Skilled Worker Visa

The skilled worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. The visa permits eligible applicants with a job offer from an approved sponsor to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a UK resident. It is on the employer to provide a clear and coherent reason as to why the job cannot be carried out by a UK resident.

As specialists in UK immigration law, JMW Solicitors can offer clients a full service that includes advice and assistance with a skilled worker visa application. With an office located in the heart of central London, we can assist clients based in the UK as well as those overseas.

We regularly assist human resources teams and employers with this type of visa, and are well-positioned to successfully and expeditiously manage these applications thanks to our connection with the Home Office and visa-issuing posts worldwide.

If you would like to know more about the skilled worker visa application process, get in touch with our expert immigration solicitors today by calling 0203 675 7600, or fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.

How JMW Can Help With Your Skilled Worker Visa Application

The UK government has laid down stringent requirements in relation to these applications, which must be met. Applications must be made via a specified form, including payment of the correct Home Office fees.

Our experienced team of immigration solicitors will prepare all necessary documentation and liaise with the Home Office regularly to ensure a successful outcome. We can also help employers to ensure they understand the process and have correctly assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship to any migrant worker.

Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship is a crucial part of a visa application, and it is essential to make sure it is done correctly, with the correct information being provided; otherwise, a case may be refused by the Home Office.

JMW is a top 100 UK law firm with over 500 employees and offices in London, Manchester and Liverpool. We are large enough to have the high professional standards that you would expect from an established law firm while also retaining the client accessibility more typical of smaller firms.

For more help and advice on employing overseas workers, download our guide today.

Skilled Worker Visa Eligibility

To hire a non-UK skilled worker, the applicant must have:

  • A job offer from a UK employer who has been approved by the Home Office as a qualified sponsor
  • A Certificate of Sponsorship from that employer that details the role
  • An appropriate salary (in most cases, at least £20,480)
  • An understanding of the English language at CEFR level B2
  • Sufficient maintenance funds to cover the costs of living in the UK 

Skilled workers can only be employed if the position is at NQF level three or above, unless the role is published in the government’s Shortage Occupation list.

An applicant must also not own more than 10% of shares in the organisation providing sponsorship, unless they fall under the high-earner category. 

Hiring a Skilled Worker

In order to employ a skilled worker, there are certain requirements that must be met with points scored. An applicant must score 50 mandatory points against the following criteria:

  • An offer of a job by a Home Office-approved sponsor - 20 points
  • The job must be at an appropriate skill level - 20 points
  • The ability to speak English at a required level - 10 points

In addition, there are up to 20 tradeable points.

FAQs About Skilled Worker Visas

Eligibility and Applications

Is my job skilled enough for a skilled worker visa? How do I find out?

Not all jobs are eligible for skilled worker sponsorship. To be eligible for a skilled worker visa, your job role must be skilled to at least RQF level 3, which is the equivalent to A-levels. You will also need to have an occupation code.

It can be difficult to determine your job role’s skill level, particularly if it doesn’t ‘sit’ clearly within a specific SOC code; however, we can assist in this determination.

What is the minimum salary for a skilled worker visa?

The minimum salary that a skilled worker visa applicant must receive is £20,480, or the minimum salary specified in the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) for the role.

Here are the typical salaries applied to various SOC codes:

Option Requirements
A - Salary only

The applicant’s salary equals or exceeds both:

  • £25,600 per year
  • The going rate for their SOC
B - Relevant PhD

PhD in a subject relevant to their job and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds both:

  • £23,040 per year
  • 90% of the going rate for their SOC
C - Relevant STEM PhD

PhD in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) subject relevant to their job and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds both:

  • £20,480 per year
  • 80% of the going rate for their SOC
D - Shortage occupation

Job is in the shortage occupation list and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds both:

  • £20,480 per year
  • 80% of the going rate for their SOC
E - New entrant

The applicant is a new entrant to the labour market and their salary equals or exceeds both:

  • £20,480 per year
  • 70% of the going rate for their SOC
F - Listed health or educational occupation

The job is a listed health or education occupation and the applicant’s salary equals or exceeds both:

  • £20,480 per year
  • The going rate for their SOC

All health or education SOCs can only be awarded points from option F.


Can I receive a bonus on top of my salary?

Allowances and guaranteed bonuses can be included; however, performance-related bonuses cannot. The Home Office will only consider the salary when awarding points for minimum income.

Does an English degree count as proof for a skilled worker visa application?

If you have an English degree from the UK, you can provide this as proof of your English language knowledge. If you have taken an English degree that was taught in a different country, you will either need to apply to UK NARIC to confirm that it is equivalent to a UK degree or pass a relevant English test.

Can I use an English language test I passed a couple of years ago as proof in my application?

If you have taken a recognised English language test in the last two years, it may be used as proof in your skilled worker visa application. To successfully claim points for English language knowledge, you need to take an English test that features on the UK government’s website. 

How long does a skilled worker visa application take to process?

Processing times can vary depending on whether an application is made in the UK or abroad. Applications submitted within the UK under the standard service can take an average of eight weeks to be processed. The priority service can take either five working days or 24 hours, depending on which service you opt for, from the date of the biometric enrolment appointment.

When applying from abroad, the processing times vary from country to country; however, the five-day and 24-hour priority services are available to overseas applicants. 

Families and Dependents

Can family members join a skilled worker visa migrant as dependents?

If a skilled worker visa application is successful, dependents can seek permission to join you in the UK or to further remain with you. Examples of dependents include children under the age of 18, a husband/wife, a civil partner, an unmarried partner or same-sex partner. 

Can dependents work while in the UK?

Dependents are allowed to work in the UK; however, they may not work as a doctor in training. Also, children are permitted to attend state schools in the UK. 

Making Changes to a Skilled Worker Visa

Can I switch jobs on a skilled worker visa?

The skilled worker visa only grants you permission to work for the employer that originally sponsored your application. If you wish to switch jobs to a new employer or to a different occupation code, you will need to apply to update your skilled worker visa.

Can I get a second job with a skilled worker visa?

You are allowed to get a second job subject to the following restrictions:

  • The second job must be carried out for no more than 20 hours per week, outside of your sponsored job’s normal working hours
  • The second job role must be in the same SOC code as your sponsored role or be on the shortage occupation list

Additionally, you are able to engage in voluntary work.

If the second job does not meet the above requirements, you will need to obtain sponsorship in the same way as your primary role. 

Can I change from a student visa to a skilled worker visa?

If you have completed either a bachelors, masters, postgraduate certificate in education, professional graduate diploma of education, or 12 months of study towards a PhD in the UK under your most recent grant of leave as a student, you could be eligible to apply for a skilled worker visa from within the UK.

Can I apply for a skilled worker visa if I haven’t completed my degree?

You can only switch from a student visa if you have successfully completed, or are three months away from successfully completing your course. If you have been unable to successfully graduate, you will need to make your skilled worker visa application from your country of residence.

Talk to Us

To make an application for a skilled worker visa, contact JMW’s immigration solicitors today by calling 0203 675 7600, or fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you

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