GoTalent's guide to the UK Skilled Worker visa

The government has rolled out new guidelines for the nation's immigration system which will impact both EU citizens and non-EU citizens. The news of this change is especially relevant to those in search of work opportunities with a UK employer, as they'll need an appropriate visa starting January 2021 if they're moving from outside the UK.

Introduction of the Skilled Worker visa

The non-UK resident Skilled Worker visa is the new primary UK immigration route for non-Uk residents. The Tier 2 (General) Visa has been replaced with this new, more selective permit for foreign professionals who want to work in Britain.
The Skilled Workers Visa also makes provisions to allow spouses, durable partners and dependent children of main applicants to apply with them into the United Kingdom. It also acts as a way towards settlement in the country by granting Indefinite Leave To Remain status should all requirements be met.

The new points-based system

The government has described the new immigration system as a points-based system. The necessary 70 points threshold for a Skilled Worker visa is made up of 50 points which are mandatory or "non-tradeable" (ie; the job offer, speaking English, and requisite skill level for the job on offer), as well as 20 points of tradeable criteria.

Offer of job by approved sponsor
20 Points
Job at appropriate skill level
20 Points
Speaks English at required level
10 Points
Annual salary of at least £26,640
0 Points
Annual salary of at least £29,970
10 Points
Annual salary of at least £33,300
20 Points
Job in a shortage occupation
20 Points
PhD in a subject relevant to the job
10 Points
PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job
20 Points
Sponsorship requirement

To become eligible for a UK work visa, the employer must first issue their prospective employee with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to confirm that they meet all requirements.
The CoS is a reference number that the Skilled Worker visa applicant will need to provide with their Home Office application.

Proof of English language proficiency

The required level of English is a minimum B1 on the Common European Framework for Languages scale.
Skilled Worker visa applicants will need to prove they meet the English language requirement, unless they have already done so as part of a previous UK immigration application or if their country is exempt.
Unless exempt, language ability must be evidenced by one of the following: GCSEs or A Levels in English; a degree that was taught in English; or an approved secure test for speaking and listening. If you studied at a university abroad, you’ll need to apply through Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) for confirmation that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.

List of exempt countries

You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:

• Antigua and Barbuda
• Australia
• the Bahamas
• Barbados
• Belize
• Canada
• Dominica
• Grenada
• Guyana
• Jamaica
• Malta
• New Zealand
• St Kitts and Nevis
• St Lucia
• St Vincent and the Grenadines
• Trinidad and Tobago

Financial requirements

The applicant must show they meet the financial requirement, and have sufficient funds to support themselves as they will not be able to access public benefits.
The UK government requires that applicants have at least £1,270 in their bank account when applying for a visa to enter the country. The applicant will need to provide evidence of their savings, unless they have been in the UK for 12 months with lawful status or if their sponsor agrees to meet any costs during this time.

How to apply

In order to apply for a Skilled Worker visa, applicants must submit an online application and pay the relevant fee. Applicants will also need to provide their biometric information at a visa processing centre local to them, either overseas or in the UK.

Screening Documents

Required documents

1. Your certificate of sponsorship reference number - your employer will give you this

2. Proof of your knowledge of English (at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening)

3. A valid passport or other document that shows your identity and nationality

5. Your job title and annual salary

6. Your job’s occupation code

7. The name of your employer and their sponsor licence number - this will be on your certificate of sponsorship

Other documents you might need

8. Evidence that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK, for example bank statements (unless your certificate of sponsorship shows your employer can support you)

9. Proof of your relationship with your partner or children if they’re applying with you

10. Your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country

11. You’ll need a blank page in your passport for your visa if you’re:
• From outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
• From the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein but do not have a biometric passport with a chip

Pricing for the Skilled Worker visa

The applicant will need to pay a visa application fee of £464-£1,408 depending on whether they are applying for a job that is listed as  "shortage occupation," and the Immigration Health Surcharge which equals to £624 per year.

Stack of Money

Pricing details

Applying from outside the UK
• up to 3 years – £610 per person
• more than 3 years – £1,220 per person

Applying from inside the UK (updating, extending or switching)
• up to 3 years – £704 per person
• more than 3 years – £1,408 per person

Shortage occupation roles
• up to 3 years – £464 per person
• more than 3 years – £928 per person

An additional discount of £55 will be applied if the applicant is a national of one of the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

Frequently asked questions

What is the average processing time for the Skilled Worker visa?

Skilled worker visa applications take up to 8 weeks from within the UK, and 3 weeks if made outside of the UK. It's possible to pay for fast-tracked processing depending on where your application is being processed.

How long is the the Skilled Worker visa valid?

The skilled worker visa is valid for up to five years. After this time has passed, it is possible to apply for indefinite leave. If there is any change of sponsor or job within these five years, then another period of leave will need be applied for.

What is the definition of a skilled worker?

A skilled worker is someone who has a job in the UK that requires a skill level of RQF3 or higher, which equates to having a high school diploma. The jobs are classified by their skill and content levels so you do not need any formal qualifications.