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Skilled Worker Visa
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Skilled Worker Visa

Updated: 17 July, 2024

We have successfully represented many businesses who are looking to strengthen their team with overseas talent. Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated Skilled Worker Visa lawyers, our clients can rest assured that their investment in overseas recruitment will not go to waste due to incorrect visa application.

As an international economic powerhouse, Britain offers a vast amount of opportunity across a wide range of industrial sectors, including IT, finance, engineering, medicine, and construction – many of which are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, and are therefore keen to employ high quality staff from outside. This in particular is relevant now, as the Free Movement with the EEA countries has ended, with nationals of these countries also needing to secure work visas if they wish to relocate to the UK for work.

How RVS Solicitors’ Work Visa Lawyers Can Help You Get a UK Work Visa:

Understandably, many skilled workers are also keen to relocate to Britain to further their career or gain valuable work experience. For such individuals, skilled worker visas can be one of the main venues to relocate to the UK. If you are an individual who has obtained a sponsorship from a UK employer, our skilled-worker visa lawyers are ideally placed to ensure that your and your family’s visa applications will have a successful outcome, avoiding any added stress and financial losses for you.

Read how we’ve helped our clients start a new life in the UK. Contact us today to discuss your case.

Not what you are looking for?

Also see:

  1. Tier 5 UK visa
  2. Indefinite Leave to Remain applications
  3. EU Settlement Scheme
  4. Sole Representative Visa
  5. PBS Refusals

Skilled Worker Visa: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

What is the Skilled Worker visa?

Skilled worker visa was introduced on 1st January 2021, as part of the immigration system overhaul, following the UK’s departure from the EU and the end of transitional period. The route is designed for foreign skilled workers who are required to fill a vacancy on a long-term basis. 

There are several categories of visas that are specifically targeted at those wishing to come and work in the UK, of which Skilled Worker visa, that came to replace the Tier 2 (general) visa, is by far the most utilised one. Skilled worker visas are available to those based overseas, including the EEA countries, who have secured employment in the UK with an employer who can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). This means the employer must have a Sponsor Licence and an A rating.

The skilled worker visa is part of the UK’s new Points Based System (PBS). It is broader in scope than its predecessor – Tier 2 visa, which was suitable nearly exclusively for Highly Skilled workers.

What are the Skilled Worker visa requirements?

To be successful, applicants must be aged 18 or over and score at least 70 points.

The attribution of points is as follows:

The skilled worker visa requires the migrant to meet the following mandatory requirements:

  • Have a sponsor organisation (Sponsor Licence holder)- 20 points
  • Skill level at level RFQ3 or above (A level and equivalent) – 20 points
  • Knowledge of English language at B1 CEFR level – 10 points

Further to the above points, you will need to score further 20 points to reach the required 70 points. The remaining points can come from salary or relevant PhD qualification. These are known as tradeable points. There are several options in which you can achieve the 20 points:

  • Your salary is equal or higher than the minimum salary requirement of £25,600 per year, or the going rate of your occupation code, whichever is higher – 20 points;
  • You have a PhD in a subject relevant to the job and your salary is equal or more than £23,040 and at least 90% of the going rate for the occupation code – 20 points;
  • You have a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job and your salary is equal or more than £20,480 and at least 80% of the going rate for the occupation code – 20 points;
  • You have job offer in shortage occupation and your salary is equal or more than £20,480 and at least 80% of the going rate for the occupation code – 20 points;
  • You are a new entrant and your salary is equal or more than £20,480 and at least 70% of the going rate for the occupation code – 20 points;
  • Your job offer is in health and education occupation and your salary is equal or more than £20,480 and the going rate for the occupation code – 20 points;

As with all Points Based applications the points, while central to the application, are not the only requirement and the application can be refused even with all points acquired.

In particular are important the general grounds for refusal, which deal with your criminal and immigration history. Thus, if you are applying for a Skilled worker visa, but you have a criminal conviction or had previously overstayed in the UK, your application may be refused.

Another important element is related to the genuineness test. This means that should the Home Office consider that the job offer is not genuine and is made only to allow you to obtain leave in the UK, the application can be refused. Therefore, it is important to show as much detail about the job, the recruitment process and the employer’s history as possible.

Who can be a Skilled Worker Sponsor?

To qualify for a Skilled worker visa, you will need to be sponsored by a UK organisation with a Sponsor Licence.

Any UK based organisation that can show they are a reliable organisation, which will be able to meet their Sponsor Duties and can demonstrate a genuine need for a sponsor licence can become a Sponsor. The organisation will need to apply and obtain a Sponsor Licence if they don’t already have it prior to sponsoring a migrant.

Another important aspect is that the organisation must have an A rated Sponsor Licence. All organisations get an A rating initially. If the organisation has been deficient in complying with their duties, but not in such a serious manner that it will require revoking their licence, they will be downgraded to a B rating. This means they cannot issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for new employees.

How to get a UK work visa?

To get a UK work visa, you will need to first find a UK based organisation willing to offer you an employment and sponsor you. The offer of employment should meet the Skilled Worker visa requirement. Therefore, before you accept an offer, consider whether the job you have been offered meets the skill requirement for work visa, if the salary is sufficient for the route and weather the sponsor already has a sponsor licence.

The skill level requirement cannot be mitigated, therefore you need to make absolutely sure it is the right skill level. If you are unsure, get in touch with our team of Immigration lawyers for a quick chat to clarify. As the Salary is a tradeable point, you might not necessarily meet the going rate threshold, but do make sure you fall under one of the exceptions, as explained above.

In respect of your potential employer, in case they do not have the Sponsor Licence, they will need to apply for one before they can sponsor you. Therefore, you need to ensure that your job start date and overall timeline for arriving in the UK take into consideration this process as well. Speak to our immigration team if you have an offer from a UK based organisation who requires Sponsor Licence to be able to hire you. Our immigration experts will guide you and your sponsor throughout the process.

How to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa?

The Skilled Worker visa application is an online application. The UK based Sponsor organisation will need to issue a CoS.  The CoS is an electronic document which covers the details of the Sponsoring Organisation, the migrant and the job, including the job description and the salary.

Prior to issuing the CoS, the organisation must ensure that they have identified the correct type of CoS (defined or undefined) and determined the right Soc Code and salary level.  It is important to note that while there is no longer any need to carry out Resident Labour Market tests, keeping records of the recruitment process is still as important, as that will show a genuine need to fill in the vacancy, which is an important element for obtaining a Skilled Worker visa.

Applications for CoSs are done through the sponsorship management system, to which all organisations having Sponsor Licence have access to. If all the requirements are met, the organisation will get a CoS, which they can then assign to the migrant worker.

Each CoS has a unique number and an expiry date of 3 months after it has been assigned. Without this number, you will not be able to complete your Tier 2 visa application. If the CoS has already been used for an application, it cannot be used again, even if it is for a repeat application after a refusal.

How long can I stay in the UK on a Skilled Worker Visa?

Skilled worker visas are normally granted for a period equal to the duration of the job plus 14 days. Meaning that the leave will be correlated with the job end date. Typically the CoS covers a period of up to 5 years, therefore the grant of leave will not be longer than 5 years and 14 days.

There is no maximum amount of time you will be allowed to stay in the UK on this visa route. Therefore, so long as you have an employer willing to sponsor, you can continue living and working in the UK.

Can I extend my Skilled Worker Visa?

Skilled worker visas can be extended, provided the requirements for extension are met.

The extension requirements are generally the same as the ones for entry clearance or initial leave to remain, that is:

  • A UK based sponsor who is willing to issue them with CoS;
  • the salary requirement continues to be met and any increase of the appropriate rate will need to be met;
  • Maintenance requirements continue to be met;
  • Migrant meets English Language requirement;
  • The migrant continue to be compliant with immigration laws and has no recent criminal record;
  • The job continues to be a genuine position and the migrant maintains the necessary skill level.

Can I get Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) through the Skilled Worker Visa route?

If you are  a skilled worker, you will be eligible to settle in the UK once you meet the following requirements:

  • Have spent at least 5 years continuously and legally in the UK on a combination of qualifying leaves;
  • Your sponsor continues to hold Sponsor Licence on the date of decision and issues a statement confirming they continue to require you and will be paying appropriate salary;
  • You meet the minimum income threshold, which currently is £25,600 per annum, or are exempt from it;
  • You meet the English language and Life in the UK requirement;
  • You do not have any criminal convictions that are recent enough to affect your application and you have not been an overstayer or otherwise breached the immigration rules;
  • You do not have excess absences that either go beyond the 180 days in any 12 months period (unless exempt) or are incompatible with the reason you were in the UK.

What you can and cannot do on a Skilled Worker Visa

  • You can work for your employer and for the position you were sponsored for. If you will be doing a different job for your employer, the Sponsor will need to issue a new CoS and you will need to apply for variation of leave.
  • You can work for a different employer for no more than 20 hours a week, if the position is either in the same occupation as the job you are sponsored for or it is in shortage occupation. You will be able to work for this employer only outside of working hours for your sponsor. This is called supplementary employment. If you wish to take a second job that does not fall under these requirements, then you will need to get a separate CoS and leave for that job, in addition to your existing one, as that job will be a secondary job and not supplementary.
  • You can study without any limits, provided that does not interfere with your work.
  • You cannot have access to public funds.

Can I switch to a Skilled Worker visa in the UK?

You can switch to Skilled Worker visa in the UK from any visa category except for:

  • Visit visa;
  • Short term student visa;
  • Parent of child student visa;
  • Seasonal worker visa;
  • Domestic Worker in Private Household visa;
  • Leave outside the Immigration Rules.

Can I change employers or take up a new role?

If you wish to change your job and work for a different employer, you can do so, provided they are able to sponsor you. You will need to make a change of employment application. Your new sponsor will need to meet the same requirements as your initial sponsor, i.e. have a Sponsor Licence, request and be granted a CoS, assign it to you etc. You will still need to meet the skill and appropriate skill requirements, as well as English Language and Maintenance.

The same type of application will have to be made if you are remaining with your sponsor, but undertaking a new position.

To avoid dire consequences, it is advisable that you speak to a Skilled worker visa solicitor whenever you intend to change employment, take on a new role or even if there is a significant change to your current employment, such as salary change or added or diminished responsibilities.

What happens to my work visa if I lose my job?

If your employment with your UK based Sponsor is terminated, the Sponsor has the obligation to notify the Home Office of such termination. What will happen to your leave to remain will depend on your particular circumstance.

  • Generally speaking, the Sponsor has to notify the Home Office about the termination of the employment. This means that your remaining leave may be cancelled and you will need to return to your country of origin or secure another employment before the new end of your visa.

As loss of employment can have serious repercussions for your immigration status, you should seek immigration advice from a qualified work visa solicitor as soon as you become aware of the prospect of losing your job.

Does the cooling-off period apply to me?

The cooling-off period refers to the legal limitation to apply and be granted new entry clearance or further leave if you held a particular type of leave previously. This used to apply to Tier 2 visa holders. The skilled worker route does not have similar limitations. This means that should you decide that you would like to return to the UK with a new employment, irrespective of the time that has lapsed since you left the UK, you can make a skilled worker application without any negative repercussions.

What if my work visa is refused?

Any immigration application runs the risk of being refused. If this happens, it is important to understand why your application has been refused. Speak to a qualified immigration lawyer who specialises in work visas to ensure you are clear on the reasons for refusal and what is the best way forward. In some cases, making a fresh application will be your best bet. In other cases, you might need to challenge the decision. In most cases, the challenge will be in the form of an Administrative Review. If you had a refusal, it’s rarely advisable that you attempt to resolve the matter on your own, as that might complicate things further. Therefore, speaking to an immigration lawyer early on can save you some time, money and emotional distress.

How can our Worker Visa Solicitors help you obtain a Skilled worker visa?

At RVS Solicitors, we applaud any worker who wishes to enhance their career and gain valuable experience and skills in another country.  It takes courage to uproot your life for the prospect of a new job in a new country; however, the prospects for reward are vast in the UK.

We understand the requirements for work visas and work closely with many employers to help them gain Sponsor Licenses, which allows them to hire skilled people such as yourself.  By understanding the whole process, and by taking the time to understand you and your circumstances, we will submit an application that gives you the very best chance of success.

Mistakes in immigration can be costly, from financial losses, to missed employment opportunities and lost careers. It is especially important to ensure you will continue to succeed once you are already in the UK, as the stakes are higher. By the time you are applying for your second leave to remain or settlement, you already have your life substantially based in the UK and any mistakes that leave you without a UK visa will have a huge impact on your life. Our team of immigration solicitors and qualified lawyers are here to ensure you never have to go through such hardship.

To find out more about how we can assist you with obtaining a Skilled Worker Visa, please contact our London office on 020 3372 5125 or complete our online enquiry form to make an appointment. 

To read more about similar issues please visit our blog or read on how we have helped others in similar circumstances by visiting our success stories

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