than 70%, 80% or 90% of the stated going rate.

If you are being sponsored in a Health or Education SOC 2020 occupation code where going rates are based on national pay scales, then you will not need to satisfy an hourly rate requirement.

What is the ‘Immigration Salary List’?

The Home Office maintains a list of skilled roles where employers find it difficult to secure adequate numbers of workers with the required skills to fill their vacancies.  As set out above, employers are able to recruit migrants to fill occupations on the Immigration Salary List on a salary below the general salary threshold. 

Skilled Worker eligible occupations that are on the Immigration Salary List may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £30,960 per year and the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code.  Meanwhile, occupations that are eligible for a Health and Care Worker visa (other than national pay scale occupations) and are on the Immigration Salary List may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £23,200 per year and the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code.

Who is a ‘New Entrant to the Labour Market’?

New entrants to the labour market include those under the age of 26 at the date of application (or switching from a Student or Graduate Visa), those sponsored in specified postdoctoral research positions and those working towards professional qualifications, registration or chartered status.  As set out above, if you qualify as a new entrant to the labour market then the salary threshold requirement will be reduced.

An applicant will not qualify as a new entrant if granting their application would result in their combined period of permission as a Skilled Worker, Tier 2 Migrant and/or Graduate exceeding 4 years in total.

UK Skilled Worker Visa Financial Requirement

Subject to the exemptions below, you will need to have cash funds of at least £1,270 available.

You will need to have held the money for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the date of your UK Skilled Worker Visa application.

You will be exempt from the financial requirement if you have a fully ‘A-rated’ sponsor who is willing to meet your maintenance costs up to the end of the first month of your employment, to an amount of at least £1,270, if necessary.  Your sponsor will need to confirm this on your Certificate of Sponsorship.

If you are applying for permission to stay and have been in the UK with permission for 12 months or more at the date of application, you will meet the financial requirement and will not need to show funds.

Criminal Record Certificate Requirement

If you are applying for entry clearance and being sponsored for certain jobs (broadly comprising jobs in the health, care, welfare and education sectors) then, unless it is not reasonably practical to do so, you will need to provide a criminal record certificate for any country in which, since the age of 18, you have been present for 12 months or more (whether continuously or in total) in the 10 years before the date of your application.

Do Sponsors Need to Complete a Resident Labour Market Test?

Unlike its predecessor route, there is no requirement for employers sponsoring skilled workers under the UK Skilled Worker Visa route to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT).  However, sponsors must still be seeking to fill a genuine vacancy.

Switching into the UK Skilled Worker Visa Route

If you currently have leave to remain in another immigration category, you may extend your stay by switching into the Skilled Worker route unless you have, or were last granted, permission as a Visitor, Short-term student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside the Immigration Rules. 

If you have, or last had, permission as a Student, you will only be able to switch into the Skilled Worker route if you fulfil one of the following conditions:

  • You have completed the course of study for which your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies was assigned; or
  • You are studying a full-time course of study at degree level or above with a higher education provider which has a track record of compliance and your Certificate of Sponsorship has a start date no earlier than the course completion date; or
  • You are studying a full-time course of study leading to the award of a PhD with a higher education provider which has a track record of compliance and your Certificate of Sponsorship has a start date no earlier than 24 months after the start date of the course.

Is There a Cooling off Period in the Skilled Worker Route?

Under its predecessor route, those applying for entry clearance or to switch into the Tier 2 (General) route had to have not been in the UK as a Tier 2 (General) migrant during the past 12 months.  Under the Skilled Worker route, the 12-month ‘cooling off period’ has been removed.  There is no restriction on when applications to enter the UK Skilled Worker Visa route can be made.

Duration of a UK Skilled Worker Visa

If your application for a UK Skilled Worker Visa is approved you will be granted entry clearance or permission to stay for a period ending 14 days after the end date of your Certificate of Sponsorship (which may be up to a maximum of 5 years after the start date of your Certificate of Sponsorship).

Is There a Maximum Time in the UK Skilled Worker Route?

Under the former Tier 2 (General) route, those applying for entry clearance or to switch into the route had to satisfy a requirement to spend a maximum of six years in the route. 

Under the Skilled Worker route, the six-year maximum length of stay in the route has been removed. There is no restriction on the length of stay. 

Conditions of Stay as a UK Skilled Worker

Skilled Worker Visa holders are permitted to work in the job they have been sponsored for.  They may also undertake supplementary employment provided they continue to work in the job for which they are being sponsored. Study is also permitted, subject to the condition to provide an ATAS Certificate where required.  Access to public funds is not permitted.

Settlement as a Skilled Worker

In order to qualify for Settlement as a Skilled Worker, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK;
  • The 5-year continuous period consisted of time with permission on any of, or any combination of, the following routes: Skilled Worker, Global talent,  Innovator Founder, T2 Minister of Religion, International Sportsperson, Representative of an Overseas Business , Tier 1 Migrant (other than as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant) or Scale-up;
  • You have not been outside for more than 180 days during each year of the 5-year continuous period;
  • You have passed the Life in the UK test (unless aged 65 or over); 
  • Your sponsor is still a Home Office approved sponsor;
  • Your sponsor still requires you to work for them for the foreseeable future;
  • You are being, and will be paid for the foreseeable future, at least the general salary threshold or the going rate for settlement as a Skilled Worker, whichever is higher.

Dependants of Skilled Workers

Skilled Workers may be joined or accompanied by a dependent partner over the age of 18 and/or or a dependent child under the age of 18.

How Our Immigration Barristers Can Help

Our team of business immigration barristers has experience in assisting employers and skilled workers across a variety of industries in companies of all sizes. Our barristers can help you with planning to ensure that you meet your start date and ensure that your career progression will fit your immigration goals.  Our business immigration barristers also assist UK employers to obtain Skilled Worker sponsor licences, maintain their licence at the highest rating and comply with their sponsor duties.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to skilled workers as part of a professional and friendly service.

We can also assist with

  • Applications for Settlement as a UK Skilled Worker

    In order to qualify for Settlement as a Skilled Worker, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

    • You have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK;
    • The 5-year continuous period consisted of time with permission on any of, or any combination of, the following routes: Skilled Worker, Global talent,  Innovator Founder, T2 Minister of Religion, International Sportsperson, Representative of an Overseas Business , Tier 1 Migrant (other than as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant) or Scale-up;
    • You have not been outside for more than 180 days during each year of the 5-year continuous period;
    • You have passed the Life in the UK test (unless aged 65 or over); 
    • Your sponsor is still a Home Office approved sponsor;
    • Your sponsor still requires you to work for them for the foreseeable future;
    • You are being, and will be paid for the foreseeable future, at least the general salary threshold or the going rate for settlement as a Skilled Worker, whichever is higher.
  • Fresh applications, Administrative reviews and Judicial reviews for UK Skilled Workers

    If your application for entry clearance, leave to remain or settlement as a UK Skilled Worker has been refused, our immigration barristers can advise on the merits of making a fresh application or challenging the decision.

    If the decision-maker failed to apply the Immigration Rules or Home Office policy correctly, we can bring Administrative Review proceedings to challenge the decision.

    If the decision to refuse your application was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper, our immigration barristers can apply for Judicial Review and provide representation at Judicial Review hearings.

  • Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence Applications

    In order to secure a Skilled Worker visa, applicants need to be sponsored to do a specific job, which meets certain skill and salary requirements, by an employer that holds a valid Skilled Worker sponsor licence.

    In order to successfully apply for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, your employer will need to satisfy various general and route-specific requirements.

    Our business immigration barristers assist UK employers to obtain the right sponsor licence, maintain their licence at the highest rating and comply with their sponsor duties.

    Whether you require an assessment of your prospects of successfully applying for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, advice on the correct company-related documentation to provide in support of a Skilled Worker sponsor licence application or assistance with drafting a compelling business case that will satisfy the Home Office that you meet the requirements for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, our immigration barristers can manage your Skilled Worker sponsor licence application on your behalf.

WHAT CAN WE HELP YOU WITH?

To discuss your UK Skilled Worker Visa application with one of our immigration barristers, contact our business immigration team on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.




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