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Skilled Worker Visa Salary Rates

Employers seeking to recruit under the Skilled Worker route must ordinarily pay their skilled workers a salary which equals or exceeds both a general salary threshold (£25,600) and 100% of the ‘going rate’ for the occupation (as set out in the relevant occupation code), whichever is higher. However, there are some exceptions to this. 

How much must a Skilled Worker Migrant be paid?

Are you a new entrant?

A new entrant to the labour market may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 70% of the going rate for the occupation. This is a significantly lower figure and will permit new entrants to be paid a lower salary.

You will automatically be considered a new entrant if you are under the age of 26. 

You can also be considered a new entrant if all of the following conditions apply:

  • Your most recent visa was as a Student (this category replaced the Tier 4 (General) category on 5 October 2020); and
  • That Student visa expired less than 2 years before the date of application; and
  • In that Student visa, or any previous Student visa, you were sponsored to study one of the following courses (not any other qualifications of an equivalent level): a UK bachelor’s degree; or a UK master’s degree; or a UK PhD or other doctoral qualification; or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education; or a Professional Graduate Diploma of Education; and
  • You completed (or are applying no more than 3 months before you are expected to complete) the course mentioned above, or you are studying a PhD and have completed at least 12 months study in the UK towards the PhD.

There are also a few other ways to qualify as a new entrant:

  • If you are in a postdoctoral position in any of the following occupation codes:
    • 2111 Chemical scientists;
    • 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists;
    • 2113 Physical scientists;
    • 2114 Social and humanities scientists;
    • 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified;
    • 2311 Higher education teaching professionals;
  • If your job offer is in a UK regulated profession and you are working towards a recognised professional qualification for that profession;
  • If you are working towards full registration or chartered status with the relevant professional body for the job in which you are being sponsored.

Are there any other ways to be paid less than £25,600 as a Skilled Worker?

If you do not qualify as a new entrant, you should note that an applicant with a job offer for a job in a shortage occupation may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 80% of the going rate for the occupation. Therefore, it is important to determine the appropriate occupation code for your role and to check whether it is on the Shortage Occupation List. 

If you have PhD qualifications relevant to the job, you can be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £23,040 per year and 90% of the going rate for the occupation code. If you have a PhD qualification in STEM subjects relevant to the job. Such Applicants may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 80% of the going rate for the occupation code.

What is included in salary? 

Salary only includes guaranteed basic gross pay (before income tax and including employee pension and national insurance contributions).

It does not include other pay and benefits, such as: 

  • pay which cannot be guaranteed because the nature of the job means that hours fluctuate
  • additional pay such as shift, overtime or bonus pay (whether or not guaranteed)
  • employer pension and employer national insurance contributions
  • allowances, such as accommodation or cost of living allowances
  • in-kind benefits, such as equity shares, health insurance, school or university fees, company cars or food
  • one-off payments
  • any payments relating to immigration costs, such as the fee or Immigration Health Charge
  • payments to cover business expenses, including (but not limited to) travel to and from the applicant’s country of residence, equipment, clothing, travel or subsistence

How do you calculate salary?

The Home Office will only consider your salary based on 48 hours per week towards the salary thresholds of £25,600, £23,040 or £20,480 per annum. Therefore, working more than 48 hours per week will not assist you to meet this requirement. 

The following example is given in the Rules: ‘an applicant who works 60 hours a week for £10 per hour will be considered to have a salary of £24,960 (£10 x 48 x 52) per year and not £31,200 (£10 x 60 x 52).’

Additionally, increasing hours will reduce your hourly rate. You must also meet the going rate for your occupation code, which will be pro-rated based on your work pattern. 

For example, the Occupation Code ‘3545 Sales accounts and business development managers’ has a going rate of £35,400 (£17.46 per hour), based on a 39 hour week. 

It is not on the shortage occupation list, and is not eligible for PhD points, so the only way the minimum salary threshold of £25,600 can be reduced, is if you are a new entrant. If so, you must be paid at least £20,480 and 70% of the going rate (which is £24,780 (£12.22 per hour)). 

If you are not a new entrant, then your salary can be reduced if you work fewer than 39 hours, but are still paid above £25,600. For example, if you work 30 hours per week at an hourly rate of £17.46, your annual pay will be £27,237.60, which is above the £25,600 required.

Can I choose a different Occupation Code?

Your sponsor must choose the most appropriate occupation code for the role.  If the Home Office has reasonable grounds to believe that your sponsor has not chosen the most appropriate occupation code your Skilled Worker Visa application will be refused. In assessing whether a 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 your sponsor’s history of compliance with the immigration system.

What are the other requirements?

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

  • You have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job you are planning to do;
  • Your job offer is a genuine vacancy;
  • 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.

Can I take unpaid leave?

A Skilled Worker cannot be absent from work without pay, or on reduced pay, for more than 4 weeks during any calendar year. If you are, your permission to enter or stay in the UK may be cancelled, unless the reason for absence is one of the following:

  • statutory maternity leave, paternity leave or parental leave; or
  • statutory adoption leave; or
  • sick leave; or
  • assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis, providing their sponsor agreed to the absence for that purpose; or
  • taking part in legally organised industrial action.

How much must I be paid to settle as a Skilled Worker?

Once in the Skilled Worker route, you will be on a route settlement. You must have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK on this basis.   

To settle, a Skilled Worker’s salary must be at least £25,600 per year and at least the going rate for the occupation code. 

There are only two exceptions to this. If an exception applies, your salary must be at least £20,480 per year and at least the going rate. 

Exception 1: the role is on the shortage occupation or a health or education occupation code

Exception 2: if your 5-year qualifying period for settlement includes time as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant in which you were sponsored for a job in one of the following occupation codes:

  • 2111 Chemical scientists
  • 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113 Physical scientists
  • 2114 Social and humanities scientists
  • 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2150 Research and development managers
  • 2311 Higher education teaching professionals

This means that new entrants must receive an increase in their salary to settle, if they are below the minimum threshold of £25,600 and do not fall within one of the above exceptions. 

If you are currently absent from work, or have returned to work in the month before the date of application and were absent for a permitted reason (listed above in relation to unpaid leave), consideration of your salary will be based on your salary when you return to work, as stated by your sponsor. 

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to an application to switch into the Skilled Worker Visa category please contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via the enquiry form below.

This article was co-written by Zoe Bantleman and Georgina Griggs.

SEE HOW OUR IMMIGRATION BARRISTERS CAN HELP YOU

To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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