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Switching from the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme to the Skilled Worker Route

Under the new Skilled Worker route in the new Points Based System, which will come into effect on 1 December 2020 at 9am, Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Migrants are able to switch into the Skilled Worker route. This is a welcome change to the Immigration Rules. 

Under the prior Points Based System, Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Migrants were generally unable to switch from inside the country into the Tier 2 (General) category. This meant that many under the scheme who had obtained jobs in the UK whilst here as a Tier 5 (YMS) Migrant, were required to return back to their country of origin, in order to submit an application to enter the UK as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant. 

Switching from the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme to the Skilled Worker Route

However, the only immigration status requirement under the new points based system is as follows: 

SW 1.5. An applicant who is applying for permission to stay must be in the UK on the date of application and must not have, or have last been granted, permission:

(a) as a Visitor; or

(b) as a Short-term student; or

(c) as a Parent of a Child Student; or

(d) as a Seasonal Worker; or

(e) as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or

(f) outside the Immigration Rules.

This is much wider than the previous requirement in which only the following categories were permitted to switch: 

  • a Tier 1 Migrant;
  • a Tier 2 Migrant;
  • a Representative of an Overseas Business;
  • a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Migrant;
  • the partner of a Relevant Points Based System Migrant if the relevant Points Based System Migrant is a Student;
  • a Start-up migrant;
  • an Innovator; and
  • a Global Talent migrant.

Requirements to Switch from the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme to the Skilled Worker Route

In order to switch from the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) to the Skilled Worker Route, applicants will need to meet the following requirements:

  • They are aged 18 or over;
  • They have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job they are planning to do;
  • The job offer is for a genuine vacancy; 
  • The Sponsor has paid any required Immigration Skills Charge;
  • The job is at the appropriate skill level; and
  • The Applicant will be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both a general salary threshold and the ‘going rate’ for the occupation.

Applicants cannot fall for the grounds for refusal, and must meet the English language and maintenance requirements. 

There are also routes for dependent partners and children of Skilled Workers.

Genuine vacancy 

The Resident Labour Market Test will be dispensed with under the new Immigration Rules. However, the Sponsor will still be required to satisfy the Home Office that the role is a genuine vacancy and that the Applicant is genuinely capable of undertaking the role for which the Certificate of Sponsorship has been assigned. 

If there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job the Applicant is being sponsored for does not exist, is a sham or has been created so that the Applicant can apply for a Skilled Worker visa, then this is not a genuine vacancy and the application will be refused. 

Appropriate skill level and occupation codes 

Under the Skilled Worker route, the role must be skilled to at least RQF level 3, which is roughly equivalent to A levels. It should be noted that the Applicant need not actually possess a formal qualification to meet the skill level, it is the role itself that must meet this minimum skill level. This a reduction from the Tier 2 skill level which was RQF level 6, which is equivalent to degree level. 

The Home Office has determined which job roles meet this skill level, giving eligible jobs an occupation code which will be listed in Appendix Occupation Code. Applicants must be sponsored for a job in an eligible occupation code listed in the Appendix.  The occupation code will also set out the salary threshold for that code. 

It is imperative that occupation codes are chosen carefully using the job description for the vacancy.  In assessing whether the 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, and whether the successful candidate has the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed.  If the Home Office, in determining the application, has reasonable grounds to believe that the Sponsor has not chosen the most appropriate occupation code, the application will be refused.

Salary Threshold

The general salary threshold under the Skilled Worker route is £25,600 a year. In most cases an applicant for a Skilled Worker visa must be paid a salary which equals or exceeds £25,600 a year and 100% of the going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher. The assessment will be based on guaranteed gross pay. 

Some sponsored skilled workers applying under the Skilled Worker route may be paid less than the above amount, where they can be awarded ‘tradable’ points for other attributes, including:

  • Applicants with PhD qualifications relevant to the job. Such Applicants may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £23,040 per year and 90% of the going rate for the occupation code;
  • Applicants with PhD qualifications 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;
  • Applicants undertaking roles which appear on the shortage occupation list. 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;
  • Applicants undertaking roles in a listed health or education occupation code. Such Applicants may be paid a salary of at least £20,480 per year and 80% of the going rate for the occupation code;
  • New entrants to the labour market. Such Applicants may be paid a salary of at least a salary of at least £20,480 per year and 70% of the going rate for the occupation code;

Accordingly, the exact amount an Applicant must be paid in this category will vary depending on the Applicant’s circumstances. 

Length of Grant after switching into the Skilled Worker category

As with all skilled workers, applicants switching from the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) to the Skilled Worker Route will, if successful, be granted permission to stay until 14 days after the end date of their certificate of sponsorship (which may be up to a maximum of 5 years after the start date of their certificate of sponsorship).

Eligibility to Settle after switching from the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme to the Skilled Worker Route

Once in the Skilled Worker route, migrants will be on a route settlement. They must have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK on this basis as they cannot combine their time in the UK on the Tier 5 (YMS) route to settle more quickly.

They will need to meet the other requirements for settlement, including knowledge of life in the UK, and the sponsorship, salary, validity and suitability requirements. 

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice on the new Skilled Worker category,  contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

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

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