UK Skilled Worker Visas | 2024 Application Guide

skilled worker visa


The area of UK immigration law is ever changing, especially in the context of Skilled Worker Visas. In this application guide we aim to break down the complexities of the Skilled Worker Visa law. Understanding the eligibility criteria and application process is fundamental to avoiding delays or refusals in your visa journey.

What is the Skilled Worker Visa?

The Skilled Worker Visa is a pivotal pathway for non-UK nationals to be employed in the United Kingdom under the sponsorship of licensed employers. This type of visa operates under a points-based system, requiring a minimum of 70 points for eligibility. It’s a legal route for skilled individuals and also allows for dependants to join the main visa applicant.

Duration and Settlement: The visa, initially valid for up to five years, opens doors to indefinite leave to remain, subject to specific conditions, as seen on our dedicated ILR as a Skilled Worker page.

Upcoming Changes: Please Note the significant changes due to affect the Skilled Worker Visa as of Spring 2024, with the minimum salary requirement proposed to increase to £38,700 per year.


What are the Skilled Worker Visa Requirements?

The Skilled Worker Visa is dependent on both mandatory and tradeable points, with the applicant required to accumulate a sum of at least 70 points.

Mandatory Requirements

  1. Job Offer from a Licensed Sponsor(20 points): A genuine job offer from an A-rated licensed sponsor is non-negotiable.
  2. English Language Proficiency(10 points): Demonstrable proficiency in English is a non-negotiable.
  3. Skilled Job Level(20 points): The role must meet the skilled job criteria.
  4. Minimum Salary(Variable points): The salary must meet or exceed specific thresholds, which vary based on the role and qualifications.

Tradeable Points

Tradeable points are garnered through salary levels, qualifications, and job situations like job roles that feature on the Shortage Occupation List.

Important Note: The minimum salary threshold is set to increase in Spring 2024.

Employer’s Role: The sponsorship process is outlined here, detailing the employer’s obligations and the application process for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.


Sponsorship Requirement

The sponsorship requirement highlights the need for an A-rated licence and payment of the Immigration Skills Charge. It’s imperative that the job vacancy and employment are genuine, as assessed by the Home Office.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): A valid CoS issued by the employer is a cornerstone of the application. It comes in two forms – defined and undefined, each serving distinct purposes.

skilled worker infographic

Certificate of Sponsorship Requirement

A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is essential in the Skilled Worker Visa application. There are two types:

  1. Defined CoS: Primarily for overseas applicants.
  2. Undefined CoS: Generally used for in-country applications.

The process for sponsors to obtain and allocate undefined CoS is crucial and requires meticulous attention to detail.


Skilled Worker Visa Skill Requirement

Skill Level: The role must meet the RQF3 level requirement, which aligns with the skill level of A-level qualifications in the UK.

Using Standard Occupation Codes (SOC): The role’s eligibility is assessed against specific SOC codes. Correct identification of the relevant SOC code is paramount, and misuse can lead to serious consequences.


Skilled Worker Minimum Salary Requirement

From Spring 2024, the minimum salary threshold for a Skilled Worker Visa will increase to £38,700 annually. The existing rules vary depending on the role and circumstances, such as shortage occupations and new entrants. Note that healthcare workers are exempt from this increase.

Salary Thresholds

  • General Threshold: £26,200 per year (subject to increase).
  • Shortage Occupations: Different thresholds apply (pre Spring 2024 increase)
  • New Entrants: Lower thresholds to facilitate entry.


English Language Requirement

To qualify, applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency at the B1 level.

Acceptable proofs include:

  • English Language Tests: From approved testing centres.
  • Academic Qualifications: Degrees taught in English.
  • Exemptions: Certain nationalities are exempt.


Financial Maintenance Requirement

Applicants must prove financial stability with a minimum savings amount, applicable for a specific timeframe. This requirement extends to dependants, with alternative provisions available.

Background Check Requirement

For certain occupations, a criminal records certificate may be necessary, emphasizing the importance of a clean background for visa approval.

Healthcare Professionals

The Health and Care Worker Visa is a tailored alternative for healthcare professionals, offering specific benefits and eligibility criteria distinct from the Skilled Worker Visa.


How to Apply for a Skilled Worker Visa

The application process is primarily online, involving form submission, document preparation, and appointment scheduling for biometric data collection. Once you instruct our Immigration Solicitors we will:

  1. Verify your eligibility.
  2. Gather the necessary documents.
  3. Complete the online application on your behalf.
  4. Pay applicable fees and book your mandatory biometric appointment.

Supporting Documents for Skilled Worker Visa

A list of documents is also required for your skilled worker application, that including but not limited to:

  • Passport
  • CoS reference number
  • Proof of savings
  • English proficiency evidence
  • Criminal record certificate (if applicable)


Application Fees and Processing Times

Typically, Skilled Worker visa applications made from outside the UK are reviewed and processed in approximately 3 weeks. On the other hand, applications submitted from within the UK usually require a bit more time, with a standard processing time of around 8 weeks.


Visa Duration and Extensions

The Skilled Worker Visa typically lasts up to five years, with extension options leading to indefinite leave to remain, subject to specific conditions.


Changing Jobs or Employers as a Skilled Worker

Changing employers or jobs while on a Skilled Worker Visa requires careful navigation. It’s not just a simple switch; a new visa application is necessary. This includes changes in occupation or moving from a shortage occupation to a non-shortage one.

Application Timeline

You can apply up to three months before your new job’s start date, however, it’s advisable to start the application earlier, as decisions can take up to 8 weeks and are also subject to any Home Office delays.


Employer Requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa

Sponsorship Licence Necessity

Employers in the UK looking to hire non-resident workers must hold a valid sponsorship licence. This licence is a testament to their eligibility and readiness to hire international talent.

Obtaining a Licence

The process for an employer to obtain a sponsorship licence involves proving their ability to meet certain responsibilities and obligations set by the Home Office. This includes demonstrating a genuine need for the role and the absence of suitable resident workers.


Switching to the Skilled Worker Visa

Eligibility for Switching

Certain visa categories allow holders to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa. This includes students and individuals on some work visas. However, there are categories that are ineligible for this switch, necessitating a departure from the UK and a fresh application from abroad.

Specific Rules for Students

Students, particularly, face specific conditions when switching. They must have completed their course or be within a certain period of their visa expiry to be eligible.


Additional Work on a Skilled Worker Visa

Rules and Conditions

Holders of a Skilled Worker Visa may engage in additional work, but this is subject to strict rules. The additional role must align with the same skill level as the main job and cannot interfere with the primary employment.

Visa Updates for Additional Work

In some cases, taking on additional work might necessitate updating the visa. It’s important to understand when and how these changes need to be reported to avoid compliance issues.


How Primus Can Hep With Your Skilled Worker Visa Application

Tailored Solutions

Our team is equipped to handle the nuances of each application, ensuring all criteria are met and the process is as smooth as possible. Whether it’s understanding the latest regulations, switching visas, or ensuring your application is complete and compliant, we’re here to help.



Understanding the UK Skilled Worker Visa process requires an in-depth understanding of the requirements and regulations. With the upcoming changes in 2024, it’s more important than ever to stay informed and prepared. Whether you’re an employer looking to Sponsor a Skilled Worker or an individual seeking to work in the UK, Primus Solicitors is here to guide you through each step of the process.