To be eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker visa, you must:
Have a job with a Home Office approved UK employer
Have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your employer
Have a proven knowledge of English
Have a job that’s on the eligible occupations list
Be paid a minimum salary. Please see the ‘going rates table’ to find the minimum salary for your occupation for reference. Please note: if your annual salary is at least £20,480, you can be paid between 70-90% of the usual going rate for your occupation. This only applies when certain exemption criterias are met.
Do you need to have a certain level of English to apply for a Skilled Worker visa?
Yes. You need to be able to prove that you can read, write, speak and understand English to level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
You can prove your level of proficiency in English by:
passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT)
passing your GCSEs, A levels, Scottish National Qualifications level 4 or 5, Scottish Highers or Advanced Highers, in English
having studied in English for a degree-level academic qualification. If you studied abroad, you’ll need to apply to confirm that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD. You can apply through UK NARIC
However, if you are a national of the following countries, you don’t need to prove your knowledge of English:
Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, the USA.
Please note, you don’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you have previously passed an English Language assessment that is accepted by the relevant regulated professional body.
Points-based system, explained
The points-based immigration system used in the UK means that an individual must meet a specific set of requirements in order to be eligible for a visa.
In order to be eligible for the Skilled Worker visa, you must have 70 points.
Points you can be awarded with:
For non-tradable (i.e. these are mandatory) categories:
20 points – for having a job offer from an approved sponsor employer
20 points – if you are going to work in a high skilled job
10 points – if you have a high level of English proficiency
For tradeable categories:
20 points – if your salary is more than £25,600
10 points – if your salary is between £23,040 – £25,599
0 points – if your salary is between £20,480 – £23,039
20 points – if your job is listed on the shortage occupation list
10 points – if you have a PhD related to your job
20 points – if your PhD is within STEM
So basically, you will be awarded 50 points for meeting the non-tradable categories and then you can make up the other 20 points from any of the tradeable categories.
Therefore, if your salary is above £25,600, you don’t need to worry about meeting the other tradeable categories.
How long can you stay in the UK when you’re on a Skilled Worker visa?
You will be allowed to stay in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa for up to five years. After that, you will need to apply to extend your visa, once you meet the eligibility requirements mentioned above.
In addition to this, after five years, you might be eligible to apply to settle permanently in the UK, ie. for ‘indefinite leave to remain’.
In order to be eligible to apply, you must have spent five years on the visa, with no gap of more than 180 days outside of the UK (with a few exceptions, like medical conditions etc).
How do you apply for a Skilled Worker visa?
Applying from outside the UK
You can apply for your Skilled Worker visa online. You will need to prove your identity as part of the application. You can either do this by visiting a visa application centre or by using the UK Immigration: ID Check app.
A decision should be processed on your application within three weeks.
If you wish to bring your partner and/or children to the UK with you, they must apply separately for a Partner Dependant visa or a Child Dependant visa. If their application is approved, their visa validity will be the same as the Skilled Worker visa.
Applying from the UK to extend or switch your visa
You must apply to extend or switch your visa before your current visa expires.
If you want to change your job or employer, you need to apply to update your visa.
Once your application to update or extend your visa is submitted, a decision will be ready within 8 weeks.
Please note, if your partner or children are in the UK on a visa other than a Partner Dependant, Child Dependant or Skilled Worker visa, they cannot apply for a Skilled Visa from within the UK. They will need to apply from outside of the UK.
You will need the following documents to submit your visa application:
The reference number on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) that your sponsor employer assigned to you. If your CoS was issued to you before 1 December 2020, your employer will need to update it as the Tier 2 ‘General visa’ is now the ‘Skilled Worker visa’. This can be updated through the ‘sponsor notes’ section
The name of your sponsor employer and their sponsor number
Proof of your level of English
The occupation code for your job in the UK
Your bank statement (unless your CoS states that your employer will sponsor you)
You may also be required to show:
Proof of your relationship – if your partner and/or children are applying too
Your Tuberculosis test results, if applicable for the country where you are coming from
Your criminal record certificate, if you work in the education, healthcare, therapy or social services sectors
Your UK PhD certificate or the unique UK NARIC reference number, if you:
Will use your degree to provide evidence of your level of English proficiency
Will use your PhD for tradeable points for the Skilled Worker visa
That you have a blank page in your passport for your visa, if you:
Are from outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
Don’t have a biometric passport with a chip and are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
As mentioned above, it takes three weeks for a decision to be made on an application for a Skilled Worker visa.
It takes eight weeks for an application for an extension or update to a Skilled Worker visa.
How much does it cost?
The application fee for a Skilled Worker visa costs between £610 and £1,408, depending on the circumstances below.
If you are applying from outside the UK, the fee will be dependant on the time you will spend in the UK:
Up to three years – £610
More than three years – £1,220
If you are applying to extend, switch or update your visa from inside the UK, the fee will be dependant on the time you will spend in the UK:
Up to three years – £704
More than three years – £1,408
If your job is on the shortage occupation list, you, your partner and children will have a lower application fee depending on the time you will spend in the UK:
Up to three years – £464
More than three years – £928
If you’re from one of the following countries, your application fee will be automatically reduced by £55.
Republic of Cyprus
This reduction only applies to your visa application. Your partner and children will still pay the full application fee.
You will also be required to pay the healthcare surcharge, which is currently £624 per year.
You are required to have sufficient funds to support yourself when you arrive in the UK. You will need to have £1,270 available funds for at least 28 consecutive days and day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for your visa.
However, you do not need to provide proof of sufficient funds if:
You have been in the UK for at least 12 months with a valid visa
Your sponsor employer is willing to support you and has marked ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ on your CoS
Your partner and children will also need to provide proof that they have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the UK.
Conditions you must follow when on a Skilled Worker visa
When in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa, you can:
Have a job that is approved as eligible
Bring your partner and children. If they’re eligible, they can apply for a Partner Dependant visa or a Child Dependant visa
Have an additional job, in certain circumstances
Do volunteer work
Travel abroad and return to the UK
Apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’. If you have lived in the UK for five years, you can apply to settle permanently, as long as you meet the eligibility requirements
However, you cannot:
Apply for most public fund benefits or the state pension
Change your job or employer, unless you apply to update your visa
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