UK Skilled Worker Visa

Those looking for a visa to work in the UK who have been offered a skilled job may be eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa.

Expert Guidance, Every Step of the Way

Ready to get started?

Table of contents

About The Skilled Worker Visa

The Skilled Worker Visa is a route under the Points Based System which allows workers to undertake skilled employment in the UK. It replaces what was known as the Tier 2 (General) Work Visa.

The Skilled Worker Visa offers those with specific roles in leading sectors and industries the opportunity to live and work in the UK and can be an eventual path towards Indefinite Leave To Remain.

Successful applicants will be able to stay in the UK for the period of employment stated on their Certificate of Sponsorship, up to a maximum period of 5 years, plus any time before the start date on the Certificate of Sponsorship and 14 days after the end date. Therefore, the duration of your visa can vary depending on your circumstances.

Skilled Worker Visa Requirements

As with all visas, you must meet certain requirements in order to have your application accepted. Skilled workers are workers in competitive fields that benefit the UK and its economy. Your workplace must vouch for you through sponsorship and your role must be a ‘genuine vacancy’. To meet the requirements, you must:

  • Be aged 18 or over
  • Have been offered a qualifying skilled job in the UK
  • Ensure the company has a valid sponsor licence
  • Have the suitable experience and skills for the position
  • Be offered a minimum and ‘appropriate’ salary
  • Have the required level of English (CEFR level B1)
  • Have £1,270 in your bank account for 28 days before you apply, unless your Sponsor can certify maintenance, or you have been in the UK for longer than 12 months
  • Have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed sponsor company before you can apply. The work you do in the UK must relate to the work of your sponsor organisation
  • Provide a criminal record certificate, if required
  • Provide a valid TB certificate, if required

Skilled jobs eligibility

In order to be eligible for this type of visa, you must have an offer of employment from what can be considered a skilled job. There are a variety of requirements a role must meet in order to be considered a skilled job, but the general requirements tend to be based on your salary and whether you have an approved UK employer.

You must be employed by an employer from the UK that has been approved by the Home Office, has a valid sponsor licence and is willing to sponsor you. If they do not yet have an Employer Sponsorship Licence, they may be able to apply for one.

If your employer has a Sponsor Licence, you can check with them whether your job meets the eligibility requirements, in which case you would receive a Certificate of Sponsorship. You must submit your Skilled Worker Visa application within 3 months of receiving this certificate.

Additionally, to be eligible, your job role must fall under one of the occupational codes specified by the Home Office. The occupational codes are based on job categories that are eligible and are usually 4-digit occupation codes that describe the nature of your work. For assistance with this, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of expert lawyers.

Salary requirements

Initial applications with Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued from 4 April 2024:

The typical salary requirement for a skilled job is either £38,700 per year, or the ‘going rate’ for the type of work you’ll be doing – whichever option is higher. The going rate will depend on the occupational code your role falls under and whether any reductions would be applicable based on your circumstances.

There are situations where you may be eligible even if you are paid less, if your job is listed under the Immigration Salary List in the UK due to skills shortage in the industry. New Entrants to the labour market may qualify with a slightly lower salary as well. In some cases, you may still be eligible if your salary is at least £30,960 per year. Eligible jobs need to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You are under 26 and are either studying, recently graduated or in professional training
  • You have a postdoctoral position in higher education or science
  • You have a qualification at PhD level that is relevant to your job in science, technology, engineering or maths – any other subject may raise the salary requirements
  • Your occupation is in the Immigration Salary List

Please note that if you work in some education or healthcare jobs, there are different salary rules based on national pay scales. For Health & Care Visa occupations on the Immigration Salary List, the income threshold would be the higher of either £23,200 or the occupation going rate. This lower salary threshold applies to national pay scale occupations such as qualifying NHS, Teachers or Education professionals, but again you must also be paid at least the appropriate rate set by the national pay scale for that role or salary band.

Extensions for those with CoS issued before 4 April 2024: You may benefit from ‘Legacy’' rules where you may rely on the previous (lower) salary rates of at least £29,000 or the going rate, whichever is higher. This 'Legacy' concession will be available until 4 April 2030, as most Skilled Worker migrants who benefit should have applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) by then.

Financial requirements

Alongside the salary requirements for the skilled job, you will need to prove that you can support yourself while living in the UK, without the need for public funds. You will need to show you have had at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 days in a row, the last day being within 31 days of applying for the Skilled Worker Visa.

If you have any dependants, you will need to show additional funds for each of them:

  • £285 for your partner
  • £315 for one child
  • £200 for each additional child

The financial requirements may not apply to you if you either:

  • Have been in the UK with a valid visa for 12 months or more
  • Have an employer who can cover your costs during the first month in the UK (up to £1,270)

If the employer is supporting you instead, the appropriate section of the Certificate of Sponsorship should be filled to clearly state this.

Knowledge of English

You may have to prove your knowledge of English during your application. This is usually done by either:

  • Having a qualification that was taught or researched in English
  • Having a GCSE, A level, SNQ level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English. You must have begun school in the UK when you were under 18
  • Passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider

If opting for test, you must achieve a level B1 or higher on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. Please note that if you have gained qualifications aboard, you may need to get your documents certified through Ecctis (formerly UK Naric) to confirm the UK equivalence of your degree.

There are some cases when you may not have to provide evidence of your knowledge of English. This includes doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists and vets that have already passed an assessment as part of their relevant professional body regulation, as well as nationals from the following countries:

  • 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

Applying For a Skilled Worker Visa

All applications are made online on the Home Office’s website. It’s important to ensure that you have all the required documents before starting the process. There are differences in how you apply depending on whether you are applying from outside the UK, or if you are applying from within the UK to extend or switch to this visa.

If your situation changes (i.e. if your employer or job changes) you will need to apply to update your Skilled Worker Visa.

When to apply

Applications should be made up to 3 months before coming to work in the UK.

If you are starting a new job and need to update your visa, you must also apply within 3 months of starting your new occupation.

Documents you will need to provide

During your application, you will be asked to provide documentation and evidence that can showcase that you are meeting all the requirements to be granted a Skilled Worker Visa. There are numerous variables depending on individual situations, therefore, it is highly recommended to seek legal help so you know you will have a strong case that has been reviewed by an expert in UK immigration law.

Some of the documents you may include in your application are:

  • An identity document such as a passport, or a biometric residence permit, if you have one
  • A Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer
  • Proof of knowledge of English, if applicable
  • Evidence that you meet the financial requirements and can support yourself and any dependants
  • A tuberculosis test, depending on which country you are applying from
  • Your criminal record certificate, if applicable

Skilled Worker Visa costs

The cost of a Skilled Worker Visa depends on your situation.

If you are applying from outside the UK, you will pay £719 if staying in the UK for up to 3 years, or £1,420 if you are staying more than 3 years. Please note this cost is per-person.

If you are applying from within the UK to update, switch or extend your visa, you will need to pay £827 for a stay of up to 3 years, and £1,636 for more than 3 years.

If your job is on the Immigration Salary list, the fees are the same regardless of whether you are applying from outside or within the UK. The cost is £551 for up to 3 years and £1,084 for over 3 years.

If the application is submitted on or before 25 February 2022, nationals from the following countries will also benefit from a reduction of £55 on their application (this will be automatically taken into account during your application):

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

You and your dependants may need to pay the healthcare surcharge, which is usually £1,035 per year per person. You can check how much you will need using the Home Office’s IHS calculator.

There may also be additional costs associated with Biometric enrolment as well as additional costs incurred by language tests or certified translators. These should be added to the total cost of the visa.

You should also consider legal fees if you wish to hire immigration lawyers for your case. By ensuring that your case is well presented and includes all relevant evidence, you considerably increase your chances of being granted a visa on the first try, which will save you time and money.

Bringing your Family & Unmarried Partner on a Skilled Worker Visa

Those applying for a Skilled Worker Visa may be able to bring dependants (partner and children) in the UK, if they are eligible. If applying from outside the UK, each family member will need to fill in a separate application and pay the fee.

You and your partner must either be:

  • In a civil partnership or marriage (recognised in the UK)
  • Living together and in a relationship for 2 years at the time of the application
  • In a relationship for at least 2 years when applying, and have good reasons on why you have not been able to live together (e.g. work, study, cultural or religious reasons etc.)

Children under 18 may be added to your application as dependants, including if they were born in the UK during your stay. Children over 18 may still be included in your application if they have existing dependent status.

If your child is 16 or older, they must:

  • Live with you
  • Not be married or in a civil partnership
  • Not have children of their own
  • Be financially supported by you

You may need to provide evidence during your application. Such evidence may include identification documents, bank statements, NHS registration documents or official letters from university/college.

When applying for an extension or switching to this visa, your dependants may choose to apply at the same time as you, or at any time before their current visa expires.

Extending a Skilled Worker Visa

If you wish to extend your stay, you may apply to extend your Skilled Worker Visa if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are still working in the same job as when you were previously given permission to enter or stay in the UK
  • Your job is in the same occupation code
  • You are still working for the employer who provided your Certificate of Sponsorship

Applications must be made online before your current visa expires. Dependants can choose to apply to extend their visa at the same time as you, or at any point before the end of their visa.

Please note that extensions are not intended for those who have changed jobs, in which case you would need to apply to update your current visa instead.

Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa

If you are already in the UK on a different visa, you may be able to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa, provided that you meet all the eligibility requirements.

However, you cannot switch to this visa if you:

  • Are on a short-term Student Visa, or Parent of a Child Student Visa
  • Are on a Visit Visa
  • Are on a Seasonal Worker Visa
  • Are on a Domestic Worker in Private Household Visa
  • Are on immigration bail
  • Were given permission to stay outside of immigration rules (on compassionate grounds, for example)

If you fall into any of these categories, you would need to leave the UK and apply from abroad.

If your visa has been refused

When getting a refusal from the Home Office, you will receive a letter explaining why your visa application was refused. Any documents kept as part of the application would also be returned to you.

Refusals are often caused by applications that are either missing evidence, presenting evidence that is weak or unclear.

The refusal letter will explain whether you have the right to appeal the decision or ask for an Administrative Review. Depending on your circumstances, one or the other may apply.

In either case, it’s important to move fast if you wish to appeal or ask for a review of your case. Working with immigration law experts such as QC Immigration will ensure that your appeal or review is thoroughly reviewed and give you the best chance of obtaining a positive decision.

How QC Immigration can help

With differing salary and income requirements as well as a grey area surrounding what is and is not an applicable skilled job, it is highly advised to work alongside lawyers such as QC Immigration to build a strong case and ensure a successful Skilled Worker Visa application.

An example of this being apparent is through Chefs and Cooks. Chefs are eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa, while cooks are not despite similar job titles and descriptions.

If you think you are eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa you can email us at info@qc-immigration.com or you could book a consultation with our skilled lawyers who will help you build your case.

For something as potentially life-changing as residence in the UK, it is advisable to consult with a team of experts who will assist you put forth your best case in order to give you as great a chance of success as possible.

At QC Immigration our London-based team of experienced professionals who have specialised in immigration law have worked with thousands of individual cases with unique requirements and factors. We are equipped with the knowledge and the resources to build your best possible application for a Skilled Worker Visa.

FAQ

Can I extend a Skilled Worker Visa?

Link to open QC Immigration job description

Can I change jobs under a Skilled Worker Visa?

Link to open QC Immigration job description

How long can I stay in the UK under a Skilled Worker Visa?

Link to open QC Immigration job description

Can I bring my family with me to the UK?

Link to open QC Immigration job description

What can I do on a Skilled Worker Visa?

Link to open QC Immigration job description

How can I apply for the Skilled Worker Visa?

Link to open QC Immigration job description