Most foreigners who move to the UK do so for work reasons. Working in the UK is as lucrative as anywhere in Europe as the country has a prospering economy.
You need a visa if you’re coming to work in the UK. The type of visa you need will depend on what job you’re to do in the country. However, most jobs fall under the Skilled Worker Visa.
In this WorldTravelPride post, you’ll find all you need to know about the UK Skilled Worker Visa.
What Is the UK Skilled Worker Visa?
The Skilled Worker Visa is arguably the most popular UK visa. It grants beneficiaries permission to enter, live, and work in the UK for up to two years. It was previously known as the Tier 2 (General) work visa.
As a popular visa, the Skilled Worker Visa gets a lot of applications every year. Hence, it follows a strict process requiring you to meet detailed requirements.
You’ll find more about the requirements of the Skilled Worker Visa in subsequent sections. However, the most important requirement is a job offer by a licensed UK company.
Getting a UK Skilled Worker Visa without a job offer is impossible because you need a sponsor. By default, your employer is your sponsor.
The Skilled Worker Visa is a long-term visa. So, you’ll need to apply even if you don’t need a visa to enter the UK for a short stay.
Visa-free entry into the UK usually lasts for 30 to 90 days. Meanwhile, the Skilled Worker Visa lasts for more than a year.
Aside from the Skilled Worker Visa, other UK work visas include the Health and Care Worker visa, Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility), Minister of Religion visa (T2), and International Sportsperson visa.
Hence, if you’re not eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa, you can check if you’re eligible to apply for the others. Find out the eligibility requirements next.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements?
Here are the requirements for the UK Skilled Worker Visa
You must have a job offer from a UK employer that the Home Office licenses. Notably, your job offer must be eligible for the visa, and your employer must have permission to employ foreign workers. You can check if your employer is eligible via this link.
For your job to be eligible, it must meet specific salary requirements. The salary must be £25,600 per year or £10.10 per hour, depending on which is higher.
The salary must also match the minimum going rate for the job. For instance, some jobs have a going rate of £30,000. If your salary for the job is £26,000, you won’t be eligible even if it’s higher than the £25,600 limit.
The salary limit is different if you work in healthcare or education. You may be eligible if your annual salary is up to £20,480.
You can check if your job is eligible for the visa on the GOV UK website. To check, you’ll need to know your job’s occupation code. It’s a 4-digit code that your employer should provide.
Otherwise, you can check the code using the ONS tool. You can also check the salary going rate with the tool.
You can only begin your Skilled Worker Visa application after confirming your employer’s sponsorship. Your employer will give you a certificate of sponsorship with a reference number.
It usually doesn’t take long for the UKVI to issue your employer the sponsorship certificate. The certificate should be ready within 24 working hours if your job offer meets the requirement and your employer has a valid sponsor license. It costs £199 to process, but your employer will handle the fee.
The certificate is digital, so you shouldn’t expect a physical document. Once you receive your certificate of sponsorship, you should start your visa application within three months. After three months, the certificate becomes invalid, and you’ll need a new one.
Knowledge of English
You’ll be staying in the UK for a long time, so you must understand English to qualify for the Skilled Worker Visa. The requirement is to ensure you can communicate effectively in the country.
If you’re from a native-English country – the US, Canada, Australia, for example – you don’t have to worry about this requirement. If you’re not, you can still skip it if you’re a native of any of the exempt countries.
Otherwise, you need to take and pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved test provider. You can take a test from any of the below providers:
- PSI Services (UK) Ltd
- IELTS SELT Consortium
If you’re applying for the UK Skilled Worker Visa from inside the country, your options are:
- Trinity College London
- IELTS SELT Consortium
The test consists of reading, speaking, writing, and listening to English. It’s usually graded from 1 to 10, and you typically need at least 6.5 to qualify.
What Are The Required Documents?
Most of the documents you need to apply for the Skilled Worker Visa revolve around the three main requirements – a job offer, sponsorship, and knowledge of English. They include:
- Your certificate of sponsorship. Usually, you only need to submit the certificate’s reference number.
- A valid international passport or other travel documents. It must clearly show your nationality and identity.
- SELT result sheet if you need to meet the knowledge of English requirement.
- Document showing your job title, annual salary, and occupation code.
- Your employer’s sponsor license number. You can get this from your certificate of sponsorship.
- Document showing you have no criminal records. This is necessary for specific jobs – education, healthcare, therapy, and social services. You can present a police or court statement.
- Tuberculosis test results if the test is mandatory for your country.
- Bank statement to show you have enough funds to support your stay in the UK. You won’t need to present this if your employer agrees to handle your finances.
To avoid delays, you should only begin your application when your documents are complete. In addition to the above, the UKVI may still request additional documents.
Processing Fees and Financial Requirements
The UK Skilled Worker Visa has no specific processing fee. The cost is between £625 to £1,423, and how much you pay depends on your situation. Notably, your job offer influences the fee.
If you’re applying from outside the UK, you’ll pay £625 if your job offer lasts for up to three years. On the other hand, you’ll pay £1,235 if your job offer lasts for more than three years.
If you’re applying from inside the UK, you’ll pay £719 if your job offer lasts for up to three years. On the other hand, you’ll pay £1,423 if your job offer lasts for more than three years.
Nevertheless, you may be able to pay a processing fee lesser than £625 if your job is on the shortage occupation list. When you submit your application, you’ll find out how much you will pay.
The UK Home Office will only start processing your submitted visa application after you pay the fee.
Aside from the processing fee, you must also pay the healthcare surcharge. It’s an annual fee to access healthcare in the UK and usually costs £624 per year.
However, the amount may change depending on your circumstances. As a result, it’s ideal that you use the immigration health surcharge calculator to confirm how much you’ll pay.
Furthermore, the Skilled Worker Visa requires that you have at least £1,270 in your bank account to support your stay. The money must be in your account for at least 28 consecutive days, with the last day falling within 31 days after submitting your application.
You can only skip this financial requirement if your employer attests to sponsoring your stay. In such a situation, it must be explicitly stated in your certificate of sponsorship.
UK Skilled Worker Visa Application
Once you have all your documents ready, you can begin your application for a skilled worker visa online. As mentioned earlier, you should start your application within three months of getting your certificate of sponsorship.
The application mandates that you prove your identity. Therefore, after completing the online application, you’ll need to schedule an appointment to submit your biometrics – fingerprints, and photograph.
You’ll also submit your original documents at the appointment, and in some cases, you may have to take an interview.
The UK Skilled Worker Visa has flexible processing times. Usually, it takes between three to four weeks to get a decision on your application.
In some cases, it may take longer than four weeks. Delay in processing occurs if you have to attend an interview, have a criminal conviction or if the embassy needs to authenticate some of your documents.
You can apply for faster processing with the priority or super-priority service if eligible. The super priority service ensures a verdict by the end of the next working day. On the other hand, the priority service ensures a verdict within five working days.
Once your verdict is ready, the UK Home Office will send you an email. If successful, the email will instruct you on what to do next. Ultimately, you can start preparing to travel to the UK.
UK Skilled Worker Visa Duration
Your Skilled Worker Visa can be valid for up to three or five years. Whenever it expires, you can extend it.
However, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain after staying in the UK for up to five years. The time you spend on the Skilled Worker visa counts towards residency.
Immediately after you arrive in the UK, you must apply for and obtain a biometric residence permit (BRP). This permit is mandatory for any foreigner staying in the UK for more than six months.
Usually, you should apply for the permit within 10 days of entering the UK. When you get your BRP, check to ensure your name is correct. If there’s any error, you must report it for correction as soon as possible.
How To Extend Your Stay
You can apply and extend your UK Skilled Worker Visa as many times as you want. The UK Home Office will approve your extension if you meet the job eligibility requirements.
Suppose you intend to change your job or employer. In that case, you must first apply for a visa update before applying for an extension.
Furthermore, you must pay a processing fee and submit biometrics for the extension. You should get a verdict within eight weeks after submission. Like the initial visa application, you can apply for faster processing.
If your visa is valid for up to five years, the best option is to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) makes you a UK permanent resident, and you can work and study without restrictions. You can find out more about it in this post.
As a long-term visa, your children and spouse can accompany you to the UK as a Skilled Worker beneficiary. Notably, their visas depend on yours and will expire once yours expire.
Your unmarried partner, civil partner, spouse, and children under 18 qualify as beneficiaries. You need to prove your relationship with them, and you’ll need additional funds to cover their stay. Your dependents can work and study in the UK with some limits.
Just as you can extend your stay, your dependents can extend theirs, too, if your extension is approved. Furthermore, if they stay in the UK for up to five years, they can apply and become permanent residents.
The Skilled Worker Visa is one of the most common ways to get into the UK if you have a job offer. With the information in this post, you should find the visa application procedure easier.