How to make a valid skilled worker visa application?
There are a huge number of people making UK visa applications every year.
According to an official government factsheet, “UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) received more than 3.3 million visa applications in the year ending June 2019, of which almost 2.9 million were granted”.
Visa applications are complex and rule-bound and there are strict guidelines on how to make a valid application, which apply to everyone. Under the New Points-Based System (2021), specific additional requirements were introduced for certain visa categories to be validated, including Skilled Worker visa applications.
The Home Office will not normally overlook the rules on making a valid application, despite the fact that you meet all the other requirements of the visa.
If you follow the rules, your valid application will be accepted by the Home Office for consideration.
If you do not follow the rules, your invalid application will not be considered by the Home Office, and you may face negative repercussions, following the rejection of your application.
How to make a valid Skilled Worker visa application and consequences of invalidation are considered in more detail below.
The Rules: Validity Requirements
Paragraph 34 of the Immigration Rules stipulates the validity requirements for visa applications submitted from inside the UK. This includes, but is not limited to, applications for leave to remain as a Skilled Worker.
The following requirements must be met to make a valid leave to remain application:
- The correct application form must used
- Mandatory sections of the application form must be fully completed
- The correct fees must be paid
- Proof of identity must be submitted (unless an exception applies)
- Biometric data must be enrolled (in line with the government approved process)
Your Skilled Worker leave to remain application must be made in accordance with Paragraph 34. If these strict requirements are not met, your visa application will be considered invalid and your application will not be considered by the Home Office.
Paragraph 34 also contains a provision stating that the Home Office must give you at least one opportunity to correct the error or omission that would make your application invalid. The deadline for correction should be specified in writing to you, in a “notification” or warning.
Notice of Invalidity
Paragraph 34 confirms that if you do not comply with the first warning, then the Home Office can and will invalidate your application. The Home Office have some discretion under the rules to treat an invalid application as valid, provided the fee, relevant proof of identity and biometrics are submitted.
If the application is declared invalid, you will be issued with a formal notice of invalidity which will be officially “served” (or delivered) to you in accordance with Appendix SN of the Immigration Rules.
If your application is invalidated, the Home Office will refund your visa application fee. Under the Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations, the Home Office is lawfully permitted to retain a £25 administrative fee for processing the invalidation.
The Rules: Validity Requirements for Skilled Workers
Additional validity requirements for Skilled Workers exist in parallel to the requirements of Paragraph 34 of the Rules.
Under the Immigration Rules “Appendix Skilled Worker: Validity Requirements for a Skilled Worker” you can discover the exact requirements that need to be met to make a valid application for entry clearance or leave to remain as a Skilled Worker.
The validity requirements listed in Appendix Skilled Worker largely echo the validity requirements contained Paragraph 34: you must use the correct form, pay the correct fee, submit evidence of identity and enrol biometrics.
However, there are some very specific additional grounds for invalidation that apply to Skilled Workers:-
- The applicant must be over 18 years old
- A government sponsored student who received an award or scholarship (covering fees and living costs in the UK) in the previous 12 months before the application must submit written consent to the application from their sponsoring Government or Agency
- Where applying for leave to remain, the applicant must not have (or have been last been granted) leave as a visitor, short-term student, Parent of a Child, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker or outside the Immigration Rules
- The applicant must have a certificate of sponsorship that has not expired (was assigned no more than 3 months before the date of visa application)
Consequences of Invalidation
When an application is rejected as invalid, it is as though your Skilled Worker application was never submitted. You will not benefit from statutory “3C leave” (i.e. leave to remain automatically extended by virtue of a pending application).
Practically speaking, this means that even if you submitted your Skilled Worker application before your visa expiry, if you receive your invalidation notice after the expiry date of your visa, that makes you an overstayer (from the date your visa expired).
As an overstayer, you would have no right to work and may even cease to be eligible to make a further Skilled Worker application from inside the UK.
You need to be aware of the validity requirements contained in the Immigration Rules, including both the general requirements for making a valid application and the route-specific requirements for Skilled Worker visa applications.
If your application is rejected as invalid, you would receive a refund of your application fee and, in most cases, will have a chance to reapply.
An unexpected invalidation of your Skilled Worker visa, however, could have serious consequences. You could unintentionally become an overstayer, particularly if you applied for your visa from inside the UK, close to your current visa expiry date.
In conclusion, whilst you may be eager to arrange a new UK visa, if your application isn’t validly submitted, you will face disappointment. Avoid wasted time and effort and sidestep the negative impact on your immigration history (and personal life), caused by an invalidation.
If you choose us as your legal representative, we eliminate the risk of your application being invalidated, by working with you to ensure that all the validity requirements for your skilled worker application are fully satisfied. We support you every step of the way, with expert knowledge, towards a successful application.
A Y & J Solicitors is a legal 500, multi-award-winning law practice with extensive experience work-related UK visa applications.