What Is a Skilled Worker Visa?
If you are reading this blog post, you are probably wondering the answer to the question ‘what is a skilled worker visa?’
Well, we will outline everything you need to know.
A Skilled Worker Visa is a document which allows qualifying individuals to come to the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer.
This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. It is the main immigration route into the UK for non-UK workers.
You must have a job offer before you apply for a skilled worker visa.
The Home Office processes all applications for a skilled worker visa.
Your visa is only valid for the time you stay in the same role with your sponsoring employer.
Read out the blog post on why are there delays for skilled worker visa applications here.
How much does a skilled worker visa cost?
- The application fee ranges from £625 to £1,423, depending on your circumstances.
- You will also pay the healthcare surcharge – which is £624 per year unless you are applying for a health and care worker visa.
- You will need to prove that you have at least £1,270 in your bank account, to support yourself in the UK.
- If your job is on the ‘shortage occupation’ list, you will pay a lower application fee.
- You will be told what the exact fees are when you apply.
If you are applying from outside the UK, you will pay £625 per person (if you are staying in the UK for up to 3 years), or £1,235 (if you are staying in the UK for more than 3 years).
If you are applying from inside the UK to extend, switch or update your visa, the fee is £719 per person (if you are staying in the UK for up to 3 years), or £1,423 per person (if you are staying in the UK more than 3 years).
Who is eligible for a skilled worker visa?
To qualify for a skilled worker visa, you must:
- work for a UK employer that has been approved by the Home Office
- have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you have been offered in the UK
- do a job that is on the list of eligible occupations
- be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work you do
Prove you can read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
How long can you stay in the UK on a skilled worker visa?
Not sure what is a skilled worker visa length time? Your visa can last for up to 5 years.
If you wish to extend your visa, you will have to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires, or if you change jobs or employers.
How can you extend a skilled worker visa?
Apply online – click here to view the guidance and fill in the application form.
If you want to extend your skilled worker visa, you must:
- have the same job as when you were given your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK
- your job must be in the same occupation code as when you were given your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK
- be still working for the employer who gave you your current certificate of sponsorship
How do you apply for a skilled worker visa?
- Secure a job offer from a licenced sponsor in the UK
- Receive a Certificate of Sponsorship from your UK employer
- Have all your supporting documents to hand and upload them when needed
- Apply online via the GOV.UK website.
- Pay the application fee
- Arrange an appointment to have your biometric information was taken (photo and fingerprints)
You will need the following supporting documents:
- your Certificate of Sponsorship reference number – your employer will give you this
- proof of your knowledge of English
- a valid passport or another document that shows your identity and nationality
- your job title and annual salary
- your job’s occupation code
- the name of your employer and their sponsor licence number – this will be on your Certificate of Sponsorship
If you do not have a copy of your Certificate of Sponsorship, you must ask your employer to provide you with one.
Depending on your circumstances, you may also be asked to provide:
- Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself in the UK (e.g. bank statement which shows you have at least £1,270).
- proof of your relationship with your partner and children if they are applying with you (e.g. marriage certificate, or child’s birth certificate.)
- Tuberculosis test results.
- A criminal record certificate.
- A valid ATAS certificate.
- Your UK PhD certificate or your unique Ecctis reference number.
- Certified translation of your documents, if they are not in English or Welsh.
- A blank page in your passport for your visa.
What jobs are considered for skilled workers in the UK?
Check the GOV.UK website here to see which jobs are eligible for a skilled worker visa.
Every job has a 4-digit occupation code. You will need to know your job’s occupation code before you can check if your job is eligible for a skilled worker visa.
Use the ONS Occupation Coding Tool to find out the occupation code for your job, or the most similar job if you cannot find your exact job title. Make sure the job description matches the tasks you will be doing in the role.
Once you know your job’s occupation code, use this table of eligible jobs, to see if your job is included.
Are there salary requirements for a skilled worker visa?
Yes, your job will usually have to pay you at least £25,600 per year or £10.10 per hour, whichever is higher.
If the ‘going-rate’ for your job is higher than both of these, you’ll usually need to be paid at least the going rate.
Each occupation has its own annual going rate. Click here to view the going rate for jobs.
In the UK, there is a shortage of certain jobs. If you are coming to the UK to do a job on the ‘shortage occupations’ list, you and your family will pay a lower application fee.
Click here to check if your job is on the ‘shortage occupation’ list in health and education.
If your job is on the list, the reduced fee for each person applying is:
- £479 if you’re staying for up to 3 years
- £943 if you’re staying for more than 3 years
The fee is the same whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.
Can I bring my partner and children with me to the UK on a skilled worker visa?
Yes, you can apply to bring your partner and children with you to the UK as your ‘dependents’.
They will have to complete in separate applications.
You must provide evidence of your relationship when you apply (e.g. marriage certificate or child’s birth certificate).
You must also provide proof that your partner and children have enough money to support themselves while they are in the UK-
You – or your partner or child – will need:
- £285 for your partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
Click here to view the guidance on bringing dependants to the UK on a skilled worker visa.
If you are on a skilled worker visa and your child is born in the UK, this does not automatically qualify your child for British citizenship.
What is a skilled worker visa refusal?
Your application can be rejected, which will deny you the skilled worker visa.
Applications are usually refused because:
- You do not meet the salary requirements for the job
- You have provided incorrect or insufficient information
- Your supporting documents are incorrect or not genuine
- Your application is falsified or fraudulent
- UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) does not believe you are a genuine applicant
- You have broken UK immigration laws
- UKVI does not believe you are suitable for the job (e.g. if you have previously been excluded, deported or are a persistent offender)
- You do not meet the skill requirements for the job
- You don’t have enough funds to support yourself (at least £1,270 in your bank account)
What happens after my skilled worker visa application is refused?
Your refusal letter should contain the reasons why your application was rejected and the steps you can take next.
You will be able to:
- Apply for an administrative review
- Apply for a judicial review
- Submit a new application
What happens if you come to the UK on a skilled worker visa and then you change your job or employer?
You must apply to update your visa online.
You can continue working in your current job while your new application is being considered, or work out your notice period – as long as you apply before your current visa expires.
But you cannot start your new job until you’ve got confirmation of your new permission.
You will usually hear back with a decision within 8 weeks. You may be able to pay to get a faster decision.
Can I cancel my application for a skilled worker visa?
Yes, you can request to cancel your application.
You will only get your fee refunded if UKVI has not started processing your application.
You will get an email/letter containing the decision on your application. This will explain what you need to do next.
I am a UK employer and I want to hire a foreign worker on a skilled visa. What do I need to know?
- You must be a genuine and operational company that is lawfully trading in the UK.
- You must hold a valid skilled worker sponsor licence, in order to hire non-UK resident workers.
- Your company must be on the list of licenced sponsors, approved by the Home Office.
- You must check that the candidate is suitable for the job role and eligible for the skilled worker visa route.
- You must assign a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the foreign worker so that they can successfully apply for a skilled worker visa.
- You must not hire foreign workers illegally.
- Your HR system must help you keep track of sponsored workers and their documentation.
- You must pay foreign workers the required minimum salary.
Visit the GOV.UK website here to see the full guidance for employers who wish to sponsor foreign workers.
We hope you now have the answer to the question ‘what is a skilled worker visa?’