Skilled Worker Visa

The Skilled Worker Visa is a prominent immigration route designed for individuals of all nationalities who possess valuable skills and have a job offer from a UK employer. This visa category aims to address labor shortages in specific industries by allowing skilled workers to contribute to the UK workforce. Successful applicants can work for a specific employer, with potential pathways to settlement and opportunities for dependents to join them in the UK.

To qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, applicants must meet strict eligibility criteria set by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI):


1. Age Requirement: Applicants must be at least 18 years old at the time of application.
2. Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): A valid CoS from a licensed UK employer is essential, confirming the job offer and relevant details.
3. Genuine Job Offer: The job offer must be genuine and meet specific requirements regarding skill level, salary, and sponsorship.
4. Skill Level: The job must meet or exceed the required skill level, typically assessed using the UK’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system.
5. Salary Threshold: The offered salary must meet minimum thresholds determined by the Home Office, varying based on factors such as occupation and location.
6. Immigration Skills Charge: Employers must pay the Immigration Skills Charge for each sponsored worker.
7. English Language Proficiency: Applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency at or above CEFR Level B1.
8. Financial Resources: Applicants must have sufficient funds to support themselves and any dependents without relying on public funds.
9. Documentation: Necessary documents, including criminal record and tuberculosis (TB) certificates, must be provided if required.

To be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa, you need a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by a Home Office-authorized employer for the specific job you intend to undertake. Here’s what’s required regarding your CoS:

• Your sponsor must hold an A-rated status on the Home Office’s licensed sponsors register, unless you’re continuing to work for the same sponsor from your last Skilled Worker permission.
• The CoS should have been issued within the last 3 months before your Skilled Worker visa application date.
• Crucial information such as your name, job details, salary, and a start date (within 3 months of your visa application) must be included.
• It must also confirm that the CoS hasn’t been previously used in a successful or unsuccessful application and hasn’t been withdrawn by the sponsor or canceled by the Home Office.

To obtain a Skilled Worker Visa, you must demonstrate to the Home Office that the job you’re being sponsored for is genuine and that you possess the capability to perform the assigned role. Here are the key points:

• It’s essential to prove that the vacancy you’re being sponsored for is real and not fabricated solely for visa purposes. If there are reasonable doubts regarding the existence or authenticity of the job, your application may be rejected.
• Additionally, you must show that you’re not involved in any arrangements aimed at filling temporary or permanent positions or undertaking contract work that primarily serves a third party other than your sponsor. This ensures that the employment is genuine and not designed to circumvent visa requirements.

Employers must pay the Immigration Skills Charge for each sponsored worker, contributing to funding for skills development programs in the UK.

To qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, the position you’re being sponsored for must meet certain skill level requirements. Here are the key details:

• The job must be at or above a minimum skill level, typically equivalent to RQF level 3, which is roughly comparable to A-level qualifications.
• Formal qualifications are not always necessary to meet the skill level requirement. Instead, it’s the nature of the job itself that determines whether it meets the threshold.
• Eligible jobs are listed in the Appendix Skilled Occupations and Appendix Immigration Salary List, each with a corresponding SOC 2020 occupation code. Your sponsored job must fall under one of these eligible codes, unless you’re extending as a care worker or home carer, in which case different rules apply.
• Your sponsor must select the appropriate occupation code for your role. If the Home Office suspects that an incorrect code has been chosen, your visa application may be refused.
• When assessing the chosen occupation code, the Home Office considers factors such as the genuine need for the job, your suitability in terms of skills, qualifications, and experience, as well as your sponsor’s compliance history with immigration regulations.

To qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, you must demonstrate proficiency in the English language according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Here’s how you can meet this requirement:


• You need to exhibit proficiency in all four components of the language – reading, writing, speaking, and listening – at least at level B1, which is considered intermediate level.

Prospective employees applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as a Skilled Worker can satisfy the English language requirement through various means:


1. Nationality: If you are a national of a majority English-speaking country, you automatically fulfill the English language requirement.

2. Secure English Language Test (SELT): Passing a SELT is another way to demonstrate English proficiency. This test evaluates your language skills in various contexts and is widely accepted as proof of language ability.

3. Degree Taught in English: If you have been awarded a degree that was taught in English, this can serve as evidence of your language proficiency.

4. GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English: If you have obtained qualifications such as GCSEs, A Levels, or Scottish Highers in English while studying in the UK, this can demonstrate your English language skills.

5. Previous Successful Application: If you have previously demonstrated proficiency at level B1 or higher in a successful application for entry clearance or permission to stay, this can fulfill the English language requirement for your Skilled Worker Visa application.

Employers seeking to recruit under the Skilled Worker route must adhere to specific salary requirements, balancing the general salary threshold and the going rate for the applicable SOC 2020 occupation code. Here’s an overview of the salary criteria:


1. General Salary Threshold: For most jobs, the general salary threshold stands at £38,700 per year. However, exceptions apply:
• For workers granted permission as a Skilled Worker before April 4, 2024, and applying before April 4, 2030, the general salary threshold is £29,000.
• For workers sponsored for a Health and Care ASHE salary job, or in Health or Education SOC 2020 occupation codes based on national pay scales, the threshold is £29,000.
• For workers in certain scenarios, the general salary threshold may be £34,830, £30,960, £26,100, or £23,200, depending on tradable points earned (see below).


2. Going Rate: The salary offered must also meet or exceed the applicable ‘going rate’ for the SOC 2020 occupation code listed in Appendix Skilled Occupations. If the general salary threshold exceeds the going rate for the occupation, the worker must be paid at least the general salary threshold.


3. Calculation of Salary Thresholds: The general salary threshold is based on actual gross earnings, typically up to 48 hours per week. However, variations in weekly working hours are accommodated, considering an average over a regular cycle of up to 17 weeks. The going rate is calculated based on a 37.5-hour working week and must be pro-rated based on the weekly working hours stated on the certificate of sponsorship (CoS).

These salary requirements ensure that skilled workers are remunerated appropriately and fairly in accordance with their occupation and the prevailing market rates.

Some sponsored skilled workers may receive tradable points based on various attributes, allowing them to be paid less than £38,700 per year while still meeting the salary criteria. These points are awarded for the following:


  1. PhD Qualification : A worker with a relevant PhD qualification may be paid a salary equaling or exceeding £34,830 per year and 90% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code.If the PhD is in a STEM subject relevant to the job, the salary must equal or exceed £30,960 per year and 80% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code.
  2. Job Offer on the Immigration Salary List: Workers with a job offer on the Immigration Salary List may be paid a salary equaling or exceeding £30,960 per year and the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code.
  3. New Entrant to the Labour Market: New entrants to the labour market, such as those under 26 at the application date or those in specific postdoctoral research positions, may be paid a salary equaling or exceeding £30,960 per year and 70% of the going rate for the SOC 2020 occupation code.
  1. Skilled Workers Granted Before 4 April 2024: Workers granted permission as a Skilled Worker before 4 April 2024 and continuously holding permission can be paid a salary equaling or exceeding £29,000 per year. The salary must also meet the applicable going rate.


  1. Health and Care Visa Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) Applicants: ASHE applicants must be paid a salary equaling or exceeding £29,000 per year, or as per tradable points, along with meeting the applicable going rate.


  1. Health and Education SOC 2020 Occupation Codes Based on National Pay Scales: Workers in these categories must be paid a salary equaling or exceeding £23,200 per year, meeting the applicable going rate.
Most SOC 2020 occupation codes require a minimum hourly rate of £15.88, regardless of tradable points. However, for workers granted permission before 4 April 2024 and those in Health and Care ASHE jobs, the minimum hourly rate is £11.90.

To satisfy the financial requirement for a Skilled Worker Visa, you generally need to demonstrate access to at least £1,270 in available cash funds. Here are the key points regarding the financial requirement:


  1. Minimum Cash Funds: You must have access to at least £1,270 in cash funds. These funds must have been held for a continuous period of at least 28 days, ending no more than 31 days before your Skilled Worker Visa application date.


  1. Exemption with A-rated Sponsor: If your sponsor is fully ‘A-rated’ and agrees to cover your maintenance costs for the first month of employment, up to £1,270 if necessary, you are exempt from the financial requirement. Your sponsor must confirm this commitment on your Certificate of Sponsorship.


  1. Exemption for Long-term Residents: If you’ve been residing in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer at the time of application, you are considered exempt from the financial requirement.

Understanding these exemptions and requirements ensures applicants are prepared to fulfill the financial aspect of the Skilled Worker Visa application process.

When applying for entry clearance and being sponsored for specific roles primarily in the health, care, welfare, and education sectors, you may be required to provide a criminal record certificate for any country where you have been present for 12 months or more since the age of 18.

Unlike previous immigration routes, there is no requirement for employers to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test to prove the unavailability of local talent. However, employers must still meet other obligations to ensure compliance.

If you currently hold leave to remain in another immigration category, you have the option to extend your stay by switching into the Skilled Worker route, with a few exceptions. However, if you have permission or were last granted permission under certain categories like Visitor, Short-term student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household, or outside the Immigration Rules, you cannot switch into the Skilled Worker route.

If you have permission as a Student, you can switch to the Skilled Worker Visa route under the following conditions:


  • Completion of Studies: You have completed the course of study for which your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) was assigned.
  • Course Completion Date: The course concluded before the start date on your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).
  • PhD Studies: If the course was leading to a PhD award, you must have completed at least 24 months of the course to be eligible to switch to the Skilled Worker route.

Upon approval of your Skilled Worker Visa application, you will receive entry clearance or permission to stay in the UK. This permission will be granted for a duration extending 14 days beyond the end date specified on your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The CoS can have a validity period of up to a maximum of 5 years from the start date specified on it. Therefore, your visa or permission to stay will align with the duration specified on your CoS, allowing you to reside and work in the UK legally for that period.

To qualify for Settlement as a Skilled Worker, you must meet the following criteria as determined by UK Visas and Immigration:  
  1. Residency Requirement: You have resided continuously in the UK for a period of 5 years.
  1. Eligible Routes: The 5-year continuous period must include time spent with permission on one or a combination of the following immigration routes: Skilled Worker, Global Talent, Innovator Founder, T2 Minister of Religion, International Sportsperson, Representative of an Overseas Business, Tier 1 Migrant (excluding Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur) or Scale-up.
  1. Absence Limit: You have not been outside the UK for more than 180 days in each year of the 5-year continuous period.
  1. Life in the UK Test: You have successfully passed the Life in the UK test, unless you are 65 years old or over.
  1. Sponsor Approval: Your sponsor remains an approved sponsor by the Home Office.
6.Employment Requirement: Your sponsor still requires your services for the foreseeable future, and you will continue to be paid at least the general salary threshold or the going rate for settlement as a Skilled Worker, whichever is higher.

Skilled Workers may be joined or accompanied by a dependent partner over the age of  18 and/or or a dependent child under the age of 18.

Our team of immigration barristers provides comprehensive assistance to employers and skilled workers navigating the Skilled Worker Visa process. We offer tailored advice, assist with visa applications, ensure compliance with regulations, and provide ongoing support throughout the immigration journey.

How can our Immigration lawyer can help you with your immigration matter.

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