Discover everything you need to know about the UK Skilled Worker Visa, including requirements, the application process, and useful tips for a successful application. Our comprehensive guide will help you navigate the complexities of obtaining this visa, enabling you to build a fulfilling career in the UK.
Table of Contents
Brief Introduction to Skilled Worker Visa UK
The Skilled Worker Visa is designed for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and non-EEA nationals who wish to work in the UK in a specific skilled job. They must be sponsored by a Home Office licensed sponsor. It is important to note that references to EEA nationals in this document include Swiss nationals but exclude Irish nationals, who have a unique status in the UK under Section 3ZA of the Immigration Act 1971.
Detailed Overview of Appendix Skilled Worker Visa UK
The Appendix Skilled Worker Visa UK outlines the various requirements that applicants must meet to qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK. These requirements are divided into three main categories:
a. Validity Requirements for Skilled Worker Visa UK
The validity requirements are outlined in paragraphs SW 1.1 to SW 1.6 of Appendix Skilled Worker. These criteria establish the minimum requirements that an applicant must meet for their application to be considered valid. For instance, the applicant must use the correct form and submit their identity documents. Applications that do not meet the validity requirements are deemed invalid and rejected.
b. Suitability Requirements for Skilled Work Visa UK
The suitability requirements are specified in paragraphs SW 2.1 to SW 2.2 of Appendix Skilled Worker. These requirements pertain to the applicant’s overall suitability for any type of permission, not specifically their qualification as a Skilled Worker. Applicants must not be subject to refusal on general grounds or be in violation of immigration laws. Applications that do not meet these requirements are refused.
c. Eligibility Requirements for Skilled Worker Visa UK
The eligibility requirements are detailed in paragraphs SW 3.1 to SW 16.2 of Appendix Skilled Worker. These requirements relate to the specific eligibility criteria that applicants must meet to qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa. Applications that do not meet these requirements are refused.
Get Expert Guidance for All Types of UK Visa and Immigration Applications, Reapplications, Refusals, and Appeals.
3. Job Offer and Sponsorship
Requirements for Skilled Worker Visa UK
To be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa, applicants must have a valid job offer from a UK employer who holds a Home Office-approved sponsorship license. The employer is responsible for assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the applicant. The CoS is a unique reference number that contains information about the job offer and the applicant’s personal details.
The job offer must meet the following criteria:
- The job must be classified as a genuine vacancy in an eligible skilled occupation.
- The job must be at or above the minimum skill level defined by the UK government (currently RQF level 3 or above).
- The applicant must be paid a salary that meets or exceeds the relevant minimum salary threshold or the “going rate” for their occupation, whichever is higher.
4. Points System
Skilled Worker Visa UK Points and Scoring Mechanism
To be eligible, Skilled Worker Visa applicants need to secure 50 mandatory points (for sponsorship, job, and English language skills) and 20 tradeable points (for salary and other attributes). In some cases (mainly entry clearance applications), applicants must also need to satisfy non-points requirements relating to tuberculosis testing, available funds, and criminal records certificates.
The points are awarded based on the following criteria:
- Sponsorship (20 points): Applicants must have a valid job offer from a Home Office-approved sponsor in an eligible skilled occupation.
- Job at Appropriate Skill Level (20 points): The job offer must be at or above the minimum skill level as defined by the UK government (currently RQF level 3 or above).
- English Language Requirement (10 points): Applicants must prove their knowledge of English by passing an approved English language test at the required level (currently CEFR level B1 or above).
- Salary Threshold (20 points): The salary offered must meet or exceed the relevant minimum salary threshold or the “going rate” for the occupation, whichever is higher.
- Other Attributes (0-20 points): Additional points can be awarded for various attributes, such as holding a PhD in a relevant field or working in a shortage occupation.
Please note that some points are mandatory, while others are tradeable. To qualify for the Skilled Worker Visa, applicants must score 50 points from the mandatory criteria (sponsorship, job at appropriate skill level, and English language requirement) and 20 points from the tradeable criteria (salary threshold and other attributes).
Tradeable Points Requirement – 20 Points for Skilled Worker Visa UK
In order for the Home Office to consider a UK Skilled Worker visa application, an applicant must score 50 mandatory points (for sponsorship, job at an appropriate level, and English language proficiency) and an additional 20 tradeable points based on salary requirements. The tradeable points are awarded under Options A to F.
To successfully apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa, sponsors must pay a minimum salary that is the highest of the following amounts for each tradeable points option:
- The relevant general threshold of £25,600, £23,040, £20,800, or £20,480, depending on the tradeable points option
- The going rate (with any permitted reductions in the case of Options B, C, D, and E), which is the minimum salary that applies to a specific occupation code according to Appendix Skilled Occupations
- A minimum of £10.10 per hour for Options A to E, even if this is higher than the going rate
Please note that the minimum hourly rate of £10.10 per hour for Options A to E does not apply to migrants in the UK who have continuous permission as a Skilled Worker and Tier 2 (General) before April 6, 2021.
If the salary is at least £25,600, £10.10 per hour, and the full pro-rated going rate under Option A, there is no need to consider other tradeable points options, such as:
- Option B and C: PhD qualification
- Option D: Shortage Occupation
- Option E: New Entrants
- Option F: Job in a Listed Health or Education Occupation
By meeting these salary and tradeable points requirements, applicants can optimize their chances of obtaining a UK Skilled Worker Visa.
5. English Language Requirement
Language Proficiency for Skilled Worker Visa UK
Applicants for the Skilled Worker Visa UK must demonstrate their English language proficiency by meeting the English language requirement. To do so, they must:
- Pass an approved English language test at the required level (CEFR level B1 or above) in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Approved tests include IELTS, Pearson, and others. Test results must be from a provider on the UK Home Office’s list of approved test providers.
- Hold a degree that was taught or researched in English and is recognized by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher. A UK NARIC statement of comparability will be required as evidence.
- Be a national of a majority English-speaking country, as defined by the UK Home Office.
6. Maintenance Funds
Financial Requirement and Economic Criteria for Skilled Worker Visa UK
Applicants for a Skilled Worker Visa UK must show that they have enough money to support themselves without recourse to public funds. This is referred to as the financial requirement or maintenance funds. Applicants can meet this requirement by:
- Having personal savings of at least £1,270 held for a consecutive 28-day period before applying for the visa. Bank statements or other proof of funds must be provided as evidence.
- Having their sponsor confirm on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) that they will provide the applicant with at least £1,270 to cover their first month in the UK.
Please note that dependents of the main applicant may also need to show additional maintenance funds.
7. Health and Tuberculosis Testing
Medical Requirements for Skilled Worker Visa UK
Applicants for a Skilled Worker Visa UK from certain countries must undergo a tuberculosis (TB) test at an approved clinic before submitting their visa application. A list of countries requiring TB testing can be found on the UK government website.
In addition, applicants must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of their application. The IHS grants applicants access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) during their stay. The cost of the IHS is £624 per year for adults and £470 per year for children under 18. The IHS must be paid for the entire duration of the visa.
8. Application Process and Required Documents
Skilled Worker Visa UK Procedure and Checklist
To apply for a Skilled Worker Visa UK, applicants need to follow these steps:
- Obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a UK employer with a valid sponsor license.
- Ensure they meet the English language requirement, financial requirement, and other eligibility criteria.
- Complete the online application form and upload the required documents.
- Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and visa application fee.
- Attend a biometric appointment to provide fingerprints and a digital photograph at a designated visa application center.
- Submit any required supporting documents, such as tuberculosis test results, bank statements, or English language test results.
Required documents for a Skilled Worker Visa UK application include:
- Valid passport or travel document
- Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
- Proof of English language proficiency
- Proof of financial requirement (maintenance funds)
- Tuberculosis test results (if applicable)
- UK NARIC statement of comparability (if using a non-UK degree to meet the English language requirement)
Criminal Records Certificate for Skilled Worker Visa UK
A Criminal Records Certificate is required for UK Skilled Worker Visa applicants applying for entry clearance and being sponsored in specific occupation codes (mostly related to Health, Education, and Social Work) listed in paragraph SW 16.1 of Appendix Skilled Worker.
Applicants must provide a criminal records certificate from any country they have resided in for 12 months or more (whether continuously or in total) in the 10 years prior to the application date, while aged 18 or over. If obtaining a certificate from any or all relevant authorities is not reasonably practicable, the requirement may not apply if the applicant provides a satisfactory explanation.
9. Processing Time and Fees
Skilled Worker Visa UK Duration and Costs
The standard processing time for a Skilled Worker Visa application is within 3 weeks or 15 working days for 90-95% of applicants. However, processing times may vary depending on the applicant’s country of residence and the complexity of the application.
Visa application fees for a Skilled Worker Visa depend on the length of the visa and whether the job is considered a shortage occupation. Fees are as follows:
- Up to 3 years: £479 (shortage occupation) or £625 (non-shortage occupation)
- More than 3 years: £943 (shortage occupation) or £1,235 (non-shortage occupation)
Please note that some applicants may qualify for a reduced fee or be exempt from the fee altogether.
The healthcare surcharge for each year of their stay – usually @ £624 per year. Once the Skilled Worker Visa UK is granted then migrants need to pay £19.20 for biometrics information (fingerprints and a photo) in the UK.
If the main applicant is a national of a country that is a signatory of the Council of Europe Social Charter (CESC), then are entitled to GBP55/- discount.
10. Conditions of Stay and Second Jobs
Regulations for Skilled Workers in the UK
Skilled Worker Visa holders in the UK have specific conditions and allowances for their stay, which include:
- Working for their sponsor in the job described in the Certificate of Sponsorship.
- Taking on a second job under certain circumstances (details provided below).
- Engaging in voluntary work.
- Studying, as long as it does not interfere with their sponsored job.
- Traveling abroad and returning to the UK.
- Bringing family members to the UK.
- Applying for permanent settlement (indefinite leave to remain) after living in the UK for five years and meeting eligibility requirements.
However, Skilled Worker Visa holders cannot apply for most public funds, the State Pension, or change jobs or employers without updating their visa.
Second Job Guidelines for Skilled Worker Visa UK Holders
Skilled Worker Visa UK holders must update their visa if they take on a second job that either:
- Exceeds 20 paid hours per week in addition to their sponsored job.
- Is in a different occupation code.
The second job must meet eligibility requirements, and the visa holder needs a new Certificate of Sponsorship. The applicant must also include a letter with their application explaining their intention to change their current permission to stay. This letter must state:
- The applicant’s name.
- The applicant’s date of birth.
- The current Certificate of Sponsorship reference number.
- The date when the current permission to stay expires.
If successful, the applicant will receive a new visa granting permission to work in both jobs. Note that updating the visa is not required if the second job is in the same occupation code or the applicant will work less than 20 paid hours per week.
11. Extending or Switching
Skilled Worker Visa UK Renewal and Conversion
Skilled Worker Visa holders can apply to extend their visa or switch to a different visa category, provided they continue to meet the eligibility requirements. To extend a Skilled Worker Visa, applicants must:
- Obtain a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from their employer, confirming ongoing employment and sponsorship.
- Continue to meet the English language, financial, and other eligibility requirements.
- Apply for the visa extension online and pay the required fees, including the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
To switch to a different visa category, applicants must meet the eligibility requirements for the new visa category and follow the application process for that specific visa. Examples of visa categories Skilled Worker Visa holders may switch to include the Innovator Visa, Start-up Visa, or Global Talent Visa.
Please note that applicants in the UK cannot switch to the Skilled Worker route if they have, or were last granted, permission as a:
- Short-Term Student
- Parent of a Child Student
- Seasonal Worker
- Domestic Worker in a Private Household
Additionally, migrants outside the Immigration Rules in the UK cannot switch to the Skilled Worker route.
12. Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
Permanent Status for Skilled Workers
To qualify for ILR, applicants must:
- Have held a Skilled Worker Visa UK or another eligible visa category for a continuous period of five years.
- Be earning the required minimum salary (currently £36,200 per year).
- Continue to meet the English language requirement.
- Pass the Life in the UK test, which assesses knowledge of British customs, culture, and history.
- Not have any criminal convictions or breaches of UK immigration law.
Once granted ILR, individuals can live and work in the UK without immigration restrictions and may eventually qualify for British citizenship.
A migrant on a Skilled Worker route can apply for settlement (ILR) after spending a continuous period of 5 years in the UK, which may include time spent with permission in any combination of the following routes:
- Skilled Worker
- Tier 2 General
- Global Talent
- T2 Minister of Religion / Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
- International Sportsperson / Tier 2 Sportsperson
- Representative of an Overseas Business
- Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur
- High-value migrants, such as Tier 1 Investor
- Tier 1 (General)
By including time spent under other eligible routes, applicants can meet the continuous residence requirement for ILR, enhancing their prospects for long-term settlement in the UK.
13. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Common Inquiries about Skilled Worker Visa UK
1. What is the duration of the Skilled Worker Visa UK?
The Skilled Worker Visa UK is generally valid for up to five years, depending on the length of the employment contract and the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by the employer.
2. Can I bring my family members with me on a Skilled Worker Visa UK?
Yes, you can bring your dependents (spouse, partner, or children under 18 years old) to the UK on a Skilled Worker Visa. Each dependent must apply for a dependent visa and fulfill the relevant eligibility requirements, such as financial maintenance and relationship proof.
3. Is it possible to switch employers while on a Skilled Worker Visa?
Yes, you can change employers while on a Skilled Worker Visa. However, you must first obtain a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your new employer and apply for a new Skilled Worker Visa before starting your new job. Your new employer must also be a Home Office-approved sponsor.
4. What should I do if my Skilled Worker Visa application is rejected?
If your Skilled Worker Visa application is refused, you can request an administrative review if you believe a caseworker error occurred during the processing of your application. Alternatively, you can address the reasons for the refusal and submit a new application.
5. What is the minimum age for a UK Skilled Worker Visa?
The minimum age for UK Skilled Worker Visa applicants is 18 or over on the date of application. If the applicant does not meet the age requirement, the application will be rejected.
6. What is the success rate for UK Skilled Worker Visas?
Between 2020 Q4 and 2021 Q2, 20,252 UK Skilled Worker Visa applications were resolved, with 20,039 visas granted. Additionally, 172 applications were rejected, 41 applications withdrawn, and no applications lapsed. As a result, the UK Skilled Worker entry clearance visa success and refusal rates were 98.95% and 0.85%, respectively.
7. What are the IELTS requirements for a UK Skilled Worker Visa?
For a UK Skilled Worker Visa, the IELTS requirement is a band score of 4.0-5.0, equivalent to CEFR Level B1. Applicants must demonstrate B1 level English language skills in all four components (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) to score 10 points for the English language requirement.
According to the official CEFR guidelines, a B1 level English speaker can:
- Understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters related to work, school, leisure, etc.
- Handle most situations that may arise while traveling
- Produce simple connected text on familiar topics or personal interests
- Describe experiences, events, dreams, hopes, and ambitions, and provide brief reasons and explanations for opinions and plans
8. What does the “CEFR level C1 for skilled worker” requirement mean for those applying for a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK?
It seems there might be confusion regarding the “CEFR level C1 for skilled worker” requirement. For the UK Skilled Worker Visa, the actual requirement is not C1, but B1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The B1 level indicates an intermediate level of English proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Meeting the “CEFR level B1 for skilled worker” standard is a mandatory requirement, awarding 10 points as part of the points-based immigration system. It ensures skilled workers have the ability to communicate effectively in their job roles and integrate into the UK working environment.
14. Conclusion and Tips
Success Strategies for Skilled Worker Visa UK Application
- Ensure you have a valid job offer and Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a UK employer with a sponsor license.
- Make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements, including English language proficiency and financial maintenance.
- Prepare and submit a complete and accurate application with all required supporting documents.
- Be aware of application deadlines and processing times, and apply in a timely manner.
- Seek professional advice or guidance if you are unsure about any aspect of your application.
By following these tips and understanding the requirements, you can increase your chances of obtaining a UK Skilled Worker Visa and starting a new chapter in your professional life.
For further information you may also refer to Immigration Rules: Appendix Skilled Worker.