Skilled Worker Visa Requirements 2024

by | Jun 7, 2024 | UK Immigration, Uncategorized, Work Visa

The Skilled Worker Visa offers a route for international professionals seeking employment in the UK. Replacing the Tier 2 visa, it aims to attract skilled workers from any country to address critical gaps in the UK job market. Here, we outline the 2024 application requirements, documents, process, and key considerations.

You can apply for a Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK, or switch from a different visa category from within the UK.

What is the UK Skilled Worker Visa?

The UK Skilled Worker Visa is a long-term work visa that allows international workers to come to the UK and work for an approved employer in an eligible occupation. This visa can be granted for up to five years, depending on the duration specified in your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). One of the key benefits of the Skilled Worker Visa is the potential pathway to indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after five years of continuous residence in the UK, and eventually British citizenship.

Eligibility and Requirements

To be eligible for the UK Skilled Worker Visa, you must meet several criteria, including:

1. Job Offer from a UK Employer

You must have a confirmed job offer from an approved UK employer who holds a valid sponsor license issued by the Home Office. The job offer must be for a role that is listed as an eligible occupation. Your job offer must come from a business listed on the Home Office’s list of licensed sponsors. Ensure your employer has an A-rating, as B-rated employers cannot issue new Certificates of Sponsorship until they meet compliance requirements and upgrade to an A-rating.

2. Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

Your must be issued a Certificate of Sponsorship by an approved UK employer. This is a digital document that contains information about the job you have been offered, including your role title, start and end dates, salary, and your employer’s sponsor license number. A CoS is a crucial part of your application. This electronic document will include detailed information about your job and is required for your visa application. It’s your employer’s responsibility to provide this. 

3. Eligible Occupation

The job for which you are being employed must be on the list of eligible occupations. Each eligible occupation has a corresponding standard occupation code (SOC) which must be included in your CoS. Ensure your job is listed among the eligible occupations. Your employer should provide the standard occupation code (SOC) for your role. This code will be included in your CoS and is essential for your application. If you do not know your code, you can search for your job in the CASCOT occupation coding tool.

4. Skill Level

Your job must require skills at least equivalent to RQF Level 3, which is comparable to A-level qualifications in the UK. The job must require skills equivalent to RQF Level 3 or higher. This doesn’t mean you need specific qualifications but rather that the role requires a certain level of skill.

5. Minimum Salary Requirement

You must meet the minimum salary requirement of £38,700 per year or the “going rate” for your job, whichever is higher. The standard minimum salary for a Skilled Worker Visa is £38,700 per year or the “going rate” for your occupation, whichever is higher. There are exceptions where you might still qualify with a lower salary:

  • New Entrants: If you are under 26, a recent graduate, or in professional training.
  • STEM PhD Holders: If you have a PhD in a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) subject relevant to your job.
  • Healthcare and Education Jobs: Specific salary rules apply based on national pay scales.

Each occupation code has its own annual going rate. Check the going rate for your job in the going rates table.

If you got your certificate of sponsorship (CoS) before 4 April 2024 you may be able to meet lower salary requirements.

There are different salary rules if you work in some healthcare or education jobs, where the going rate is based on national pay scales.

6. English Language Proficiency

You must demonstrate a sufficient level of English proficiency, typically through passing an approved English language test or having a degree taught in English. You can demonstrate your English proficiency by:

  • Passing a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)  English language test from an approved testing centre. This must be at least level B1 in reading, understanding, speaking, and writing.
  • You will also meet the English language requirements if you have a degree or other academic qualification which was taught in English.
  • Exemption: you will not need to meet the English language requirements if you are exempt, including if you come from any of the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, USA.
  • If you have passed an English Language assessment approved by the relevant regulated professional body in your area of work.

7. Maintenance Funds

To demonstrate that you can support yourself in the UK without relying on public funds, you will usually need to demonstrate proof of funds, unless either you have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months or your employer can cover your costs during your first month in the UK, up to £1,270. Your partner and children will also need to prove they can support themselves while they are in the UK.

Required Documents

When applying for a UK Skilled Worker Visa, you will need to provide various documents to support your application:

  • Valid Passport: Ensure your passport has at least one blank page for your visa.
  • Certificate of Sponsorship Reference Number: Provided by your employer.
  • Job Title and Annual Salary: As stated in your CoS.
  • Job’s Occupation Code: Provided by your employer.
  • Sponsor License Number: Of your employer, as shown on your CoS.
  • Proof of Personal Savings: Bank statements showing at least £1,270 (unless exempt).
  • Evidence of English Proficiency: Test results, academic qualifications, or other accepted proof.
  • TB Test Results: Required if you are from a country where TB testing is mandatory. 
  • Criminal Record Certificate: Necessary for certain jobs, particularly those involving vulnerable individuals.
  • Proof of Relationship: If applying with dependents, such as marriage and birth certificates.

The specific documents required in your application will depend on your circumstances.

Application Process

Step 1: Check Your Eligibility

Before you apply, ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria for the Skilled Worker Visa.

Step 2: Secure a Job Offer

You must have a confirmed job offer from a licensed UK employer.

Step 3: Obtain Your Certificate of Sponsorship

Your employer will provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship, which is essential for your application.

Step 4: Gather Required Documents

Prepare all the necessary documents, including your passport, CoS, proof of funds, and evidence of English proficiency.

Step 5: Complete the Online Application

Submit your application online through the Home Office website. You can save your progress and complete it at a later time if needed.

Step 6: Pay the Fees

You will need to pay the application fee, biometric fee, and healthcare surcharge for the duration of the leave applied for, as part of your application.

Step 7: Biometric Appointment

Book and attend a biometric appointment to have your fingerprints and photo taken. Alternatively, use the UK Immigration: ID Check app to upload your identity documents.

Step 8: Await Decision

Once you have submitted your application, you can expect a decision within 3 weeks if applying from outside the UK, or 8 weeks if applying from within the UK. You may be able to pay to get a faster decision – you’ll be told if you can when you apply.

What You Can and Cannot Do with a Skilled Worker Visa

What You Can Do:

With a Skilled Worker visa, you are entitled to several benefits and opportunities:

  • Work in an Eligible Job: You can take up employment in the job for which your visa was approved.
  • Study: You are allowed to pursue academic courses or vocational training alongside your employment.
  • Bring Your Family: Your partner and children can join you in the UK as your dependants, provided they meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Take on Additional Work: In certain circumstances, you may take on additional employment outside your main job.
  • Voluntary Work: You can engage in unpaid voluntary work.
  • Travel: You are free to travel abroad and return to the UK without restrictions.
  • Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain: After living in the UK for 5 years and meeting the necessary requirements, you can apply for permanent residency (ILR).

What You Cannot Do:

There are also restrictions on what you can do with a Skilled Worker visa:

  • Access to Public Funds: You cannot apply for most benefits (public funds) or the State Pension.
  • Change Jobs or Employers: You cannot change your job or employer without applying to update your visa. This requires a new visa application process.

Changing Employers on a Skilled Worker Visa

If you hold a Skilled Worker visa and wish to change employers, you will need to apply for a new visa. This applies if you plan to:

  • Change your employer
  • Change your occupation
  • Change your occupation code
  • Move from a job on the Shortage Occupation List to one not on the list

If your current visa is still valid, you can apply for the new visa from within the UK and continue living and working here until the Home Office makes a decision.

Additionally, you will need a new visa if you take on a second role with a different employer in a different occupation.

You can apply to change your job or employer up to 3 months before the start date of your new role. It’s important to apply as early as possible because it can take up to 8 weeks to receive a decision. You should not start working for your new employer until you have received approval from the Home Office.

For more information, please visit our article on changing employers on a Skilled Worker visa.

Extending Your Skilled Worker Visa

You can extend your Skilled Worker visa before it expires, provided you are still with the same sponsor and in the same occupation (under the same occupation code). If you plan to change your job or employer, you will need to apply for a new visa rather than extend your current one. You can extend your visa as many times as you need.

Moving from a Skilled Worker Visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

One of the key benefits of the Skilled Worker Visa is the pathway to permanent residency. You can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after 5 years, meeting the continuous residence requirement (not being outside the UK for more than 180 days in any of the 5 years). With ILR, you won’t need to make further visa applications, won’t have to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge, and can apply for UK citizenship after 12 months.

The 5 years required for ILR can include time spent on various visas, such as:

  • Representative of an Overseas Business visa
  • Innovator visa
  • Global Talent visa
  • Tier 2 visa (Minister of Religion or Sportsperson)
  • Tier 1 visa

Time on the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme cannot be included.

To qualify for ILR, you will need to provide evidence that:

  • You have passed the Life in the UK test (if you are between 18 and 65)
  • You are still employed by the same sponsor
  • You still meet the minimum salary requirements
  • You have sufficient English language skills

How We Can Help

Navigating the UK Skilled Worker Visa application process can be complex and challenging. At Whytecroft Ford, we offer comprehensive services to ensure your application is successful:

  • Eligibility Assessment: We evaluate your eligibility and advise you on the best course of action.
  • Document Preparation: Our experts will help you gather and prepare all necessary documents.
  • Application Submission: We handle the submission of your application, ensuring all details are correct and complete.
  • Ongoing Support: We provide continuous support throughout the application process, including assistance with any queries or issues that may arise.

Contact our experienced team for professional advice on +44 208 757 5751 or use our contact form.

Frequently asked questions

Can I switch jobs while on a Skilled Worker Visa? 

You will need to apply for a new Skilled Worker Visa if you change your job or employer. Ensure you receive a new Certificate of Sponsorship from your new employer.

How long does it take to get a decision on my visa application? 

Typically, decisions are made within 3 weeks for applications from outside the UK and 8 weeks for applications from within the UK. Expedited services may be available for an additional fee.

Can my family join me in the UK on a Skilled Worker Visa?

Your spouse/partner and children can apply to join you as dependents. You will need to provide proof of your relationship and ensure they meet the visa requirements.

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Skilled Worker Visa 2024

Skilled Worker Visa Requirements 2024

The Skilled Worker Visa offers a route for international professionals seeking employment in the UK. Replacing the Tier 2 visa, it aims to attract...