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Transitioning from a UK Graduate Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa

Individuals holding a UK Graduate Visa (previously referred to as the PSW visa) who have secured a job offer from a UK employer possessing a sponsor licence, may qualify for a switch to a UK Skilled Worker Visa. This transition allows individuals who originally arrived in the UK for educational purposes to continue residing in the nation based on skilled employment.

Understanding Graduate Visas

A Graduate Visa is valid for 2 years and is intended for individuals who have completed their studies in the UK. Holders of this visa can work for any UK employer during its validity. However, to continue residing in the UK post-graduation, switching to a visa like the Skilled Worker Visa is necessary if the individual receives a suitable job offer.

Employer’s Role in the Transition

For an employer to sponsor a Graduate Visa holder under the Skilled Worker Visa, they must possess a valid sponsor licence. This licence is important as it allows the business to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship, essential for the visa application process.

Key Requirements for Applicants

To be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa, applicants must:

  1. Secure a Job Offer: The job must be with a UK employer that holds a sponsor licence and be on the official list of eligible occupations as per the UK Home Office. Each occupation has a Standard Occupational Code (SOC), and the job offer must align with one of these codes.
  2. Meet the Salary Threshold: The minimum salary requirement is £38,700 annually or the ‘going rate’ for the job, whichever is higher. Variations in this threshold apply depending on the applicant’s age, educational background, and specific circumstances.
  3. Fulfil Language Requirements: Applicants must prove their English proficiency, either by passing a Secured English Language Test (SELT) at level B1 or higher of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), or by having a relevant UK degree or secondary education qualification taught in English.

Employer Requirements for Sponsorship

Employers seeking to sponsor skilled workers must demonstrate that:

  • They offer a genuine job that fits the skilled worker criteria.
  • The business is legitimate and complies with UK law.
  • They can pay a salary that meets the required threshold for the specific job.
  • There are no unspent criminal convictions related to immigration offences or other serious crimes.
  • Their sponsor licence has not been revoked within the last 12 months.
  • Adequate systems are in place to manage sponsorship duties.

Costs Involved

  • For Employees: Switching visas entails an application fee ranging from £827 (for up to 3 years) to £1,636 (for more than 3 years). Additionally, there is a healthcare surcharge of £1,035 per person per year.
  • For Employers: Without a sponsor licence, the application fee is £1,476 for medium or large sponsors, and £536 for small or charitable sponsors. Issuing each certificate of sponsorship costs £239, alongside an immigration skills charge which varies based on the size of the sponsor.

Transitioning from a Graduate Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa involves meticulous planning and adherence to specific legal requirements. Applicants and employers must both ensure compliance to facilitate a smooth transition that benefits both parties and aligns with UK immigration laws.