What is the Skilled Worker visa?

The Skilled Worker route allows certain professionals to live and work in the UK for up to 5 years at a time. To be eligible, they need to be sponsored to do a specific skilled job for an employer approved by the Home Office.

This visa has replaced the Tier 2 Work visa.

Skilled Worker visa requirements

Applicants for the UK Skilled Worker visa must have a job offer in an eligible skilled occupation from a Home Office licensed sponsor. They must be paid a minimum salary that can be either £25,600 per year, £10.10 per hour, or the annual going rate for the type of work that they’ll be doing.

If the applicant works in some healthcare or education jobs, their going rate will be based on national pay scales.

Skilled Worker visa certificate of sponsorship requirement

A skilled worker eligible for the UK Skilled Worker visa will need a certificate of sponsorship. 

The certificate of sponsorship is an electronic record with a reference number that applicants must submit along with their application. The applicant’s employer is responsible of providing him or her with this certificate. 

After the date of issue, the certificate is valid for 3 months. 

UK Skilled Worker visa English language requirement

The applicant for the UK Skilled Worker visa must have English language skills equivalent to level B1 of the Common European Framework of References for English language in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening).

The applicant for the UK Skilled Worker visa doesn’t need to prove their English skills if they’ve already stayed in the UK with another visa, or if they come from a majority English speaking country, such as:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

Applicants can also be exempt from proving their English skills if they have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or a Ph.D. in the UK or other majority-English-speaking country. 

If that’s not the case, the applicant must pass an English test at a Secure English Language Test center, which has been approved by the Secretary of State and has provided their unique reference number for the test.

Conditions of the UK Skilled Worker Visa

UK Skilled Worker visa holders are subject to certain conditions:

  • They can only do the job they’ve been sponsored to do, plus voluntary work and extra work in the same occupation code and at the same skill level or in a shortage occupation for no more than 20 hours a week.
  • They must have no access to public funds (such as a State Pension).
  • They can study, although in some cases, an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate may be needed for that.

Skilled Worker visa fees

The standard fee ranges from £625 to £1,423. It depends on how much time the applicant will be staying in the UK. The Skilled Worker visa allows successful applicants to stay in the UK for up to 5 years, but they can choose to spend less time in the UK.

If they want to stay in the UK for up to 3 years, the application fee is £625 per person. If they want to stay in the UK for more than 3 years, the application fee is £1,235 per person.

To extend, switch, or update the visa, the fees are £719 per person (up to a 3-year stay) or £1,423 per person (more than 3 years).

If the applicant will do a job on the shortage occupation list, fees are reduced to £479 (if they’re staying for up to 3 years) and £943 (if they’re staying for more than 3 years). 

Plus, the applicant must cover the immigration healthcare surcharge, which is usually £624 per year. They must also have at least £1,270 available in a bank account for 28 days in a row to show that they can support themselves when they arrive in the UK. 

How to apply for a Skilled Worker visa

The application must be done online. Applicants will be required to present a passport or other document that proves their identity and nationality. They may be able to scan these documents through the UK Immigration: ID Check app, or they could need to visit a visa application center in person to provide biometric information. 

The UK Skilled Worker visa can be requested up to 3 months before the date that the applicant is due to start work in the UK. The date can be found in the applicant’s certificate of sponsorship. 

Required documents for UK Skilled Worker visa

Apart from identity documents, the applicant for the UK Skilled Worker visa will be required to submit:

  • A certificate of sponsorship with a valid reference number.
  • Proof of the applicant’s knowledge of the English language.
  • The job’s occupation code, title, and annual salary.
  • The applicant’s employer’s name and sponsor license number.
  • Financial evidence of personal savings (£1,270), for example, a bank statement.

Nationals of certain countries will also be required to submit a tuberculosis test. 

Skilled workers eligible for certain jobs could be asked for a criminal record certificate. 

UK Skilled Worker visa holders’ family

Certain family members of UK Skilled Worker visa holders can apply to join them in the UK. These are:

  • Wife, husband, civil partner, or an unmarried partner who has been living with the applicant for at least 2 years.
  • Children under 18 years old.
  • Children over 18 years old if they live with the applicant, depend financially on them, and do not have their own partner and children.

Family members must be able to support themselves while they’re in the UK, that’s why they will need to have a minimum of £285 for the partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child for 28 days in a row. 

Plus, they must pay their own UK Skilled Worker visa application fees because they must apply separately from the main applicant. They should also prove their identities and their relationship with the main applicant. 

How to extend the Skilled Worker route visa

 UK Skilled Worker visa holders can extend their visa if, at the time of expiration, they keep the same job in the same occupation code and they keep working for the same employer that issued their certificate of sponsorship. 

As long as they meet these requirements, the UK Skilled Worker visa holders can extend their visa as many times as they please for 5 years at a time. However, after the first 5 years, they are also able to apply to settle permanently in the UK. 

Application for extension must be done online before the current  UK Skilled Worker visa expires.

How to switch to the UK Skilled Worker visa from other visas

Switching to this visa is possible if the applicant meets the eligibility requirements and hasn’t spent time in the UK as a visitor, short-term student, parent of a child student, domestic worker in a private household, seasonal worker, on immigration bail, or outside normal immigration rules (for example, on compassionate grounds). 

If the applicant has had any of these visas recently, they must apply for the  UK Skilled Worker visa  from abroad.

Receiving decision on Skilled Worker visa

On average, receiving decision the first time that someone applies for  the UK Skilled Worker visa from abroad takes up to 3-4 weeks.

People who are applying to extend this visa or to switch to it from another visa can expect to receive a decision within 8 weeks from the application date.

Frequently asked questions about UK Skilled Worker visa

  1. Can I apply for this visa if my job pays less than £25,600 or below its going rate?
  • This is possible for people with a postdoctoral position in science or higher education, skilled workers who do jobs in shortage occupation, applicants under 26 years old who’ve recently graduated or are in professional training, or professionals with a STEM PhD level qualification that’s relevant for the job they’ll be doing in the UK. However, they must still earn at least £20,480 per year or at least £10.10 per hour to be considered for the exemption. 
  1. Can I change jobs while I’m in the UK with the Skilled Worker visa?
  • No. If you change your job or your employer, you must update your visa. To do this, your new job must meet the eligibility requirements and your new employer must issue a certificate of sponsorship for you.
  1. How can my family link their application to mine?
  • They will need to add your application number to their own application. This number is called Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN) and can be found in emails and letters from the Home Office.
  1. Can I travel abroad with this visa?
  • You can travel abroad and return to the UK as you wish, provided that there isn’t an application for extending, switching, or updating your visa in progress.
  1. What is an indefinite leave to remain?
  • It is your right to settle permanently in the UK after you meet the requirements to do so. One of these requirements is to spend 5 years in the UK, which the Skilled Worker visa allows you to do. 
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