UK Skilled Worker Visa Solicitors
|Skilled Worker Visa
|Required for non-EEA nationals and post-Brexit EU citizens.
|Necessary for hiring international skilled workers.
|Certificate of Sponsorship
|Essential proof of genuine job offer.
|Minimum salary requirements vary by occupation.
|Financial proof, criminal record checks, RLMT under some circumstances.
|Flexibility for switching visas, extending, and settlement.
|Visa holders can bring family members.
|Online application with required documentation.
|Visa Fees/Processing Times
|Costs vary based on duration, location, expedited services.
The UK’s Skilled Worker Visa represents a pivotal pathway for employers to recruit international skilled labour and for individuals seeking employment opportunities within the United Kingdom. Replacing the former Tier 2 (General) visa, this visa category simplifies the process for skilled workers from around the globe to contribute to the UK’s workforce. Primarily aimed at UK employers and potential skilled employees, this guide sheds light on the essential aspects of the skilled worker visa, highlighting recent changes and how they affect prospective applicants and their sponsors.
Who Needs a Skilled Worker Visa
Post Brexit Skilled Worker Visas are now a requirement for individuals intending to work in the UK, marking a departure from the freedom of movement previously held by all EU citizens.
Both EU and EEA citizens who arrived in the UK post-Brexit, are now subject to the same immigration requirements as non-EEA nationals. However, exceptions exist for those with pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
UK Employer Sponsorship
A valid Sponsorship Licence is a necessity for UK employers when aiming to recruit international labour on a Skilled Worker Visa. This licence is a prerequisite for legally hiring international skilled workers, ensuring that employers comply with UK immigration regulations. The process of obtaining a Sponsorship Licence involves meticulous documentation and adherence to specific criteria, highlighting the importance of engaging with immigration solicitors to streamline this complex process.
Requirements of the Skilled Worker Visa Application
The Skilled Worker Visa is only granted by the UK Home Office when several critical elements are met by applicants and their employers. Understanding these aspects is crucial for compliance with the UK’s immigration framework.
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
A fundamental requirement for a Skilled Worker Visa application is obtaining a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from an employer with a valid Skilled Worker Sponsorship Licence. This document is not a physical certificate but a unique reference number that the applicant must include in their visa application. It is proof that the individual has received a genuine job offer from a UK employer who has recognised their skills and qualifications as meeting the job’s requirements.
Genuine Vacancy Requirement
The UK immigration system requires that the job offer associated with a Skilled Worker Visa must be a “genuine vacancy”. This means the position should be legitimate, meet the appropriate skill level, and offer a salary that complies with the visa requirements. This measure was implemented to stop exploitation of the immigration system.
Immigration Skills Charge
Employers are subject to an Immigration Skills Charge when sponsoring a skilled worker from outside the EEA. This charge is made to encourage employers to source the UK labour market first, before looking elsewhere, however, certain exemptions apply, and the fee varies depending on the size of the business and the duration of the visa.
Skill Level and English Language Requirement
Applicants must demonstrate that they have the appropriate skill level for the job they are being sponsored for, typically through qualifications and work experience. Furthermore, they must meet a specified level of English language proficiency in order to ensure they can effectively communicate in their role.
New Skilled Worker Salary Threshold
The Skilled Worker Visa stipulates a minimum salary threshold, ensuring that skilled workers are compensated appropriately. As of April 4th 2024 the new salary threshold will be increased to £38,700 or the specific “going rate” set for each occupation listed in the eligible occupations. Employers must pay the higher of either the general threshold or the going rate for the job.
Shortage Occupation List
Jobs on the Shortage Occupation List are recognised by the UK Government as being in short supply within the UK labour market. Applicants for these roles may be subject to different, often more favourable, conditions such as lower salary requirements. While beneficial, inclusion on this list is not a prerequisite for a Skilled Worker Visa application.
New Skilled Worker Entrants
The current visa system offers a reduced salary threshold for individuals classified as “new entrants” to the labour market. This category includes recent graduates and those under 26, making it easier for younger or less experienced workers to qualify for the Skilled Worker visa.
Additional Visa Requirements
Beyond the primary requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa, applicants and their employers must also be aware of the potential additional requirements that are essential for a successful application. These can include financial requirements, criminal record certificates, and the Resident Labour Market Test under certain circumstances.
Financial Requirement for Applicants
Applicants for the Skilled Worker Visa must demonstrate their ability to support themselves financially once they arrive in the UK. The current requirement is to have at least £1,270 available for 28 days prior to the application. This ensures that the applicant can cover their initial living costs without needing public funds. Employers can also certify maintenance to meet this requirement on behalf of their employees, providing an alternative to applicants providing their own proof of funds.
Criminal Record Certificate
For certain job roles, particularly those involving work with vulnerable individuals, applicants may need to provide a Criminal Record Certificate from any country they have lived in for 12 months or more over the last 10 years.
Resident Labour Market Test
While the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) is no longer a blanket requirement for the Skilled Worker Visa, there are circumstances where it might still be advisable. The RLMT was designed to protect the UK labour market, requiring employers to advertise the job locally before offering it to someone from outside the EEA. Although this is not a mandatory step, employers must still demonstrate that the job offer is genuine and that the role cannot be filled by the resident workforce.
Switching Visa Routes & Extending Skilled Worker Visas
The flexibility of the Skilled Worker Visa allows for a variety of scenarios, including switching from other visa categories, extending existing visas, and ultimately, providing a route to settlement in the UK.
Switching to the Skilled Worker Visa
Individuals already in the UK on a different type of visa can apply to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa, provided they meet the eligibility criteria and have a job offer from a licensed sponsor. This flexibility is a significant advantage for those seeking to change their employment or visa status without leaving the country.
Extending the Skilled Worker Visa
Skilled Worker Visa holders can apply to extend their visa for up to five years, as long as they continue to meet the eligibility criteria. There is no limit to the number of times an individual can extend their visa.
Switching to Indefinite Leave to Remain form a Skilled Worker Visa
After five years of continuous residence in the UK on this visa, individuals may be eligible to apply for settlement, granting them permanent residency in the UK via Indefinite Leave to Remain as a skilled worker. After the 5 year period on ILR, individuals may then be eligible to apply for British Citizenship via the naturalisation route.
Immigration Conditions For Dependents
Maintaining compliance with the conditions of the Skilled Worker Visa is essential for both the visa holder and their employer. Additionally, the visa allows dependents to join or accompany the main applicant to the UK, supporting families and ensuring a smooth transition for skilled workers relocating to the UK.
Maintaining Sponsored Employment
Visa holders must remain in sponsored employment to comply with their visa conditions. If individuals fail to do so, it may result in the visa being cancelled.
Skilled Worker Visa holders can bring their dependants (partner and children under 18) to the UK, allowing families to live together.
Applying for the Skilled Worker Visa
Skilled Worker Visa applications require a high degree of attention to detail and an understanding of the specific steps involved, whether applying from outside the UK or within its borders.
The application for a Skilled Worker Visa is primarily completed online, whether the applicant is outside the UK or already residing within it. Applicants will need to provide details such as their Certificate of Sponsorship reference number, job title, and salary, alongside personal information and proof of meeting the eligibility criteria.
From Outside the UK
If you’re applying for a skilled worker visa from outside the UK, you must contact Primus’ skilled worker visa solicitors in order to submit the correct online application along with supporting documents provided by your employer, including the Certificate of Sponsorship reference code, job title, and salary details.
From Within the UK
If you’re currently in the UK, you might need a skilled worker visa if you’re changing your sponsoring employer or if your previous visa is coming near to it’s expiration date.
Skilled Worker Visa Fees & Application Processing Times
The Home Office fees for a Skilled Worker Visa varies based on the duration of the visa, whether the applicant is applying from inside or outside the UK, and the size of the sponsoring organisation.
|Skilled Worker (3 or more years)
|Skilled Worker (less than 3 years)
|Shortage Occupation List (3 or more years)
|Shortage Occupation List (Less than 3 years)
|Health and Care Visa (3 or more years)
|Health and Care Visa (Less than 3 years)
|Shortage Occupation List Health and Care Visa (3 or more years)
|Shortage Occupation List Health and Care Visa (Less than 3 years)
Applicants are also required to pay the Immigration healthcare surcharge (IHS Fee), which allows them access to the National Health Service (NHS) during their stay in the UK.
Processing times for Skilled Worker Visa applications made from outside the UK generally process within 3 week of the date of submission. Applicants can opt for a ‘priority service’ at an additional cost for faster processing of their visa application.
The UK’s Skilled Worker Visa opens doors for skilled, international professionals to contribute to the UK’s economy while providing a clear route for employers to access global labour. From understanding the eligibility criteria and application process to navigating the financial requirements and potential pathways to settlement, in this guide, we aimed to have provide a clear overview of what applicants and their sponsors need to know.
At Primus Solicitors our dedicated team is committed to all your immigration needs and breaking down the complexities of the skilled worker visa application process, ensuring a smooth path for both professionals seeking opportunities in the UK and employers aiming to enrich their teams with international talent.