The Skilled Worker Visa was introduced in December 2020 and replaced the Level 2 (General) Work Visa. The Level 2 (General) visa remains valid for visa holders, but the next visa extension will be granted under the Skilled Worker Route. The two routes will be considered as one for the purpose of assessing eligibility for indefinite leave.
EEA nationals who do not have status under the EU Settlement Program must apply for the Skilled Worker Visa in the same way as applicants from outside the EU. Irish citizens have the right to live and work in the UK under the Good Friday Agreement and do not need a visa or EU settlement status document.
The Skilled Worker Visa gives entitlement to indefinite leave to stay after five years in this immigration route or in a combination of eligible immigration categories.
Job requirements for the skilled worker visa
To qualify for the UK Skilled Worker Visa you will need:
- A job posting from a UK based employer who holds a valid sponsor license
- The job must be on the list of eligible occupations (you can check the relevant SOC code on the list of eligible occupations and the minimum wage level for the occupation)
- The salary must be above a prescribed threshold which will depend on the type of job, your level of experience or if the job is included in the list of jobs in tension
- You should be given a “sponsorship certificate” by the employer with information about the role and salary you are offering.
You need all of the above before you can apply for a visa.
Minimum wage for the skilled worker visa
There are two applicable thresholds – a general threshold and a job specific threshold, also known as the “going rate” for employment; and it is the higher of the two that apple.
The general minimum wage threshold for the skilled worker visa is:
For Doctorate holders of a job offer corresponding to their diploma, the minimum salary threshold is:
For the others Doctorate holders in a STEM (sciences, technological engineering and mathematics), where the sponsored profession appears on the list of professions in short supply, and for new entrants, the minimum pay threshold is:
- £ 20,480 per year (£ 10.10 per hour)
The current rate can be found in the annex of the immigration rules for qualified professions. The four columns show the standard rate, 90% of the going rate, which applies to doctorate holders, 80% which applies to doctorate holders in STEM subjects and shortage jobs, and 70% applicable to new entrants.
Who qualifies as a new entrant?
- Applicants under the age of 26 on the date of the application.
- Post-doctoral fellows in chemical, biological and physical sciences, human and social sciences and higher education professionals.
- Sponsored candidates to obtain a recognized professional qualification or for full registration or accredited status with the professional body concerned.
- Candidates moving from the path of graduate entrepreneurs.
- Applicants with a valid student visa who have either completed their studies towards a degree or plan to complete their studies within three months from the date of application, or who have completed at least 12 months of ‘studies towards a doctorate.
- Applicants who have previously studied in the UK and have successfully completed their studies at university level and whose student visa has expired less than 2 years prior to the application date and there has been no intermediate visa between the student visa and the skilled worker visa application. The visitor visa granted after the student does not count as an intermediate event.
- Applicants whose most recent authorization was under the graduate studies path. This must be a valid graduate visa if the application is made in the UK or, if the request is made for entry authorization from abroad, the graduate visa must not have expired more than two years before the date of the request.
Knowledge of English
You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English.
The language requirement is fulfilled if you are a citizen of a predominantly English speaking country or have studied in the UK up to university level or have obtained an A level in English. Otherwise, you will need to take a B1 English test or obtain confirmation from NARIC that you have studied at a university where the main language of instruction was English and the degree is recognized or convertible in the UK.
List of predominantly English-speaking countries
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Bahamas
- New Zealand
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- St. LUCIA
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United States
Financial need (previously called maintenance need)
All applicants will automatically meet the financial requirements if they request an extension of leave after staying in the UK for at least 12 months. Thus, all applicants moving from the student, graduate or other long-term path and who have a valid visa on the date of application will most likely meet the requirement.
When the above does not apply, the employer can certify that he will be ready, if necessary, to provide an amount of £ 1270 the maintenance and accommodation of the applicant until the end of his first month of employment.
In the alternative, the applicant will have to prove that he has held funds of at least £ 1270 in a bank account for at least 28 days before the date of the request.
How much does it cost?
The cost of the Skilled Worker Visa includes the following:
- Application fees: standard fees vary from £ 610 to £ 1,408 depending on your situation
- Health supplement: £ 624 per year
In addition, if your employer has not certified the interview and you have not been to the UK in the last 12 months, you will need to prove that you can support yourself financially when you arrive in the UK. United. This condition is met if you show that you have held at least £ 1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days.
How long is the skilled worker visa (duration of grant)
The skilled worker visa is granted for the duration indicated on the sponsorship certificate. There is no minimum duration. The longest is five years. It can be extended beyond the five years if, for some reason, you choose not to request indefinite leave to stay at the end of the five-year period.
The visa is tied to a specific job with the named sponsor. If you change your sponsor or there are significant changes in your employment contract, you will need a new visa.
Additional employment outside of sponsorship
You can hold a so-called “complementary” job without needing to request a second sponsorship certificate if your second job is up to 20 hours per week outside of your working hours for the sponsor and the job is either in the same SOC code, or listed in the appendix List of shortage occupations. You do not have to inform the Ministry of the Interior of the additional employment.
Alternatively, if the second job does not meet the above requirements, you can get permission to work in a “secondary” job. This will require a second sponsorship certificate and an authorization modification request. You will receive a new letter of approval which will indicate your primary and secondary sponsors and the end date of employment for each.
Secondary employment cannot start before or at the same time as the main employment and can only be added to an existing visa. Therefore, secondary employment cannot continue beyond the primary employment date.
Procedural and documentary requirements
All applicants will need the following:
- the reference number of your sponsorship certificate – your employer will give it to you
- a valid passport
- your job title and annual salary
- the occupation code of your job
- your employer’s name and sponsorship license number – this will be on your sponsorship certificate
Other documents which may be necessary in certain circumstances but may not apply to all:
- Proof of meeting English language requirements;
- Bank account statements showing the balance of £ 1,270 held for at least 28 days (if the applicant does not apply from the UK after 12 months of prior residence and the sponsor does not certify financial need)
- TB test certificate (for entry authorization applications from countries listed in Annex TB of the immigration rules)
- A criminal record extract from each country where you have resided for 12 months or more in the 10 years preceding the application – for entry clearance applications for applicants coming to the UK to work in education , health, social services or therapy. The full list of SOC codes that require criminal record certificates can be found in the Skilled Worker appendix, paragraph SK16.1 of the Immigration Rules.
When and how to apply
You can apply for a Skilled Worker Visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start working in the UK.
The request is made online and the supporting documents are uploaded to the government portal. You may sometimes be asked to send the original documents to the decision-maker, but these requests are not frequent for the Skilled Worker path.
How to know if the job is on the list of shortage occupations?
The jobs in shortage are listed in the immigration rules, annex List of jobs in shortage.
How long does my “new entrant” status last?
New entrant status can be held for a maximum of four years. This includes time spent on the road as graduates or as a skilled worker or level 2 migrant. New entrant status cannot be granted for part of the leave period. In other words, your visa cannot be granted for a period of five years if you are counting on a reduced rate of pay as a newcomer whose maximum qualification period is four years.