This post will explore the rules for switching to a Skilled Worker Visa, previously known as the Tier 2 (General) Work Visa. As businesses across the UK strive to remain competitive, there is a growing demand for skilled workers in various industries. However, attracting top talent from overseas can be challenging, particularly in the current climate.
The good news is that the Skilled Worker Visa offers a clear path for those in the UK to continue to live and work in the UK. Successful Skilled Visa applicants may eventually apply for indefinite leave to remain after working in the UK for five years.
Eligibility Requirements for Switching to Skilled Worker Visa
To be able to switch to a UK Skilled Worker Visa, you must have a confirmed job offer before you apply. You must:
- Have a certificate of sponsorship from a Home Office-approved employer
- Do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
- Be paid a minimum salary
- Prove your knowledge of English to at least level CEFR Level B1.
Minimum Salary Requirements
You’ll usually need to be paid at least £26,200 (effective 12 April 2023) per year or £10.75 per hour, whichever is higher. If your job’s ‘going rate’ is higher than both, you’ll usually need to be paid at least the going rate.
You might still be able to apply for a Skilled Worker visa if your job is eligible, but your salary is less than £26,200 or your job’s usual ‘going rate’. You must still be paid at least £10.75 per hour.
New graduates entering the job market in the UK often do not meet the standard salary requirement of £26,200. Switching from a student visa to a Skilled Worker Visa is still possible. You can be paid between 70% and 90% of the usual going rate for your job if your salary is at least £20,480 per year and you meet one of the following criteria:
- your job is in a shortage occupation
- you’re under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training
- you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to your job (if you have a relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject, your salary must be at least £23,040)
- you have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education.
The application process for switching to a UK Skilled Worker Visa can be complex, and it is essential to seek professional advice to ensure that you submit a successful application. In general, the process involves the following steps:
- Obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your UK employer
- Submit your visa application online before the expiration of your current visa
- Pay the visa application fee
- Provide your biometric information (fingerprints and photo)
- Wait for a decision on your application, you may have to wait up to 8 weeks. You may pay to get a faster decision.
The processing time for a UK Skilled Worker Visa can vary, and planning ahead is important to avoid delays. It is also worth noting that there are additional requirements for certain occupations, such as healthcare professionals.
Who cannot switch to a Skilled Worker Visa
You cannot apply to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa if you’re currently in the UK:
- on a visit visa
- on a short-term student visa
- on a Parent of a Child Student visa
- on a seasonal worker visa
- on a domestic worker in a private household visa.
Benefits of switching to a UK Skilled Worker Visa
Switching to a UK Skilled Worker Visa can offer a range of benefits for individuals and UK businesses. These include:
- The ability to live and work in the UK for up to five years
- The opportunity to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) after five years
- The ability to bring family members to the UK
- Access to the UK healthcare system
- The ability to switch employers
- Undertaking voluntary work.
How can we help?
For professional advice or assistance from an experienced Immigration adviser, call our team today at 0208 757 5751 or use our contact form.
Frequently asked questions
Your visa can last up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You’ll need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employers.
You cannot take on additional work if working more than 20 hours a week or in a different occupation code.
If you switch your visa, your partner or child’s visa will not automatically switch. If they do not switch their visa, it will be valid until its original end date. They can either apply at the same time as you or before their visa expires.