Skilled Worker Visa

Skilled Worker Visa

The United Kingdom has long been one of the top destinations for skilled professionals seeking career opportunities. The Skilled Worker Visa, introduced on December 1, 2020, has become a popular path for overseas skilled workers from around the world to take up eligible employment in the UK with an approved employer. It replaces the Tier 2 (General) work visa and offers a route to settlement, enabling applicants to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after a qualifying period of five years.

This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the UK Skilled Worker Visa, its eligibility criteria, the application process, and the latest updates for 2023.

To be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa, applicants must have a confirmed job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor (employer). This visa category operates on a points-based system, requiring applicants to score a minimum of 70 points based on factors such as their job offer, salary, and language proficiency.

Skilled Worker Visa holders can undertake supplementary employment and study while working in their sponsored job. Access to public funds is not permitted. Settlement requires meeting specific criteria, including continuous UK residence and passing the Life in the UK test.

The applicants must meet several criteria, including: • Having an offer of a job from a Home Office-approved sponsor. • Working at an appropriate skill level. • Receiving a minimum salary, which varies depending on the job type • Possessing a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) confirming job details and salary. • Meeting the English language requirement • Meeting the financial maintenance requirement unless their maintenance is being certified by their sponsor

Family members, including partners and children, can apply for a PBS dependent visa to join the applicant or remain in the UK as 'dependants' if they are eligible. Their dependent visa will be granted for the same duration as the duration of the main applicant’s Skilled Worker visa.

Occupation Eligibility Each job role falls under a specific Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code, determining its eligibility for the Skilled Worker route. An Occupation Coding Tool is available to identify the relevant SOC code for a particular job.

Jobs sponsored under the Skilled Worker route must meet a minimum skill level, roughly equivalent to A-levels (RQF level 3). Formal qualifications are not always required; it's the job's skill level that determines eligibility.

Salary Threshold Requirement The salary requirements are calculated based on various factors and job attributes. Employers must pay salaries that meet or exceed: • the current general salary threshold which is at least £26,200 per year for most jobs; and • the 'going rate' for the occupation as set out in Table 1 or Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations; and • a minimum hourly rate if applicable.

Applicants can be paid between 70% - 90% of the going rate if the salary is at least £20,480 thanks to the tradable points scheme. If the Applicant:

• Is a new entrant i.e under the age of 26, • Is Studying in the UK and has completed their current course or professional training • Holds a postdoctoral position in higher education or science • Holds a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) qualification or a PhD level qualification in any subject

It is also worth noting that the current salary thresholds were previously based on a 39-hour week, however, now the thresholds are based on a 37.5-hour week. Employers must ensure that the right calculations are made to pro-rata a sponsored worker's salary so that they are not paid less than allowed.

The Certificate of Sponsorship Before applying for the Skilled Worker Visa, the UK sponsor must assign and issue a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). This electronic record contains a unique reference number, which the applicant will use during the visa application process. Once assigned, a Certificate of Sponsorship must be used within 3 months or will be voided for use.

Certain errors on a Certificate of Sponsorship which has been assigned can be corrected using a sponsor note which can be made on the Sponsor Management System. Previously, Sponsor Notes would be added to the footer of the Certificate of Sponsorship when regenerated. However, this is no longer the case, so if you plan to use a sponsor note, we recommend taking a screenshot of the note you are submitting to the system.

English Language Requirement Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English, with a minimum requirement of level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale in all four components: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Various qualifications and tests are accepted as proof of language ability.

Financial Requirement Applicants need to demonstrate financial stability by having at least £1,270 available in their bank account for 28 consecutive days within 31 days before applying. Alternatively, your maintenance can be certified by your employer. If your employer is an A-rated licence holder, they can certify on the assignment of your Certificate of Sponsorship that they will maintain and accommodate you, if necessary, for your first month of employment. If your maintenance is certified, you do not need to file your bank statements in your application.

It is worthy to also worth noting that since the Tier 2 (General) visa was superseded by the Skilled Worker visa, there is one vital change which makes the skilled worker visa a viable option for overseas entrepreneurs. We will explore this in more detail in our next article in the sponsor licence series, but for now, it is worth noting that Tier 2 (General) holders were not entitled to hold more than a 10% shareholding in the sponsoring organisation. On the Skilled Worker visa, this requirement has been waived, and there is now no restriction on the size of the shareholding held by the sponsored worker. We have assisted many senior personnel, sole directors and majority shareholders in successfully obtaining sponsorship in an organisation where there is a genuine position to fill. This change is a major lifeline for overseas entrepreneurs looking to move their base of operations to the UK.

The Role of Experienced Immigration Solicitors

The assistance of experienced immigration solicitors is of paramount importance when navigating the complex process of visa applications, such as the UK Skilled Worker Visa. We can provide essential guidance on selecting the appropriate visa category, preparing the necessary documentation, and addressing any legal issues that may arise during the application process. We can anticipate the potential challenges and we can offer strategic advice to maximise your chances of a successful application.

Whether you are a first-time applicant or seeking to extend your visa or achieve ILR, our guidance and support can significantly streamline the process, alleviate stress, and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.