Skilled Worker Visa: Your Comprehensive Guide
In the ever-evolving landscape of UK immigration, the Skilled Worker Visa has emerged as a pivotal avenue for skilled overseas professionals. This visa category, which has replaced the Tier 2 (General) visa, serves as the primary work visa for foreign nationals seeking employment in the United Kingdom. Whether you are an employer keen to hire a skilled worker from abroad or an individual aiming to secure a sponsored work visa, it’s imperative to grasp the eligibility criteria and application requirements associated with the Skilled Worker Visa. A misstep in this process can lead to a refused application, resulting in not only financial loss but also precious time wasted.
What is the Skilled Worker Visa?
The Skilled Worker Visa enables employers in the UK to sponsor non-UK nationals for skilled roles. To be eligible for this visa, individuals must accumulate a minimum of 70 points, which are determined by specific eligibility requirements. These include the skill and salary level of the job, English language proficiency, and possession of a qualifying job offer from a UK employer with a valid sponsorship license.
Both the worker and the employer (sponsor) must meet specific requirements. The sponsor must possess a valid sponsorship license with an A rating and have paid the Immigration Skills Charge. The Home Office also assesses the genuineness of the job vacancy and employment need.
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
Before submitting a visa application, the UK sponsor must issue a valid Certificate of Sponsorship. This CoS, available in two types – defined and undefined, serves as a reference number and can only be provided by licensed sponsors.
- Undefined CoS is for workers already in the UK with valid leave switching to the skilled worker category or applying under other visa routes.
- Defined CoS requires sponsors to apply specifically to the Home Office, providing detailed job and salary information.
Skilled Worker visa holders can only work in eligible roles at RQF level 3 or above, equivalent to a UK A-level. These roles are categorised using ‘Standard Occupation Codes’ (SOC), and the job description must match the position being filled. Using incorrect SOC codes can result in visa refusal, but genuine errors can usually be rectified.
English Language Requirement
Applicants must demonstrate at least a level B1 in reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English, as per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Exemptions apply to certain nationalities and those who have already met this requirement in a previous UK immigration application.
Criminal Record Requirement
Some applicants may need to provide a criminal records certificate, depending on their occupation.
Exploring Special Categories
For healthcare professionals, a dedicated Health and Care Worker visa is available, offering benefits such as lower application fees and exemption from the Immigration Health Surcharge. Eligibility criteria are specific and tied to roles listed on the Home Office Shortage Occupation List.
To apply for a Skilled Worker Visa, applicants must submit an online application, along with supporting documents and the applicable fee. The process can commence up to three months before the intended employment start date, as stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship. An in-person appointment at a visa application center is typically required to enroll biometric information and submit documents.
Alongside the application form, applicants must provide various documents to establish their identity and eligibility. This includes the Certificate of Sponsorship, job details, passport or travel documents, and additional documents depending on individual circumstances.
The visa application fee varies depending on factors such as the applicant’s location and the inclusion of shortage occupation roles. Discounts apply to nationals of specific countries.
Visa Processing Times
Processing times for Skilled Worker visa applications generally range from 3 weeks for overseas applications to 8 weeks for applications made within the UK. Expedited processing may be available in certain cases. But please note that each case is diffrent.
A Skilled Worker visa is typically granted for up to five years. Upon completing the five-year residency requirement, visa holders may become eligible to apply for UK Indefinite Leave to Remain. Extensions are possible as long as the visa requirements continue to be met.
Changing Jobs or Employers
Changing jobs or employers as a Skilled Worker necessitates applying for a new period of leave.
UK employers seeking to hire non-UK residents under the points-based system must obtain a sponsorship license. This license is necessary for sponsoring overseas nationals in eligible skilled roles. Several criteria must be met to secure a Skilled Worker sponsor license.
Switching to the Skilled Worker Visa
In certain circumstances, individuals can switch to the Skilled Worker route from within the UK. However, specific conditions apply, depending on the type of visa the individual holds.
Additional Work and Supplementary Income
Skilled Worker visa holders can take on additional work (up to 20 hours a week) that aligns with their primary sponsored role or is on the Shortage Occupation List. – Please check government updates to make sure.
In summary, the Skilled Worker Visa is a vital gateway for foreign nationals and UK employers alike. Its intricacies and evolving nature underscore the importance of comprehensive understanding and adherence to the visa’s stringent criteria. Seeking legal advice from experienced UK immigration Advisors can prove invaluable in navigating this complex process successfully. For specialist immigration guidance, feel free to contact us.
How Immigration Secure Can Assist You
Navigating the various visa categories and application procedures can be challenging. Immigration Secure offers expert guidance to help you choose the right Workers Visa category and ensure you meet all specific requirements for a successful application. Our services include comprehensive document checks, assistance with application forms, and the provision of a Letter of Representation to strengthen your case.
To initiate the process of obtaining your Temporary Worker Visa, please reach out to us or make an online enquiry. Our team of professionals is here to guide you through the entire application process.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Skilled Worker visa is typically granted for up to five years, with the possibility of extensions as long as the visa requirements are met.
Yes, in many circumstances, you can switch to the Skilled Worker Visa from within the UK, provided you meet specific conditions.
Yes, there is a minimum salary requirement, which is the higher of £26,200 per year, £10.75 per hour, or the going rate for the job role. – Please double check this if there is any updates.
Applicants must demonstrate at least a level B1 in reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English, as per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Processing times vary but generally range from 3 weeks for overseas applications to 8 weeks for applications made within the UK. Expedited processing may be available in certain cases.
Eligibility criteria include having a job offer from a UK employer with a valid sponsor license, meeting the required skill level, and speaking English at the necessary level.