Also known as former Tier 2 general visa, the Skilled worker visa is the main UK work visa intended for skilled overseas workers who will be hired by UK employers.
The skilled worker visa allows workers to move to the UK to work for a UK licensed employer and it can lead to permanent residency for the employee and the family members.
Before starting a visa application, however, it is important to assess the eligibility and understand the application requirements, to avoid issues or delays with the application.
Skilled worker visa UK requirements
Who is eligible for Skilled Worker visa UK?
To qualify for this visa type, the candidate must:
- Have got a confirmed job offer from a UK employer that has been approved by the Home Office (i.e. holding a “sponsorship license”). The licensed employer must have obtained a “Certificate of Sponsorship” (CoS) with information about the role they offered to the candidate in the UK;
- Have a role that is on the list of eligible occupations;
- Be paid a minimum salary level;
- Prove a knowledge of English.
If the requirements are not met, candidates can check if they are eligible for other UK visa types.
What is the minimum salary for Skilled Worker visa in UK?
The minimum salary depends on the type of work the candidate will be doing. In any case, the minimum salary is whichever is the highest out of the 3 following conditions:
- £26,200 per year;
- £10.75 per hour;
- The “going rate” for the role.
It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that the job pays at least the minimum wage and follows the local rules in terms of employment conditions.
If the employer fails to meet the minimum requirements in this sense, the visa application will be refused.
Is IELTS mandatory for UK Skilled Worker visa?
IELTS is one of the approved provider that candidates can use to secure an English language test.
However, there are also cases where applicants do not need to prove their English level at all.
Can I get UK Skilled Worker visa without IELTS?
To apply for a Skilled Worker visa, candidates must prove that they can read, write, speak and understand English to at least a B1 level.
You can prove that in different ways:
- By passing an English test from an approved provider;
- By having obtained a proper qualification through study at a UK school that you began when you were under 18;
- By having a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English.
Having said this, you may be exempted from the English language requirements if:
- You are a national of certain exempted countries;
- You are a doctor, dentist, nurse, midwife or vet who already passed the relevant English language assessment.
What occupations are under Skilled Worker visa in the UK?
To make sure your occupation is eligible under the Skilled Worker visa, you may check the table of eligible occupations published by the Home Office.
It is a very large table sorted in order of occupation code (“SOC Code”).
Apply for Skilled Worker visa UK
Once you have assessed that you meet all the requirements specific to your case, you can start your visa application.
How to apply for a skilled work visa in UK?
If you are resident overseas you will have to apply online by registering on the relevant Home Office website and complete the application. Alternatively, you can decide to avail of the support of an immigration advisor who will usually complete the application for you and guide you on the next steps.
To complete your application, you will also need to prove your identity either by using the “UK Immigration: ID Check” app or by provide your biometrics attending a visa application center (VAC).
You can usually select the VAC that is closer to your residency address, and you will have to register your fingerprints and facial photograph there.
What are the documents required for UK Skilled Worker visa?
During the visa application process, you will be required to provide:
- Your CoS number;
- Proof of your knowledge of English;
- Your valid passport;
- Your job title and yearly salary;
- Your job SOC;
- The name of your employer and their sponsor license number.
Depending on the specific case, applicants may also be asked to provide:
- Evidence that they have enough personal savings to support themselves in the UK;
- Proof of family relationships for dependent family members;
- A tuberculosis test result;
- A criminal record certificate;
- Other documents depending on your circumstances.
What is the minimum balance for Skilled Worker visa UK?
When it comes to show savings, candidates must usually have at least £1,270 on their bank account to prove they can support themselves in the UK. The money must be available for at least 28 days in a row.
In case a partner and children relocate with the Skilled Worker, additional amounts must be available, that are:
- £285 for the partner;
- £315 for one child;
- £200 for each additional child.
Alternatively, the employer can declare to cover the candidate and the family costs during their first month in the UK on the CoS. In this case, the applicant does not need to prove financial resources personally.
What is the processing time for UK Skilled Worker visa?
You can apply for the visa up to 3 months before your work starting date and the standard processing time for a Skilled Worker visa application – after the CoS is granted – is 8 weeks.
The UKVI starts processing applications only after candidates have proved their identity, either using the UK Immigration: ID Check app or attending the appointment at the visa center. Once the application is approved, they send a decision by letter or email.
In certain cases, the processing time can be longer, for instance if the information provided on the application is not accurate or the supporting documentation must be verified.
It is also possible to apply for a faster decision purchasing the government “priority service” (if available at the time of the application). In this case you will have to pay to the UKVI £500 in addition to the application fee, to get a reply in 5 working days.
Apply for Skilled Worker dependent visa UK
Can I bring my spouse to the UK on a Skilled Worker visa?
Partners and children can apply for family visas as dependents of the main applicant. Under the UK immigration rules, are considered dependent:
- The husband or wife, civil partner or unmarried partner;
- The child under 18 or over 18 if they’re already in the UK as dependent of the main applicant.
In the absence of a civil partnership or marriage officially recognized in the UK, you will have to prove that you have been living together in a domestic relationship for a minimum of 2 years prior to the visa application.
Can a dependent of a Skilled Worker work in the UK?
Dependents of a Skilled Worker can work – except as sportsperson or coach – as long as the main visa holder continues to work in their sponsored role.
Dependents can also study and apply for ILR (indefinite leave to remain) if they meet the requirements. However, they cannot apply for benefits such as public funds.
Can dependents switch to Skilled Worker visa UK?
Dependents can switch to a Skilled Worker visa, provided that they meet the requirements.
The main advantage of having a Skilled Worker visa rather than a dependent visa is that the immigration status is not linked to the main visa holder, but to the own role in the UK.
Skilled Worker visa UK duration
Is UK Skilled Worker visa temporary or permanent?
The Skilled Worker visa can last for up to 5 years and can lead to permanent residency. In fact, when it expires you can decide to extend the visa or to apply for ILR to settle permanently in the UK.
ILR gives you the advantage to apply also for benefits if you’re eligible.
How long can I stay outside the UK with Skilled Worker visa?
If you want to apply for ILR after 5 years on a Skilled Worker visa, the authorities will check that you have actually lived in the UK for those 5 years (“continuous residence”).
In details, they will check the time you spent outside the UK to make sure that you have spent no more than 180 days outside the country in any 12 months.
Skilled Worker visa UK cost
How much does UK Skilled Worker visa cost?
Government application fees for a Skilled Worker visa can be quite high. In fact, they correspond to:
- From £719 to £1,500 for the application fee;
- £624 per year for the healthcare surcharge.
On top of that, candidates must show to have a minimum balance as mentioned, unless their employer declares to cover for them.
Who pays for the Skilled Worker visa in UK?
On top of the application fee and the healthcare surcharge, there is an additional charge called “immigration skills charge” which is to be paid by the employer, unless the role falls into the list of occupation codes that are exempt from such charge.
The immigration skills charge fee depends on the size of the company and how long the worker will work for that company. In the case of medium or large companies, the fee is equal to £1,000 per year. This fee is per worker and does not have to be paid also for the worker’s dependents.