The skilled worker visa started accepting applications in January 2021 as part of the new UK points based system.
The system, which replaces the Tier 2 visa and removes preferential treatment for European Union (EU) citizens, is one of the points of Brexit which means anyone from anywhere would have equal opportunity to migrate to the UK as those from the EU.
EU workers previously in the UK are now meant to apply for the EU Settlement scheme.
How points are awarded
With the new points based system, applicants who desire to work in the UK have to have at least 70 points which are awarded based on different criteria.
- A job offer from a qualified employer for a skilled job would give you 40 points,
- Having an offer in a job on the UK shortage occupations list as designated by the Migration Advisory Committee or among specified jobs in healthcare and education would give you 20 points,
- A salary above the minimum threshold (usually £25,600) for the specified occupation would give you 20 points,
- Better academic qualifications would give you more points -10 points for a relevant PhD in the job and for a PhD in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, 20 points.
- Proof of English speaking would give you 10 points
Who is eligible for the skilled worker visa?
To be able to apply and qualify for a skilled worker visa, there are a few requirements that have to be met.
- Your employer has to be on the list of approved sponsors maintained by the Home office.
- You job must be on the list of eligible occupations listed by the government.
- Your job must be at the appropriate skill level – RQF3 and above which is equivalent to A- level.
- Your salary passes the threshold of £25,600 (it can be less but no lower than £20,480 if you can trade points by having a PhD or if the job offer is in a Shortage Occupation.)
- You need to be able to speak English.
Proof of English proficiency
One of the requirements for the Skilled Worker visa is an ability to read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
There are different ways this can be proven, and they are:
- Having a degree which was taught in English language. If your degree was obtained in a foreign country, you would have to apply to UK NARIC (now known as Ecctis) to verify that your degree is equivalent to a UK BSc, MSc or PhD.
- Passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT).
- Having an A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English or GCSE obtained from a UK school were you were enrolled before the age of 18.
If you’re applying as a a dentist, doctor, nurse, vet or midwife, you won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve already passed an English Language assessment that is accepted by the relevant regulated professional body.
You also won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you come from: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago or the USA
How long is the UK skilled worker visa valid for?
.The skilled worker visa is valid for up to 5 years and you can extend it after that. You can also apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years if you’re eligible.
What can you do on this visa?
.As a holder of the skilled worker visa in the UK, you would be able to:
- Work in the job you applied with
- Work in a second job (you might have to update your visa application.)
- Travel from and return to the UK
- Apply for Indefinite leave to remain.
You won’t be able though to:
- Change jobs/employer except you update your visa application.
- Apply for public benefits or be eligible for the state pension.
Can you bring family members?
You can bring your spouse/partner and/or children with you as dependents when you apply for the skilled worker visa. Their visas would expire as the same date as yours.
Cost of application
The cost of applying for a skilled worker visa varies widely depending on different criteria.
There are three main categories of funds that should be available to apply for this visa: 1. The Application fee 2. The Immigration Health and 3. Proof of funds to support yourself.
The Application fee: The application fee varies based on how long the applicant plans to work in the UK, if their job is on the shortage occupation list and what country the applicant comes from.
For jobs not on the shortage occupations list, the standard application fee is £610 if the applicant would be staying less than 3 years and £1,220 if the applicant would be staying for more than that.
For jobs on the shortage occupations list, the fee is £464 if you’re staying for up to 3 years and £928 if you’re staying for more than 3 years.
If you’re from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey, your application fee would reduce by £55.
The Immigration Health Surcharge: The UK introduced this recently to prevent foreigners from abusing the NHS. For the skilled worker visa, you are to pay the sum of £624 for each year you plan to be around which means if you would be in the UK for 3 years, you are to pay £1,872 and £3,120 if you’re applying for a 5-year visa. This fee would be refunded if your visa is refused. You can confirm the amount you are to pay for the immigration surcharge here.
Proof of funds to support yourself: The third category is proving that you would have funds to support yourself in the UK till your employer starts paying you a salary.
At the point of application, you are meant to have had the equivalent of £1,270 in your bank account for at least 28 days in a row. The 28th day of these funds being available should be within 31 days of applying for the visa. If you’re applying with your partner and/or child(ren) you will need an additional £285 for your partner, £315 for one child and £200 for each additional child meaning if you’re applying with your partner and two children, you’d need £1,270 + £285 + £315 + £200 = £2,070 in your account as proof of funds.
The proof of funds requirement can be waived if:
- You and your family have been in the UK on a valid visa for at least 12 months.
- Your employer has confirmed that they can cover your costs and that of your family for your first month in the UK.
How to apply for the UK skilled worker visa
.Applications for the skilled worker visa are started online, and your application would be separate from that of your partner/child.
It is possible to check with the Home Office points calculator if you’re eligible to apply here.
You might have to get your fingerprints and photograph taken in order to get a biometric residence permit (BRP) or use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document.
You can apply up to three months before the day you’re due to start work in the UK (this is stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship) and you should get a decision within 3 weeks if you’re applying from outside the UK (8 weeks if you’re applying from within).
Documents needed for application
The basic documents you would need to have handy when putting in your application are:
- Your valid passport/ID document
- Your employers’ name and their sponsor licence number
- The reference number of the certificate of sponsorship
- The occupation code for your job
- Your job title and annual salary
- Proof of maintenance funds (bank statement)
- Tuberculosis test results (if required)
Other documents might also be requested depending on your case.