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Skilled Worker Visa FAQs

Skilled Worker Visa FAQs

Feb 12, 2024
Last Updated on May 21, 2024

The UK visa application system is notoriously difficult to navigate. From visa categories to complex eligibility criteria, you’d be forgiven for glazing over when the time comes to apply for a visa. 

When you consider that visa rules and regulations are also changing frequently, it can be difficult to know if you are reading up-to-date or outdated advice online.

With this in mind, we’ve gathered some of the most common questions we hear about Skilled Worker Visas and answered them once and for all. 

If you still have questions at the end of this article, we recommend you get in touch with our team. We’re experts in Skilled Worker visas and have extensive experience assisting individuals seeking employment opportunities in the UK. 

Who qualifies for a Skilled Worker visa?

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you need to have a job offer from a registered UK visa sponsor employer. Once you have a job offer, your future employer will issue your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) which you can attach to your Skilled Worker visa application.

There are other requirements for this visa, including:

  • Your role needs to be on the list of eligible occupations.
  • You need to be paid a minimum salary, which will depend on your role. 
  • There is an English language requirement for this visa category.
  • You need to have money to support yourself when you arrive.

Is a Skilled Worker visa Tier 1 or 2?

The Skilled Worker visa replaced the Tier 2 (General Worker) visa on the 1st of December 2020. The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa was replaced by the Innovator Founder visa. It is no longer possible to apply for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 visa, and you will instead need to use the current route known as the Skilled Worker visa.

How do I get a Skilled Worker visa?

To get your Skilled Worker visa, you first need to have a job offer and a certificate of sponsorship from a UK employer that is registered with the Home Office as a visa sponsor. Once you have your certificate of sponsorship, you can prepare and submit your Skilled Worker visa application.

Applications from outside the UK will take around 3 weeks to process while applications made from inside the UK can take up to 8 weeks.

What are the 70 points for a UK Skilled Worker visa?

The Skilled Worker visa marks the switch towards a points-based visa system. Points are available for different attributes such as your salary, your education and your knowledge of the English language. 

This system allows individuals to trade points against difficult attributes. For example, you can have a lower starting salary with your role if you have a higher level of education. Those working in shortage occupations will also earn additional points towards their application.

You need to achieve 70 points to be eligible for the Skilled Worker route. 50 points of this are mandatory, and this includes 20 points for an approved job sponsor, 20 points for a role at an appropriate skill level and 10 points for knowledge of the English language.

These points form the basis of your application. You then need to find 20 points from other eligibility criteria. This includes factors such as:

  • Salary
  • Your education
  • Training in a STEM subject
  • Working in a shortage occupation

You can see the full points-based eligibility criteria on the Home Office website

Who is classed as a Skilled Worker UK?

To be classed as a skilled worker, you need to be working in one of the eligible occupations listed on the Home Office website. You also need to be earning a minimum salary, which is currently set at £26,200 per year. You can earn less than this if you are working in a shortage occupation.

Is it hard to get a Skilled Worker visa?

The hardest part of the Skilled Worker visa application process is usually securing a job offer from a UK employer. There is fierce competition for roles, and there are also added costs associated with hiring an overseas worker instead of a resident worker. This could make some employers hesitant to hire workers who need a certificate of sponsorship.

However, there are plenty of employers in the UK who are already registered as visa sponsors and are actively hiring overseas workers for roles. If you work in a shortage occupation or have highly specialised training, there is a good chance you will be able to secure a job offer that will lead to a Skilled Worker visa.

What is the minimum salary for a Skilled Worker visa?

The minimum required salary varies with each occupation, but in general, it is currently set at £26,200 per year. You can earn less than this in certain specialised and shortage roles or if you have advanced education such as a PhD in a STEM subject.

To find out if your job offer is eligible for the Skilled Worker visa route, you first need to find your role on the eligible occupations list. From here, you can also see the “going rate” for your role. You need to earn at least the going rate, or £26,200 per year, whichever is the highest. 

How much does a UK Skilled Worker visa cost?

There are multiple costs associated with the skilled worker visa, both for the employer and the employee.

The employer will pay between £536 and £1,476 for their sponsor licence. They will also have to pay £239 for each certificate of sponsorship. And finally, they will also pay the Immigration Skills Charge for the duration of the worker’s contract. This could be between £364 and £1,000 for the first 12 months of the contract and then an additional £182 to £500 for each additional 6 months.

The employee will have to pay their application fee, which is between £551 and £1,500, depending on the role. They will also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which is typically £624 per year. And finally, they will also need to show that they have enough funds to support themselves and any dependents included on their visa application. 

Can I get a Skilled Worker visa without a job offer?

No, the only way to secure a Skilled Worker visa is with a certificate of sponsorship, and this can only be obtained with a job offer from an official UK visa sponsor. 

If you are looking for work in the UK, you could visit on a Standard Visitor Visa, as job interviews are one of the permitted activities for this visa category. Once you have secured a job offer from a recognised UK visa sponsor employer, you could then leave the country and apply for a Skilled Worker visa.

It’s important to follow the correct route for living and working in the UK, as attempts to get around the regulations could make it difficult for you to secure a visa in the future. 

How much does it cost an employer to sponsor a Skilled Worker visa?

There are multiple costs associated with sponsoring a Skilled Worker visa. These charges will vary depending on the size and status of the company and also the type of worker they want to hire.

  • First, employers will have to secure their visa sponsor licence. This costs between £536 and £1,476 and is payable every 5 years.
  • Next, they will have to issue a certificate of sponsorship for every employee. This costs £239 and is payable one time.
  • Finally, they will pay the Immigration Skills Charge, which varies between £364 and £1,000 for the first 12 months of the contract and then an additional £182 to £500 for each additional 6 months.

For a ‘large’ company to hire 1 worker for five years, the total cost will be £6,715.

For a ‘small’ or ‘charitable’ company to hire 1 worker for five years, the total cost will be £2,595.

Who pays for the Skilled Worker visa?

The applicant is liable for the cost of the visa and this fee is due when they submit their application. Some employers will offer to pay the application fees as an added incentive to attract the best workers. Others will offer to reimburse your application fees in a signing bonus.

You should never have to pay an employer for a job offer and you shouldn’t have to pay for things like your certificate of sponsorship or Immigration Skills Charge. If a company is asking you to pay this, they may not be operating legitimately. 

Can I sponsor myself for a Skilled Worker visa?

Self-sponsorship is possible in some instances. This route is open to successful business people with a track record of setting up and running businesses elsewhere in the world. If you have identified a business opportunity in the UK or would like to take over a UK business, it is possible to self-sponsor your visa to be able to live and work in the UK. We have shared extensive resources on the self-sponsorship route here

Can I sponsor my friend for a Skilled Worker visa?

If you are a UK employer with a visa sponsor licence and are offering your friend a genuine job offer to come and live in the UK, you can certainly sponsor their visa application. 

However, it’s important that your job offer is genuine and that they have the skills and experience to be able to carry out the role. If you are caught sponsoring visa applications for unqualified applicants, your status as a UK visa sponsor could be placed in jeopardy. 

Can I get married on a Skilled Worker visa?

You can certainly get married in the UK while on a Skilled Worker Visa! When you apply to your local registry office to give notice of your intention to marry or form a civil partnership, your immigration status will likely trigger a process whereby your union is referred to the Home Office. This is simply to confirm that you are eligible to marry in the UK.

Once you are married, you could stay on a Skilled Worker visa, or you could switch to a Spouse Visa. Switching to the Spouse visa category would enable you to switch roles more easily. After five years of continual residence in the UK, you will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This is the first step before Citizenship.

How can A Y & J Solicitors help?

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with Skilled Worker Visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or contact us today. We’re here to help!

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Yash Dubal

Yash Dubal, Founder & Director of A Y & J Solicitors, is a renowned lawyer and entrepreneur. Known for innovative immigration law webinars, he's propelled the firm to award-winning heights. His work champions equality and accessibility, aiding UK immigrants. Yash also dedicates himself to social causes, participating in marathons for charities like the British Red Cross and Pratham. His dedication to immigrant success is unwavering.

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