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Discover everything you need to know about the Skilled Worker Visa

Jun 04, 2024

The Skilled Worker Visa is designed for skilled individuals who wish to work in an eligible role in the UK

What is a skilled worker visa?

The skilled worker visa enables UK employers to address skill shortages within their workforce by hiring skilled foreign workers. If a worker meets the eligibility criteria, they can work in the UK for an initial period of up to five years. The duration of the visa is determined by their certificate of sponsorship. After this period, the worker may extend their visa or apply for indefinite leave to remain if they wish to stay in the UK.

Who is eligible for a skilled worker visa?

To be eligible for a skilled worker visa, a worker must meet the following eligibility criteria:
• Be at least 18 years of age.
• Have a job offer from a UK employer that has been approved by the Home Office for a role at an appropriate skill level.
• Have a valid certificate of sponsorship (CoS) from a lawfully operating UK business.
• Speak English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages;
• Have at least £1,270 in their bank account (the future employer can agree to cover this by certifying maintenance on the CoS);
• Earn the minimum qualifying salary of £38,700 per year or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher. A lower salary may be paid where:
• the applicant is applying for a Health and Care Worker Visa in certain occupations
• a worker was sponsored before 4 April 2024 and/or has continuously held a skilled worker visa since then
• a role is listed on the immigration salary list.
• the applicant is under 26 years of age, studying, a recent graduate or in professional training
• the applicant has a PhD in a field that is relevant to their job or postdoctoral position in science or higher education.

Self-sponsorship of a skilled worker visa

If workers plan to set up their businesses in the UK, they can sponsor themselves for a skilled worker visa. Their business must obtain a sponsor licence before they can sponsor themselves for a skilled worker visa.

How much does a skilled worker visa cost?

The worker must pay an application fee for their skilled worker visa. The fee varies depending on their circumstances and will be between £551 and £1,636.

Job TypeApplication Fee (Up to 3 Years)Application Fee (3-5 years)
Standard £719 (applying outside UK)
£827 (applying inside UK)
£1,420 (applying outside UK)
£1,636 (applying inside UK)
Included on Immigration Salary List£551£1084

In addition to this, the worker will need to pay the immigration health surcharge, which costs up to £1,035 per year. In some circumstances, there will also be a biometric enrolment fee.

The visa application fee and immigration health surcharge are paid upfront when the application is submitted.

Supporting documents

To support the application, the worker will need to provide a few supporting documents. The documents they will need to provide will vary depending on their circumstances. Examples include:

  • Proof of identity, such as a passport
  • The certificate of sponsorship reference number that will have been provided by the sponsoring employer
  • The name of the future employer and their sponsor licence number
  • Proof that the worker speaks English to the required level, such as a degree certificate or an accredited test certificate.
  • The worker’s job title
  • The worker’s salary
  • The occupation code of the job
  • Evidence of the required financial support

This is not an exhaustive list, and it is crucial to get it right or the application will be rejected. Our expert immigration advisers can guide you through the process.

Applying for a skilled worker visa

Once the worker has obtained a certificate of sponsorship and collated their supporting documentation, they can apply for a skilled worker visa. They will need to complete an online application within three months of receiving their certificate of sponsorship.

The applicant will need to make the payment once they have completed their application — failure to do so will result in the application being rejected.

As part of the application process, the applicant may need to arrange an appointment at a visa application centre to provide their biometric information.

The applicant should receive a response to their application within three weeks for applications submitted overseas, or within eight weeks for applications made inside the UK.

Skilled worker visas on change of employment

If a worker loses their job or applies for a different job with another employer, they will need to apply for a new skilled worker visa. There are also circumstances when a worker may need to apply for a new skilled worker visa when changing jobs within the same company. For example, if their job occupation code changes or if their existing visa is for a role on the immigration salary list and they are moving to a new role which is not.

For expert advice and assistance with a Sponsor Licence application or Skilled Worker visa application, including applications for roles on the UK Immigration Salary List, contact 01403 801801 or [email protected]

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