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What is a UK Skilled Worker Visa?

A Skilled Worker Visa is a specific type of visa the UK offers to overseas workers with relevant skills, training, and expertise to work in the UK.  To be accepted for a Skilled Worker Visa, you will need to have a sponsor and meet the requirements under the points-based immigration system with a minimum of 70 points.

If you’re considering applying for a Skilled Worker Visa, we’ve covered all the details below. Or, if you need expert legal advice and support, get in touch with our immigration experts today to discuss how we can support you in your planned immigration to the UK.

Why Use Our Skilled Worker Visa Solicitors

Our skilled worker visa lawyers have the expertise in applying for spouse and partner visas and will help you decide the right visa option and strategy by:

  • Making sure all the necessary documentary evidence is submitted.
  • Assisting you as you fill out your UK spouse visa application, guiding you through each section.
  • Creating you a strong letter of representation to accompany your application and sponsorship if required.
  • Coordinating with the Home Office until a decision is made.


To be eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa, you’ll need to meet specific requirements defined by the UK Visas & Immigrations Department.  The main criteria that are defined in these requirements include:

  • The offer of a job through a UK employer with a sponsorship license.
  • This job must be a genuine vacancy of a suitable skill level.
  • A certificate of sponsorship must be provided by the employer, with details of the role.
  • A minimum salary threshold for the job must be met, which may vary depending on the role.
  • Competency in the English language at or above B1 level, under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
  • Proof of funds to support yourself within the UK.
  • Accurate criminal record information and TB certificate if you reside in one of the applicable countries.

All of the above conditions must be met for your application to be successful.  On approval, you can stay in the UK and work in the job detailed in your application for up to five years.

The Skilled Worker Visa is a part of the new points-based system introduced to the UK in December of 2020.  This system requires all applicants to achieve a score of at least 70 for their visa to be accepted.  Some points are mandatory, while others are tradeable.

Mandatory points include:

  • The offer of a job in the UK with a license for sponsorship: 20 points
  • The job is at an appropriate level of skill: 20 points
  • Your competency in English is at the level of B1 or better: 20 points

You may note that the mandatory points add up to 60 in total. This means if you cannot expand the number of points on your visa further, you will not be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa.

To gain additional points, you’ll need to meet one or more of these requirements:

  • Salary of £22,040-£25,599 or 90% of the profession going rate (based on which is highest): 10 points
  • Salary of £25,600 or equal to or above the going rate for the profession (based on which is highest): 20 points
  • Job in an occupation with UK shortages: 10 points
  • PhD in a relevant subject area to the role: 10 points
  • STEM PhD in a relevant subject to the role: 20 points

While salary plays a significant role in the tradeable points needed to achieve a score of 70, it is possible to achieve that score through other means.  For example, based on the UK Visas and Immigration’s current shortage occupations list, if you have a job offer in chemical science, civil engineering, or senior care work, you may be eligible based on this immediate shortage.

You are required to have a sponsor and certificate sponsorship from a suitable workplace to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa. This certificate of sponsorship should be issued by your future workplace no more than three months before your application. To issue a certificate of sponsorship, the company hiring you will need to hold a sponsorship license.

The business that sponsors you will need to pay an Immigration Skills Charge in addition. For small businesses or charities, this is £364 for the first 12 months, followed by £182 every six months following. Other companies will be required to pay £1,000 followed by £500 in the same vein.

Aside from specific roles listed as shortage occupations, individuals applying for a Skilled Worker Visa will be required to hold a job role equal to or above RQF level 3. This is the equivalent of an A-level education.

However, this skill level is determined by the role rather than personal qualifications. This means if you have extensive experience but few qualifications, you are not automatically refused your application. You will need to prove to the Home Office that you have the skills and expertise required to do the job as intended, confirming that you are a suitable hire for a genuine vacancy.

Any job offer you receive must exceed a salary of £20,480 to be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa. The salary you are provided with must be equal to or better than the going rate for that specific occupation if the average rate for that role is far higher than the minimum.

For example, if a company were to hire a scientist in the UK for £40,000, they could not then send a job offer to someone abroad with equal skills and expertise for £25,000.

Salary is a significant component of the points-based system, and any salary over £25,600 is considered most desirable to ensure approval in many cases. However, this minimum salary may not apply to specific shortage occupations, such as roles in care where the standard ‘going rate’ is below the minimum threshold.

If you feel you’re eligible to apply on the Skilled Worker Route, the next step is completing your application. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Required documentation and financial requirements

You’ll need to provide documentation as part of your application for a Skilled Worker Visa. This will include:

  • A current, valid passport or identifying document
  • The refence for your certificate of sponsorship
  • Proof of English language testing
  • Details on your job title, occupation code and salary
  • Information about your employer including sponsorship licensing information

You may also need to provide additional details, such as:

  • Bank statements proving your ability to financially support yourself and dependents
  • Proof of relationship to your partner, children, and other dependents
  • TB test results if applicable
  • Criminal record information
  • Certificate references for PhD qualifications

All paperwork not in English or Welsh must be translated appropriately through an accredited source. You’ll need to provide the original and the translation together in these cases.

If you apply from outside the UK, you will need to pay £610 per person for up to three years. For more than three years, you’ll need to pay £1,220 per person.

From inside the UK, you will need to cover fees of £704 per person for up to three years. For more than three years, you’ll need to cover £1,408 per person.

Fees are reduced for jobs currently listed as being in shortage whether you are inside the UK now or not, and you will pay a smaller cost of £464 per person for up to three years. For more than three years, you’ll pay £928 per person.

In certain countries, you’ll only need to pay £55 for your application. The latest information is available on the GOV.UK website.

In addition to your application costs, you will also need to cover the fees for Immigration Health Surcharge, which is usually £624 paid annually, and the costs of translation and English language testing.

As part of your application under the Skilled Worker Visa, you will need to prove your competence in speaking, writing, reading, and listening in English up to B1 level. This standard is defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

If you already have qualifications in English above or at GCSE level, existing test results, or you are from a country where English is the majority language, you will not need to complete an English language test.

Applications for Skilled Worker Visas are carried out online. You can apply through the same process whether you are in the UK under another visa or outside of the UK.

The first step to your application is providing identifying information. This may be through biometric data or the UK Immigration: ID Check application to scan identifying documents. Once your identity has been confirmed, you will then be able to continue with the application process.

The application itself is straightforward, and you will be provided with clear instructions of what to do at every step.  You can apply for your visa up to three months before your start date for your job.  For those outside the UK, approval should take around three weeks. Inside the UK, up to eight weeks may be required for a final decision on your application.

If the UK Visas & Immigrations Department requires more information or documentation for your application, there may be a longer wait.  Similarly, if you need to verify documents or attend an interview, there may be a longer amount of time between application and approval.

If you are concerned about the application process, our trained and qualified immigration lawyers can support you from start to finish.  Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

If you are coming to live in the UK, you will need to prove that you have sufficient English language ability. This allows you to integrate into your new community. You can take an English Language Test, which is then valid for two years.

Your test must be carried out by a Secure English Language Testing (SELT) Provider, and will contain both a speaking and listening portion.

However, you may be exempt from this requirement if you come from an English speaking country, are younger than eighteen or older than sixty-five, or have a physical or mental condition that makes this challenging for you.

You will also be exempt if you have a degree that was either researched or taught in English. The validity of this must be fully confirmed in order to qualify you for an exemption.

Your spouse or partner and children under 18 can join you in the UK as dependents under the Skilled Worker Visa.  Children over the age of 18 who are already in the UK as your dependent are also allowed.  Your family will have the same visa expiry date as your own. However, there are certain financial obligations you’ll be required to meet.

For your family to join you in the UK, you will need to prove you can provide for them or that they can financially support themselves. The amounts required are:

  • £285 for spouse or partner
  • £315 for a single child
  • £200 per each additional child

If you change jobs to a different employer or different occupation code, you will need to update your Skilled Worker Visa. You will also need to update your visa if you leave a shortage occupation. You will then need to prove that your new job meets eligibility requirements, and your new employer will need to provide a certificate of sponsorship.

You can update your visa for up to three months before starting a new role. It’s recommended to do so as early as possible to ensure approval before starting a new position.

Under specific circumstances, you’ll be eligible to extend your visa beyond the first five years of residency. These include:

  • Remaining in the same job as you applied for in your first visa.
  • Working within the same occupation code as your first application.
  • Working in a different role under the same employer who provided initial sponsorship.

A three-year extension will cost an additional £704 per person, while more than three years will cost £1,408 per person. You’ll need to provide certain information and documentation to the Home Office for your extended application.

When you’ve lived and worked in the UK for longer than five years, you can choose to apply for ILR, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain. This settlement status allows you to remain in the UK with no immigration conditions required. Once you’ve stayed in the UK for an entire year after ILR, you can finally apply for British citizenship or dual citizenship.

To meet ILR requirements, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Live continuously in the UK for five years or longer.
  • Not live outside the UK for longer than 180 days within 12 months during those five years.
  • Maintain a Home Office approved sponsor and continue to work for them.
  • Pass the Life in the UK test, covering the UK’s history, culture and traditions.

For more information on ILR, get in touch with our specialist team today. We’ll talk you through the process.

Unfortunately, there is no privilege of appeal currently available for individuals who fail their Skilled Worker Visa application. But that does not mean there is no hope. Working with an experienced immigration lawyer, you may be able to apply for a Judicial or Administrative review. If you feel you have failed unfairly, get in touch with our team today. We are here to help.

Need support in the Skilled Worker Visa application? Our professional immigration lawyers at Optimus Law can provide the help you need. Get in touch with our team today to find out more about how we can support you.


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