How to Get Visa to Work in UK? Skilled Worker Visa Requirements

This guidance relates to UK Skilled Work Visa Requirements, which has replaced the Tier 2 General (aka work permit) in 2020. However, unlike Tier 2 General, this new route for skilled workers can lead to permanent settlement (ILR) in the UK. Please note, migrants on Tier 2 (General) can apply for extensions, changes of employment and settlement under the Skilled Worker route.

1. Overview 2. Validity 3. Suitability 4. Eligibility 5. Supporting Documents 6. Guidance Notes 7. Sucess Rate

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1. Overview

Skilled Worker Visa UK

The Skilled Worker route is for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and non-EEA nationals who are sponsored to do a specific skilled job for a Home Office licensed sponsor. Please note, throughout this document, references to EEA nationals include Swiss nationals and excludes Irish nationals, who have a specific status in the UK under section 3ZA of the Immigration Act 1971.

The Skilled Worker route is for employers to recruit people to work in the UK in a specific job. A Skilled Worker must have a job offer in an eligible skilled occupation from a Home Office-approved sponsor.

Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Worker

Requirements

In terms of Appendix Skilled Worker, a foreign worker needs to meet the validity, suitability, and eligibility requirements to get UK visa as a skilled worker.

  • Validity Requirements for Skilled Worker Visa UK: The Paragraphs SW 1.1. to SW 1.6 of Appendix Skilled Worker outline the minimum criteria which an applicant needs to fulfill for the further considerations. For instance, the applicant has used the correct form and supplied their identity documents. Applications which do not meet validity requirements are rejected as invalid.
  • Suitability Requirements for Skilled Work Visa UK: The Paragraphs SW 2.1. to SW 2.2 of Appendix Skilled Worker relates to the suitability of the applicant to be granted any form of permission, not specifically whether they qualify as a Skilled Worker. Applicants must not fall for refusal on general grounds or be in breach of immigration laws. Applications which do not meet these requirements are refused.
  • Eligibility Requirements for Skilled Worker Visa UK: The Paragraphs SW 3.1 to SW 16.2 of Appendix Skilled Worker relates to the specific eligibility criteria. Applications which do not meet these requirements are refused.

If you are a medical or a healthcare professional, then please refer to How Do I Get a UK Health and Care Visa in 2021?

Skilled Worker Visa UK

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2. Validity

UK Skilled Worker Visa Requirements

Before considering suitability and eligibility requirements, the Immigration Officer/Home Office check the validity of the application under the paragraphs SW 1.1. to SW 1.6 of Appendix Skilled Worker Visa, which relate to:

  1. EEA Nationals
  2. Application Fees and Immigration Health Charge
  3. Biometrics and Identity Documents
  4. Certificate of Sponsorship
  5. Minimum Age of the Applicant
  6. Government or International Scholarship Agency Awards
  7. Switching

2.1 EEA Nationals

Although, the UK Skilled Worker Visa entry clearance applications made by EEA nationals made before the end of free movement between the EU and the UK can be considered as valid, but the grant should be no earlier than 1 January 2021. However, the applications for permission to stay before 1 January 2021 from EEA nationals are rejected as invalid.

2.2 Application Fees and Immigration Health Charge

The UK Skilled Worker visa applicants need to pay the relevant application fees and any Immigration Health Charge (aka Immigration Health Surcharge or IHS). Accordingly, each person applying will need to pay:

  1. the visa application fee, which depends on the duration of the Skilled Worker Visa
  2. the healthcare surcharge for each year of their stay – usually @ £624 per year

Please note, 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. Applicants applying for the Health and Care visa are exempt from paying the Immigration Health Charge and have lower visa application fees. Once the Skilled Worker Visa is granted then migrants need to pay £19.20 for biometrics information (fingerprints and a photo) in the UK.

Skilled Worker Visa Fees 2021/22 from Outside the UK

If an applicant is applying from outside the UK, then the standard fee depends on the duration of the Skilled Worker Visa. Therefore, if the duration of the Skilled Worker Visa is up to 3 years, then the application fees are £610 per person. However, if the duration of the Skilled Worker Visa is more than 3 years then the application fees are £1,220 per person.

Skilled Worker Visa Fees 2021/22 Inside the UK

If an applicant is applying from inside the UK to extend, switch or update visa, then standard fee depends on the duration of the Skilled Worker Visa. Therefore, if the duration of the Skilled Worker Visa is up to 3 years, then the application fees are £704 per person. However, if the duration of the Skilled Worker Visa is more than 3 years then the application fees are £1,408 per person.

Skilled Worker Visa Fees – Shortage Occupation List

The application fee for Skilled Worker Visa Shortage Occupation List is the same from inside and outside the UK. If the duration of the Skilled Worker Visa (Shortage Occupation List) application is up to 3 years, then the application fees are £464 per person. However, if the duration of the Skilled Worker Visa (Shortage Occupation List) is more than 3 years then the application fees are £928 per person.

2.3 Biometrics and Identity Documents

At the time of application, Skilled Worker Visa applicants need to provide their biometrics. These biometrics details are verified against a valid passport or other travel document of the applicants

2.4 Certificate of Sponsorship

UK Skilled Worker Visa applicants need to have a certificate of sponsorship (CoS). The COS is a virtual document (like a database record) which is assigned by the sponsor. Sponsors use a secure IT system called the sponsorship management system (SMS) to assign a CoS.

The applicants should provide COS reference number in their application. If the applicant has not supplied the reference number, they must provide an explanation. If the Immigration Officer/Home is not satisfied the sponsor has assigned a CoS to the applicant, then may reject the application. If the CoS reference number is not yet assigned because of delays by UKVI (for instance, a delay in processing a sponsor licence application or a request for a CoS), then the Immigration Officer/Home Office may exceptionally place the case on hold pending the outcome.

The assigned CoS should not be more than 3 months before the date of application. If the COS is assigned too early, then also the application may be rejected.

2.5 Minimum Age

The minimum age for UK Skilled Worker visa applicants is 18 or over on the date of application. Therefore, if the applicant is too young, then the application gets rejected.

2.6 Government or International Scholarship Agency Awards

If a UK Skilled Worker Visa applicant has received an award covering fees and living costs from a government or international scholarship agency in the 12 months before the date of application, then the government or agency must provide written consent to the applicant. The letter of consent must be on the official letter-headed paper or stationery of the organisation or organisations, bearing the official stamp of that organisation and issued by an authorised official of that organisation. The documents must confirm the organisation gives the applicant consent to remain in or re-enter the UK.

2.7 Switching

An applicant who is in the UK cannot apply to switch into the Skilled Worker route if they have, or were last granted, permission as a Visitor, Short-Term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household, or outside the Immigration Rules.

3. Suitability

Skilled Worker Visa UK Requirements

For entry clearance or permission to stay as a Skilled Worker in the UK an applicant need to meet the suitability requirements under Paragraphs SW2.1 and SW 2.2 of Appendix Skilled Worker. Therefore, in terms of paragraph SW2.1 the Skilled Work Visa applicant must not fall for refusal under Part 9: grounds for refusal. Moreover, as per paragraph SW2.2 an applicant applying for permission to stay the applicant must not be:

  • in breach of immigration laws, except that where paragraph 39E applies, that period of overstaying will be disregarded; or
  • on immigration bail

4. Eligibility

Skilled Worker Visa UK Requirements

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.

Accordingly, in terms of Appendix Skilled Worker, eligibility requirements for UK Skilled Worker Visa relates to:

  1. Entry Requirement
  2. Tuberculosis Certificate
  3. Points Requirement (Overview)
  4. 20-Points for Sponsorship (Mandatory)
  5. 20-Points for a Job at the appropriate Skill Level (Mandatory)
  6. 10-Points for the English Language Requirement (Mandatory)
  7. Tradeable Points Options
  8. Consideration of Salary (All Tradeable Points Options)
  9. Financial Requirement (Mandatory)
  10. Criminal Record Certificate Requirement (Mandatory)

4.1 Entry Clearance

A person seeking to come to the UK as a Skilled Worker need to apply for and obtain entry clearance as a Skilled Worker before they arrive in the UK.

4.2 Tuberculosis Certificates

Skilled Worker Visa applicant needs to provide a valid TB certificate with their application if they have been residing within a country listed in Appendix T of the Immigration Rules for more than 6 months immediately preceding the application. If an applicant fails to provide a valid TB test certificate, then the application is refused paragraph SW 3.2 of Skilled Worker Visa.

4.3 Mandatory Points

A Skilled Worker Visa applicant needs to score fifty (50) mandatory points against the following requirements:

  • Sponsorship – 20 Points
  • Job at an Appropriate Skill Level – 20 Points
  • English Language skills at level B1 (intermediate) – 10 Points

4.4 Sponsorship – 20 Points

To get Skilled Worker Visa UK an applicant needs to score 20 points for sponsorship. Accordingly, to secure 20 Points for Sponsorship an applicant needs to satisfy the requirements relating to:

  1. Valid Certificate of Sponsorship
  2. Licensed Sponsor
  3. Immigration Skills Charge
  4. Genuine Vacancy
  5. Working for Third Parties

4.5 Job at an Appropriate Skill Level – 20 Points

To get UK Skilled Worker Visa an applicant needs to score 20 points for Job at an Appropriate Skill Level. Accordingly, to secure 20 Points for Sponsorship an applicant needs to satisfy that they are sponsored in an occupation code listed in Table 1 or Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations. An applicant may not get the points for a job at the appropriate skill level if the sponsor has not chosen an appropriate occupation code.

4.6 English Language – 10 Points

To get UK Skilled Worker Visa an applicant needs to score 10 points for English language skills equivalent to level B1 of the Common European Framework of References (CEFR) for English language in all four components (reading, writing, speaking, and listening).

An applicant can meet the UK Skilled Worker visa requirements for English Language if they are nationals of a majority English speaking country, have a degree taught in English (certified by UK NARIC equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree), have passed an English language test (CEFR Level B1), have met requirement in a previous grant of leave or there are transitional arrangements.

Skilled Worker Visa applicants do not need to prove the knowledge of English Language if they are a national of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA. Please note, applicants from non-English Speaking countries, usually meet the Skilled Worker visa requirements by passing an approved English language test.

For further details, please refer to Appendix English Language.

4.7 Tradeable Points Requirement – 20 Points

If an applicant can score 50 mandatory points (for sponsorship, job at an appropriate level, and English Language), then only the Home Office (Immigration Officer) consider the UK Skilled Worker visa application for 20 tradeable points for minimum salary requirements under Option A to F.

Accordingly, for UK Skilled Worker Visa application to be successful, for each tradeable points option, the sponsors need to pay a minimum salary whichever is the higher of the following:

  • the relevant general threshold of £25,600, £23,040, £20,800 or £20,480, depending on the tradeable points option
  • the going rate (subject to any permitted reductions in case of Option B, C, D and E) is the minimum salary which applies for a particular occupation code as per Appendix Skilled Occupations
  • minimum £10.10 per hour requirement for options A to E, even if this is higher than the going rate

Please note, the minimum hourly rate of £10.10 per hour for options A to E is not applicable for migrants in the UK having continuous permission as a Skilled Worker and Tier 2 (General) before 6 April 2021.

If the Salary is at least £25,600, £10.10 per hour, and the full pro-rated going rate under Option A then there is no need to consider other tradeable points options viz. PhD qualification (B and C), Shortage Occupation (D), New Entrants (E), and Job in a Listed Health or Education Occupation (F).

4.8 Consideration of salary (all tradeable points options)

As per the UK Skilled Worker Visa application procedure, applicants and sponsors need to provide information relating to tradeable points. Therefore, it is possible for applicants to score tradeable points in more than one way (although applicants cannot mix and match different tradeable options). However, this does not mean, the Home Office/Immigration Officer, necessarily need to consider every option fully in every application.

Accordingly, the Home Office/Immigration usually first considers the mandatory points for sponsorship and a skilled job. Then considers whether the occupation code is in Table 1 or Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations (as this will affect the options which are available). Next, the Home Office considers salary, then (in the case of occupations in Table 1) any other information which could attract tradeable points.

4.9 Financial Requirement (Mandatory)

An applicant will automatically meet the financial requirement when they are applying for permission to stay in the UK, having been in the UK for at least 12 months with permission on the date of application. However, if this does not apply, an applicant can meet the financial requirement by either:

  • their sponsor certifying, they will, if necessary, maintain and accommodate the applicant up to the end of the first month of their employment, to an amount of at least £1,270; or
  • providing evidence showing they have held funds of at least £1,270 for a 28-day period as set out in the financial requirement guidance (this has reduced from the 90-day requirement which existed for Tier 2 applications)

4.10 Criminal Records Certificate (Mandatory)

The criminal records certificate requirement for UK Skilled Worker Visa applies if the application is for entry clearance and the applicant is being sponsored in an occupation code listed in paragraph SW 16.1 of Appendix Skilled Worker, which mostly relates to Health, Education, Social Workers etc.

If the requirement applies, the applicant need to provide a criminal records certificate for any country they have been present in for 12 months or more (whether continuously or in total) in the 10 years before the date of application, while they were aged eighteen or over. However, the requirement may not apply if the applicant provides a satisfactory explanation why it is not reasonably practicable for them to obtain a criminal record certificate from any or all the relevant authorities.

UK Skilled Work Visa Requirements 2021

5. Supporting Documents

UK Skilled Worker Visa Requirements

To meet the UK Skilled Worker visa requirements an applicant needs to furnish the following supporting documents with the application:

  1. Print out of the UK Skilled Worker Visa Online Application Form
  2. a current passport (or other valid travel identification) that shows applicant’s identity and nationality with a blank page on both sides for affixation of the visa vignette
  3. certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh
  4. certificate of sponsorship reference number, which the UK employer (sponsor) has given to the applicant
  5. job title and annual salary
  6. job’s occupation code
  7. name of the employer and their sponsor licence number – this will be on the certificate of sponsorship
  8. proof of meeting the English requirement such as UKVI IELTS Test result, academic degree with ECCTIS (previously UKNARIC) certificate
  9. Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

An applicant may ask their employer for a copy of certificate of sponsorship if they do not have one.

Additional Supporting Documents

Depending on your circumstances, a Skilled Worker Visa applicant may need to provide:

  • evidence of requisite personal savings for meeting the maintenance funds requirements. For instance, bank statements (unless the certificate of sponsorship shows that the employer can support)
  • proof of relationship with spouse/partner or children – if dependant family members are applying with the main applicant
  • tuberculosis test results, if applicable
  • a criminal record certificate – if applicable
  • a valid ATAS certificate – if the job involves researching a sensitive subject at PhD level or higher
  • UK PhD certificate, or unique ECCTIS reference number (formerly unique UK NARIC reference number) if the applicant’s qualification is from outside the UK

6. Guidance Notes

UK Skilled Worker Visa Requirements

Processing Time

The service standard for UK Skilled Work Visa Processing Time after Biometrics in 2021 is to decide 90%, 98% and 100% of the applications within 15, 30 and 60 working days, respectively. Accordingly, the UK Skilled Worker visa processing time is usually within 3 weeks or 15 working days for 90-95% of the applicants. Moreover, applicants can fast track UK Skilled Worker visa processing time within five working days by purchasing the £220 priority visa service.

The service standard for UK Skilled Worker visa extension or renewal visa processing time after biometrics is 8 weeks for renewal applications. Moreover, applicants can fast track UK Skilled Worker visa processing time for extension (renewal) applications within 5 working days or 24 hours by purchasing the £500 or £800 priority or super-priority service, respectively. Please note, purchasing the priority or super-priority service for fast-tracking UK Skilled Worker visa processing time does not influence the decision. In fact, these premium services are only for fast tracking UK Skilled Worker visa processing time of straightforward applications.

Conditions of Stay in the UK

A migrant on Skilled Worker Visa in the UK can:

  1. work for the sponsor in the job described in the Certificate of Sponsorship
  2. do a second job in certain circumstances; however, can only apply for a second job until the migrant starts working for the sponsor
  3. do voluntary work
  4. study if it does not interfere with the sponsored job
  5. travel abroad and return to the UK
  6. bring family members to the UK
  7. apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if the migrant has lived in the UK for 5 years and meet the other eligibility requirements

However, a migrant on Skilled Worker route cannot apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension, and change jobs or employer unless the migrant applies to update the visa.

Second Job

A migrant on Skilled Worker route needs to apply to update the visa if they take on a second job that is either:

  • more than 20 paid hours a week in addition to the job they are being sponsored for
  • in a different occupation code

The second job must meet the eligibility requirements and the migrant on Skilled Worker Visa in the UK need a new certificate of sponsorship to prove this. Accordingly, the migrant also needs to include a letter with the application explaining that they want to change their current permission to stay. The letter must state:

  • name of the applicant
  • date of birth of the applicant
  • the current certificate of sponsorship reference number
  • the date when the current permission to stay runs out

If the application is successful, the migrant will get a new visa giving them permission to do both jobs. Please note, a migrant on Skilled Worker Visa do not need to apply to update the visa if they are taking on additional work in the same occupation code or the migrant be doing less than 20 paid hours a week.

Settlement

A migrant on a Skilled Worker route can apply for settlement (ILR) after spending a continuous period of 5 years in the UK, consisting of time with permission in any of, or any combination of, the following routes:

  • Skilled Worker
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Global Talent
  • Innovator
  • T2 Minister of Religion / Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
  • T2 Sportsperson / Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • High value migrant such as Tier 1 (Investor)
  • Tier 1 (General)

7. Success Rate

UK Skilled Worker Visa Success and Refusal Rate 2021

According to the latest immigration statistics, from 2020 Q4 to 2021 Q2, 20,252 UK Skilled Worker Visa applications resolved, and 20,039 visas granted. Moreover, 172 applications rejected, 41 applications withdrawn, and no application lapsed. Therefore, the UK Skilled Worker entry clearance visa success and refusal rate are 98.95% and 0.85%, respectively.

UK Skilled Worker Visa Success Rate 2021

Year/ QuarterDecisionsIssuedRefusedWithdrawnLapsedSuccess Rate
2020Q479078730099.62%
2021Q17,9317,8526811099.01%
2021Q211,53111,40010130098.86%
Total20,25220,03917241098.95%