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Skilled Worker Visa – Everything you need to know

The Skilled Worker route applies to all foreign nationals who have been offered a skilled job by a UK Visas and Immigration (‘UKVI’) approved licensed sponsor. 

What are the requirements for a skilled worker visa? 

To qualify as a skilled worker, you must be offered a skilled job in the United Kingdom (‘UK’) at a Regulated Qualifications Framework (‘RQF’) Level 3 or above from an approved UKVI licenced sponsor.  

You will also be required to score 70 points under the Points Based Immigration System (‘PBS’) criteria for skilled workers.  

The required 70 points are broken down into two sections:

-    50 points - mandatory ‘non-tradeable’ points; and

-    20 points – ‘tradeable’ points. 

Mandatory 50 points: 

Certificate of Sponsorship – 20 points 

In order to apply for a skilled worker visa, you must be issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship (‘CoS’) by an approved A-rated UKVI licensed sponsor.  

You will not be able to submit an online application for a skilled worker visa without the relevant CoS reference number which will be stated on the CoS.

The CoS will also mention relevant employment details such as your name, employment details, salary details, employment start date, etc. 

Job at an appropriate skill level – 20 points 

In order to satisfy the appropriate skill level requirement, you must be offered an appropriate job at a required RQF level 3 or above. This is equivalent to an A-level standard. 

You will be required to establish that you have the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed for the job. 

It is worth noting that only skilled occupations which are listed within the relevant Appendix of the Immigration Rules will satisfy this requirement. 

English language requirement – 10 points 

You will be required to satisfy the English language requirement by passing a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) test at the B1 level in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. 

You could also satisfy the English language requirement by providing confirmation of a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, or providing a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English. 

Furthermore, you will be exempt from meeting the English language requirement if you’re from a majority English speaking country as listed within the immigration rules. 

Tradeable points (Salary) – 20 points

From the outset, the minimum salary threshold for a skilled worker visa is £25,600.00 per annum.  

You must be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both the minimum salary threshold, e.g. £25,600.00, and the “going rate” for the occupation, whichever is higher.  

However, it may still be possible to be awarded the remaining 20 points if you are offered a lower salary than the “going rate” as explained in the chart below. 

AThe job is in a listed health or education and your salary equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and the going rate for the SOC code.  20 points
BYou have a PHD in a subject relevant to the job and your salary equals or exceeds both £23,040 and 90% of the ‘going rate’ for the SOC code.20 points 
CYou have a PHD in a STEM subject relevant to the job and your salary equals or exceeds both £20,480 and 80% of the ‘going rate’ for the SOC code. 20 points
DThe job is in a shortage occupation and your salary equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 80% of the ‘going rate’ for the SOC code.20 points
EYou are a ‘new entrant’ to the labour market and your salary equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and 70% of the ‘going rate’ for the SOC code.20 points 
FThe job is in a listed health or education and your salary equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year and the going rate for the SOC code.  20 points

Is there a maintenance requirement for the skilled worker visa? 

You must show that you have personal savings of at least £1,270.00 which must have been held for at least 28 days before the date of your application. 

However, if your sponsor is an ‘A-rated sponsor’, they can ‘certify your maintenance’ up to the end of your first month of employment in the UK. 
 
If your sponsor certifies the maintenance on the CoS, you will not be required to provide any evidence of your finances.  

Furthermore, you will not be required to meet the maintenance requirement if you have had permission to stay in the UK for more than 12 months.

Is there a requirement to provide a Criminal Records Certificate? 

You will only be required to provide a criminal record certificate if you’re going to be working in education or the health & social care sectors in the UK.

A criminal record certificate will have to be provided from each country that you have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years,

How long can you remain in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa? 

Unlike the previous Tier 2 (General) Visa, there is no limit on the amount of time you can spend in the UK on a skilled worker route. 

Can the skilled worker route lead to settlement in the UK? 

You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) in the UK after completing 5 years in the UK as a skilled worker. 

Your dependents may also be eligible to apply for settlement after completing 5 years in the UK. 

How soon can you apply for a skilled worker visa? 

You must apply no more than 3 months before the employment start date recorded on the CoS. 

The CoS must also be used within 3 months from the date of issue. 

Can your dependent family members accompany or join in the UK? 

The Skilled Worker route allows dependent family members to accompany you to the UK or join you if you’re already in the UK. 

Can you switch into the skilled worker route? 

If you are in the UK on another immigration route, you are permitted to ‘switch’ (change route) to the skilled worker route if you meet all the relevant immigration requirements and are not in the UK on any of the following routes:  

  • Visitor  
  • Short-term student  
  • Parent of a Child Student  
  • Seasonal Worker  
  • Domestic Worker in a Private Household  
  • Outside the Immigration Rules 

How we can help? 

Our business immigration experts at Cartwright King Solicitors have substantial experience and knowledge in advising both employers and prospective employees in relation to skilled worker visas.

If you or your business require further advice in relation to skilled worker visa, please contact our business immigration expert, Mr Mohammed Hafejee, or complete your details below and one of our lawyers from our business Immigration team will promptly contact you. 
 

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