Key requirements for Skilled Worker visa
The key requirements for the Skilled Worker visa (note: the Skilled Worker visa replaced the previous Tier 2 General visa) are listed below:
- The employer organisation must hold a Skilled Worker sponsor licence from the UK Home Office.
The government website with the register of sponsor employers is here. In there you can check if an organization already holds a sponsor licence and in which visa category.
- The job must be NQF Level 3 or above. This is a much lower skill level than the previously required Level 6 for the Tier 2 visa. To illustrate this, the Level 3 jobs that qualify for the Skilled Worker visa include professions in building and construction industries, such as bricklayers, roofers, carpenters, plasterers, painters and many more. In the care sector not only senior carers, but from 15/02/2022 until 15/02/2023 also care workers, care assistants and home carers qualify for the Skilled Worker visa. We write about this here. In the restaurant/catering industry, jobs such as chef, operations manager, restaurant manager, are also skilled enough for the visa. The lower minimum skill level is certainly good news for the care homes, construction, hospitality and many other sectors, that struggle with staff shortages after Brexit. The information on which jobs qualify for Skilled Worker visa can be found in the Home Office document here: Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Occupations – Immigration Rules – Guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
- The salary paid to the migrant must meet the Home Office minimum for the job role. The minimum salary for the Skilled Worker visa is £25,600 (but it can be lower: £23,040 or £20,480 in some circumstances) OR the prescribed minimum for a particular job (Soc Code). It is crucial for sponsor employers to note that they must pay whichever of the two, visa minimum or Soc Code minimum, is higher (e.g. Skilled Worker visa minimum is £25,600 but Soc Code minimum for 2436 Construction project managers and related professionals is £28,700, so no less than £28,700 must be paid for Skilled Worker visa to be granted). Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Worker – Immigration Rules – Guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). We write more about the different minimum salary options for Skilled Worker visa here and here.
- The sponsor employer must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS). The COS is an electronic work permit setting out the terms of employment (job title, job description, salary, Soc Code, normal weekly working hours, place of work) and personal details of the migrant (name and surname, date of birth, passport details, home address). Certificate of sponsorship
- The migrant meets the minimum maintenance level required (it is common for sponsor employer to certify maintenance on the COS).
- The migrant meets the English language requirement of CEFR Level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening. The English language is a mandatory requirement for Skilled Worker visa application. It can be met by passing a Home Office approved English language test at CEFR B1 (must be in four components: speaking, listening, reading and writing) OR applicant can provide evidence that they are from a majority English speaking country (list of those countries is in Home Office guidance) or the applicant has a university degree taught in English. The Home Office gives some information on the English language requirement here.
- The migrant has TB test certificate from the Home Office approved clinic (if TB testing is required for a particular country where the migrant resides).Tuberculosis tests for visa applicants: Countries where you need a TB test to enter the UK – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- The migrant obtains criminal record certificates (required for certain Soc Codes, e.g. nurses, doctors, teachers).
- None of the general grounds for refusal apply (i.e. no relevant criminal record, involvement in terrorism, etc.). Immigration Rules part 9: grounds for refusal – Immigration Rules – Guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Work start date in the UK after Skilled Worker visa received
Skilled Worker – work start date within 28 days
Sponsor must normally stop sponsoring the worker and inform Home Office via your SMS account if the start date is delayed by more than 28 days after whichever is the latest of:
• the start date recorded on the worker’s CoS (including any amendment to that date you have amended via SMS while the worker was awaiting a decision on their application)
• the date the worker’s entry clearance (visa) becomes valid
• the date the worker is granted permission to enter or permission to stay
The only exception to the 28 days deadline for entry, which is stipulated in the Home Office guidance, is where the worker is required to work out a contractual notice period with their previous employer. Please remember that where the worker is in the UK, their conditions of stay must allow them to do this. If, as a result of working out a contractual notice period, the start date will be delayed by more than 28 days (as defined in the previous paragraph), you must notify us via your SMS account.
However, please also bear in mind that if you know the worker will need to work out a contractual notice period, you should, as far as possible, factor this in when you enter the start date on the CoS (but remember that the worker cannot apply for permission more than 3 months before the start date on the CoS)
Path to ILR and British citizenship
Under the current immigration rules there is no maximum duration that a migrant can remain in the UK on the Skilled Worker visa.
Migrants applying for permission to work as a Sportsperson or a Minister of Religion cannot apply for Skilled Worker visa. Instead they have to apply for a Sportsperson visa or Minister of Religion visa respectively. Sportsperson visa and Minister of Religion visa may also lead to Settlement/ILR and British citizenship.