Skilled Worker Visa

Allows employers to recruit non-UK resident workers for certain eligible, skilled roles

The Skilled Worker visa, which has replaced the Tier 2 (General) visa, is the main UK immigration route for non-UK resident workers.
The Skilled Worker visa allows employers to recruit non-UK resident workers for certain eligible, skilled roles.

The visa is open to individuals who attain 70 points by meeting specific requirements such as skill and salary level, English language ability and having a qualifying job offer from a UK sponsor.


Under this route, applicants will need to accrue a total of 70 points to be eligible for a visa, including EEA nationals recruited from outside the UK after 1 January 2021 and who are not eligible for status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

To determine if the job is eligible for the Skilled Worker route, the sponsor should identify the relevant SOC code for the role. This is usually done using the ONS occupation coding tool. The job description on the list should match the position being filled.

Once the code has been identified, this will need to be cross-referenced with the list of eligible jobs to check that it is included and is eligible under the Skilled Worker route.

The Home Office can refuse the visa application is the incorrect SOC code is used.

Healthcare professionals looking to work in the UK health or adult social care sector should instead look at the Health and Care Worker visa. This route is specifically designed for health sector occupations and offers a number of benefits to visa holders over the Skilled Worker visa, such as a lower application fee and exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge.

The Skilled Worker visa general minimum salary threshold is £25,600 per year, unless the ‘going rate’ for the particular role is higher. Every occupational code is assigned a going rate.

The salary level must be calculated by the hour and not just annually. Minimum pay can be no less than £10.10 per hour, even if the annual salary is above the required level.

In some cases, where the job on offer will pay less than the general salary threshold or specific salary requirement for that role – but no less than £20,480 – the applicant may still be eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker visa by trading specific characteristics against a lower salary to attain the required number of points.

Provided their salary is at least £20,480 per year, the applicant can rely on a salary of 70% – 90% of the relevant going rate for the job, provided one of the following applies: where an applicant has a job offer in a specific shortage occupation; or they have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education; or they have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification relevant to the job (if they have a relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject the salary must be at least £23,040); or they are a ‘new entrant’ to the UK labour market.

A new entrant is someone who is under 26 on the date they make their application and is applying for a maximum period of 3 years’ leave as a skilled worker, those sponsored in postdoctoral research positions, those in professional training or studying for professional qualifications, registration or chartered status or a recent graduate, or in professional training.

The salary requirement for new entrants is 30% lower than the rate for experienced workers in any occupation, even though the minimum of £20,480 must still be met. There are also different minimum salary rules for workers in certain health or education occupations.

The required level of English is a minimum level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages scale for reading, writing, speaking and understanding English.

Most Skilled Worker visa applicants will need to prove they meet the English language requirement, unless they have already done so as part of a previous UK immigration application or if they are a national of one of a number of exempt countries.
Before the worker can submit their visa application, their UK sponsor must first issue them a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to confirm that the individual and role meet the sponsorship eligibility requirements.

The CoS is a reference number that the Skilled Worker visa applicant will need to provide with their Home Office application. Only licenced sponsors can issue a CoS.

Sponsors will need to apply for a defined CoS. This is a specific application to the Home Office, and details of the specific job and salary will need to be provided.

The applicant must show they meet the financial requirement, and have sufficient funds to support themselves as they will not have access to public funds such as benefits.

Applicants must have at least £1,270 in their bank account when applying. This amount must have been available for at least 28 consecutive days, with day 28 being within 31 days of making the visa application. The applicant will need to provide evidence of their savings, unless they have been in the UK for 12 months with lawful status, or if their sponsor agrees to meet their costs of up to £1,270 during their first month in the UK. Additional funds will be needed if dependants are applying.

Some applicants may also need to show a criminal records certificate, if their occupation requires this.

The skilled worker visa is usually granted for up to 5 years. At this point, the visa holder would need to apply to extend the visa or on completing the 5 year residency requirement, they may become eligible to apply for UK indefinite leave the remain.

There is no limit on the number of times you can extend the skilled worker visa, provided you continue to meet the visa requirements.
If the visa holder changes sponsor or jobs, they will need to apply for a new period of leave.


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