This guidance relates to Job at an Appropriate Level and ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) Requirements for UK Skilled Worker Visa. Please note, the ATAS certificate requirements are not applicable for most of the UK Skilled Worker Visa applicants.
UK Skilled Worker Visa Job at an Appropriate Level Requirements
In terms of paragraphs SW 6.1. to SW 6.5. of Appendix Skilled Worker, an applicant needs to score 20 points for Job at an Appropriate Skill Level. Accordingly, to secure 20 Points for Job at Appropriate Level, an applicant needs to satisfy that they are sponsored in an eligible 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. Moreover, an applicant will not be able to score 20-points for a job at an appropriate skill level if they don’t get the 20 mandatory points for sponsorship.
SW 6.1. The applicant must be sponsored for a job in an eligible occupation code listed in Appendix Skilled Occupations, subject to SW 6.2.
SW 6.4. If the requirements in SW 6.1. to SW 6.3A. are met, an applicant will be awarded 20 mandatory points for a job at the appropriate skill level, subject to SW 6.5.
SW 6.5. No points will be awarded for a job at the appropriate skill level if the applicant is not also being awarded the 20 mandatory points for sponsorship under SW 5.7
Exaggerated or Incorrect Occupation Codes
A UK skilled worker visa applicant will not score points for a job at the appropriate level if the sponsor has not chosen an appropriate occupation code. For instance:
- the job description appears to be a standard or template response used for other businesses and the UK skilled worker visa application is in a high-risk sector
- the applicant has been refused previously on similar grounds
A sponsor may choose a less appropriate occupation code either by accidental error or intentionally. In such instances, the Immigration Officer (Home Office) may request additional information to give the sponsor an opportunity to correct any accidental error and/or address any questions about whether they have misrepresented the job.
Less Appropriate Occupation Code
In terms of paragraph SW 6.2 of Appendix Skilled Worker, the Home Office may consider whether the sponsor has chosen a less appropriate occupation code for any of the following reasons to:
- make a job which is not at the appropriate skill level appear more skilled
- be able to pay the applicant a lower going rate
- qualify for tradeable points for a job in a shortage occupation
- qualify for tradeable points for a relevant PhD qualification
SW 6.2. The sponsor must choose an appropriate occupation code, and the decision maker must not have reasonable grounds to believe the sponsor has chosen a less appropriate occupation code for any of the following reasons:
(a) the most appropriate occupation code is not eligible under the Skilled Worker route; or
(b) the most appropriate occupation code has a higher going rate than the proposed salary; or
(c) the most appropriate occupation code is not a shortage occupation, and the applicant is claiming points for a job in a shortage occupation; or
(d) the most appropriate occupation code is not listed as “eligible for PhD points” in Table 1 of Appendix Skilled Occupations and the applicant is claiming points for an educational qualification.
Accordingly, in terms of paragraph SW 6.3 the Home Office may consider:
- whether the sponsor has shown a genuine need for the job as described
- whether the applicant has the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job as described
- the sponsor’s history of compliance with the immigration system including, but not limited to, paying its sponsored workers appropriately
- any additional information from the sponsor
SW 6.3. To support the assessment in SW 6.2., the decision maker may, in particular, consider:
(a) whether the sponsor has shown a genuine need for the job as described; and
(b) whether the applicant has the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job as described; and
(c) the sponsor’s history of compliance with the immigration system including, but not limited to, paying its sponsored workers appropriately; and
(d) any additional information from the sponsor.
Compliance Visit to the Sponsor
Concerns about exaggerated or incorrect jobs may lead to a compliance visit to the sponsor. If it is not possible (for the Home Office) at the outset to decide such applications, then the application may remain on hold pending the outcome of a compliance visit. Accordingly, the Home Office will inform the applicant that their application is on hold due to further checks with their sponsor but will not disclose any as-yet-unproven concerns about the sponsor. If compliance check results in revoking the sponsor’s licence, then the Home Office will explain fully any genuine vacancy concerns in the decision letter, and not rely solely on the fact the sponsor does not have a licence.
Interview of the Applicant
If the Home Office considers the applicant is aware that their job is not at the appropriate skill level and is complicit in misrepresenting it, then may invite them to attend an interview. Accordingly, the Immigration Officer will put their concerns to the applicant in plain language and give them the chance to respond (either in an interview or in writing) before deciding. If the Immigration Officer finds the applicant is complicit, then will include this in the refusal decision.
The implications for an applicant of a finding of deception can be significant and is a fact-sensitive issue. If an applicant is lawfully in the UK, the consequences are likely to be serious and to mean Home Office will give the applicant a chance to respond before refusing their application. If the application is for entry clearance, it will not reach the required level of seriousness, because in most such cases a refusal will not change the applicant’s circumstances. For more details, please refer to general grounds for refusal on false representations.
For applications made from 21 May 2021, applicants must provide a valid ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) Certificate if all of the following apply:
- they are being sponsored as a Skilled Worker by a sponsor which is also a licensed Student sponsor (these will mainly be universities)
- they are not one of the exempt nationals listed in paragraph ATAS 3.1
- their job is in one of the occupation codes listed in paragraph ATAS 1.2(a)
- the job includes an element of PhD-level research in a relevant subject (and these subjects are listed in paragraph ATAS 4.1)
The details are set out in Appendix ATAS. Sponsors should confirm on the applicant’s CoS whether the ATAS requirement applies. In future, the Home Office may add a field in the CoS to confirm ATAS requirement. At present, the ATAS Confirmation needs to be set out in a sponsor note.
ATAS 1.2. An applicant (who is not a national of a country listed at ATAS 3.1.) requires a valid ATAS certificate if they are applying in a work route which requires a Certificate of Sponsorship, that Certificate of Sponsorship is issued by a work sponsor that is also a licensed student sponsor, and the role set out in the Certificate of Sponsorship
Except for PhD-level research (and subjects listed in paragraph ATAS 4.1), if the provision of ATAS Certificate is applicable but the sponsor does provide a note to say whether the ATAS requirement applies, and the applicant has not provided an ATAS certificate, then the Home Office will contact the sponsor to confirm whether the requirement applies. If the sponsor fails to provide the necessary confirmation, the Home Office will not award points for sponsorship (paragraph SW 5.1(f)).
SW 5.1. The applicant must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job they are planning to do; which to be valid must:
(f) confirm whether or not the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) requirement in Appendix ATAS applies.
If the sponsor confirms the ATAS requirement applies and the applicant has not provided an ATAS certificate, then the Immigration Officer (Home Office) will consider contacting the applicant. Please note, processing an ATAS application takes at least 20 working days and can take 30 or more working days between April and September. Therefore, Home Office usually allow the standard 10 working days for the UK skilled worker visa applicant to respond but consider extending the deadline if the applicant confirms they have submitted their ATAS application and are waiting for a response.
If an applicant does not provide a copy of a valid ATAS certificate when required, the Home Office will not award points for a job at an appropriate skill level required for UK Skilled Worker Visa (paragraph SW 6.3A).
SW 6.3A. If the ATAS requirement in Appendix ATAS applies, the applicant must provide a valid ATAS certificate.