Skilled Worker Visa Application Guidance UK
We can provide you with the legal guidance you need for your Skilled Worker Visa application.
Overcome The Obstacles of
Skilled Worker Visa Application
If you reside outside the UK and want to work here, you will need to be sponsored to enable you to apply for a Skilled Worker visa. However, the process can be lengthy and confusing, especially when you don’t know where to start.
Additionally, your Skilled Worker visa application may be rejected if you do not complete it correctly or do not send all the correct documents. Refusals can harm your chances of getting a visa for the UK in the future, and obtaining visas for other countries. Our qualified lawyers based in London are experts in Skilled Worker visa applications.
- Our legal advisors provide full support for effortless Skilled Worker visa applications
- We advise and walk you through your application process at every step
- We can help you navigate through the complex application processes
- We are committed to full transparency in our work
So, if you require assistance when applying for a Skilled Worker visa, we are the right law firm for you. Call now to learn more about applying for a Skilled Worker visa.
What Is a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK?
A Skilled Worker visa is a long-term work visa for the UK. With this visa, you can work inside the UK legally. After 2020, the Skilled Worker visa replaced the Tier 2 (General) visa.
This visa is open to workers who will be sponsored to complete roles inside the UK at RQF Level 3 or above. In the UK, RQF Level 3 is also equivalent to A Levels.
The Skilled Worker visa has restrictions, meaning that you can only complete the role you have been sponsored to undertake in the UK for the sponsor that has sponsored you. If you want to switch companies/employers you will need to apply for a new Skilled Worker visa. If you switch roles in the UK, you may need to apply for a new Skilled Worker visa.
Skilled Worker visas can be granted for up to five years each application, but currently there is no limit on the number of years you can hold this visa for. For example, you may apply for a Skilled Worker visa for 3 years then apply for 5 years, this means that you would have held the visa for 8 years in total but you can only be granted up to 5 years each time you apply. However, it ultimately depends on the length of your sponsorship, as confirmed on your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), which your employer should provide you.
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
You will need a CoS issued by your UK approved sponsor to apply for a Skilled Worker visa. You should contact them about this before proceeding with your application. Without a CoS, you won’t be able to apply as you won’t be able to confirm that you meet the sponsorship requirements.
Once your employer issues a CoS, you can apply for a Skilled Worker visa. The earliest you can apply for a Skilled worker visa is up to three months before your start date on your CoS. You must make sure that your CoS has not expired (every CoS has an expiry date on it which is 3 months from when it was assigned to you). Therefore, the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is essential and you should not waste time after getting it.
Difference Between Skilled Worker Visa and Tier 2 Work Visa (General)
The Tier 2 (General) visa originally part of the UK’s tiered visa system, which was set up in 2008. The tiered system had a number of restrictions which meant that it was not set up for a UK that had left the EU’s freedom of movement regime.
The new Skilled Worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) visa. And along with that, some changes were also made to allow the UK’s immigration system to attract talent from around the world now that the UK has left the EU.
Here are the differences between the newer Skilled Worker and Tier 2 (General) visas.
1. Lower Threshold for Skills and Salary
One of the most significant differences between the new and older Tier 2 (General) visas is that the skill and salary threshold has been lowered. When applying for a Tier 2 (General) visa, applicants must have a skill level of RQF Level 6 (equivalent to degree level roles). However, for a Skilled Worker visa, the skill level is now RQF Level 3 (equivalent to A Level roles).
Moreover, the salary has also been lowered. The threshold has been lowered from over £30,000 per year to £26,200 per year, and in some circumstances it can be £20,960 per year.
2. Suspended Cap
The Tier 2 (General) visa used to have a monthly cap on the number of workers that could be sponsored from outside the UK. That limit is now removed from the Skilled Worker visa.
3. No Cooling Off Period and Length of Stay Requirement
The rules under the Tier 2 rules meant that if someone had entered the UK as a Tier 2 (ICT) migrant and then wanted to switch into a Tier 2 (General) visa, they would have to return to their home country and wait 12 months before they could apply. This requirement has been removed, it is not possible to switch from most visas into a Skilled Worker visa. This does, however, exclude some visas such as visitor visas.
In addition, Skilled Worker visas could be granted for up to 6 years in total (the 5 year requirement per application still applied). A Skilled Worker visa removes this requirement.
4. Abolished Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)
The RLMT was a strict set of rules that needed to be followed to advertise the role to allow businesses to sponsor someone for the role. The RLMT is no longer required under the Skilled Worker route. This test proves that someone already in the UK or a citizen cannot fill the position.
5. Lower Indefinite Leave Remain (ILR) Salary Threshold
ILR salary threshold has been lowered from £35,800 to £26,200 per year. The salary must meet all the salary thresholds (i.e. £26,200 per year, £10.75 per annum and at least the going rate).
UK Skilled Worker Visa Eligibility Requirements
To apply for a Skilled Worker visa, workers must fulfill specific eligibility requirements. Your application will not be approved if you do not meet these requirements. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you fulfill the following:
- Not fall under any of the general grounds for refusal (i.e. subject to an exclusion order etc)
- Receive a job offer from an approved sponsor in the UK
- Your sponsor must issue a you with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) confirming your role information
- Workers must meet English language requirements
- Workers need to evidence that they can maintain themselves either by holding at least £1,270 in your bank account or have your maintenance certified by your sponsor
- The worker needs to meet the salary requirements for the role
- The position you have been offered must be at least RQF Level 3
Documents Required for the UK Skilled Worker Visa
The Home Office requires the applicant to provide many supporting documents to process applications. These documents are evidence that you meet the eligibility requirements in the immigration rules.
You must send all the required documents when applying for a Skilled Worker visa. If you do not submit the documents and your biometric information, your application is at risk of being refused.
You should include the following documents in your application:
- A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your sponsor. This document contains very important information so must contain all the correct information.
- Valid passport
- Evidence that you meet the English language requirement
- Evidence that you meet the maintenance requirements
Above are the main documents. At WestBridge Business Immigration, we ensure all your documents are sorted before you apply. This increases your chance of being approved for a Skilled Worker visa.
Evidence of meeting English language requirements can be completed in a number of ways, which include evidence of being from a majority English speaking country, completing an approved English language test, having relevant qualifications etc.
If you are from any of the following countries, your passport will be sufficient to meet the English language requirement:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Bahamas
- British Overseas Territories
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United States of America
The Home Office might also ask you to provide other documents besides the above documents. It depends on specific circumstances. Here are other documents that the Home Office might ask from you when processing your Skilled Worker visa application.
- Tuberculosis test results if you’ve lived in a listed country for more than 6 months
- Valid ATAS certificate
- Proof of relationship between your children and spouse
- Criminal record certificate
What to Do If Documents Are Not in English?
You need to provide all documents in either English or Welsh. However, if some or all of your documents are not in English, you must provide a certified translation.
The person who certifies the translation cannot be related to you, in a relationship with you, or living at the same address. They must also complete the translation according to the Home Office’s requirements.
How Long Does It Take to Process a Skilled Worker Visa?
You may apply for the Skilled Worker visa up to 3 months before the start date listed on your CoS. The application form is completed online, however, you may need to attend an appointment to handover your original documents and have your biometrics taken. If you are applying from outside the UK, you will get a decision within 3 weeks of your appointment.
However, if you are applying from inside the UK, you will get a decision within 8 weeks of your appointment. Please note that some individuals may be able to apply using the new UK Immigration: ID Check app, meaning they don’t need to attend an appointment.
Moreover, there are ways to get your decision faster with an extra charge. That is why it is best to work with experts like us. At WestBrigde Business Immigration, we ensure your Skilled Worker visa application goes as smoothly as possible.
Can You Study While Working on a Skilled Worker Visa?
In general, you can study while on a Skilled Worker visa. However, you must ensure that you still meet all the requirements and fulfill all your obligations. That means your studies cannot interfere with your job and other related activities. You should also let your employer or sponsor know, it is also pos
That is why WestBridge Business Immigration can help you navigate the small nuances and laws around the Skilled Worker visa UK.
UK Skilled Worker Visa Fees
The Skilled Worker visa is unfortunately not free. The fees depend on your application length and whether your role in the UK is on the shortage occupation list or allows you to apply for a Health and Care visa.
You need to pay for the following specifics:
- General application fee
- Immigration Health Surcharge (calculated on a yearly basis based on how long you require your visa for)
- Fees to process your application faster
- Fees for attending an appointment (if applicable)
Here is a quick table that will show the fees required:
Type of Visa Application
Fees (Per applicant)
3 years or less
More than 3 years
(depending on whether inside or outside the UK)
£1,235 - £1,292
Health surcharge for each year
(For those aged 18 and over)
£624 per year your visa is granted for
Health surcharge for those on Health and Care visas
£0 per year
Shortage of occupation roles (up to 3 years)
Shortage of occupation roles (more than 3 years)
Those applying for a Health and Care visa
Those applying for a Health and Care visa
(more than 3 years)
Priority Services outside the UK
(Depending on process chosen)
Priority Services inside the UK
(Depending on process chosen)
The fees above are general. The charge can depend on the type of job you will be doing. So, the application fee itself could be from £247 to £1,423 - depending on your circumstances.
How to Apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa from outside the UK?
A Skilled Worker visa can be simple to apply for if you understand the nuances and understand what documents are required. You can apply for the Skilled Worker visa online from outside the UK.
Step 1: Check Eligibility
The first step is to check that you are eligible. You can refer to the eligibility section to know more about that. Also, you need a valid job offer from an approved UK sponsor.
Step 2: Have the Required Documents
Dealing with documents is probably where most people face the most troubles. The nuance of rules and myriad supporting documents can be overwhelming. You will need a valid passport, CoS, evidence of meeting English language (from an approved source) and more.
That is why we recommend you get the documents ready and at hand before applying. This will just make the process easier for you. You may create a checklist of the documents you need. And once you have them, check each one off. Once you have all of them, it’s time to start the online application process.
Step 3: Apply Online
The third step is to complete your online application form. When applying for a Skilled Worker visa, you do not have to complete it in one sitting. The application site lets you save your progress and pick up where you left off.
If you are unable to use the app, you need to keep your email handy, as this is your only way to log into your form. There is one very important thing to keep in mind here, read the questions carefully and look into the guidance beneath them on how to complete your application form.
If you are applying from outside the UK, you will complete a different form to those already inside the UK.
Step 4: Pay Fees
You will also need to pay the fees to submit your form. If you are unsure what fees are applicable, you can return to the previous fee section above. The main fees are the application fee, healthcare surcharge, and appointment fee (if applicable). You must pay the correct fees or risk your application being refused.
Then you can upload all the documents needed for your application. You will then need to schedule your appointment via the TLSContact or VFS Global websites (depending on your location).
Working with WestBridge Business Immigration helps individuals put their mind at rest. We make the application process smoother and easier for you, by assisting with the form, and giving you advice throughout. As a result, you do not have to worry about your application getting refused.
Can My Family Members Join Me?
Only certain family members may join you in the UK. These usually include spouses and children. They however, do not apply for a Skilled Worker visa but for a dependent visa (called a PBS dependant visa).
Our immigration lawyers based in London can assist with this, whether they are applying at the same time as you or later. However, they will need to make separate applications. Your family members need to fulfill the following criteria:
- They are your wife, husband, civil or unmarried partner (unmarried partners or those newly married will need to send additional documents to the Home Office)
- They are your child under 18 (including if they were born in the UK)
- They are your child over 18 (if they are in the UK currently) who is not leading an independent life
Proof of Relationship
Your partner needs to prove their relationship with you is genuine and where they are your spouse they also need to prove your relationship is subsisting.
As a result, you will need to prove that:
- You are in a civil partnership or marriage that is valid and recognized in the UK
- Where you are unmarried, you have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years
- If your child is over 16, they need to prove that they are not living an independent life
You must prove that you can maintain your family members for the first month of your leave. Here are the specifics:
- £285 for partners
- £315 for a single child
- £200 for additional child (each)
Can I Extend a UK Skilled Worker Visa?
Yes, you can. However, certain conditions apply, for example you require a new CoS to extend your visa. Individual’s that are extending their visa inside the UK and those switching employers apply using the same form.
Those applying inside the UK are applying for what is known as a further leave to remain, unlike those applying from outside the UK who are applying for leave to enter. There are no limits on the number of times you can extend your visa for.
Your role inside the UK must continue to meet the skill and salary requirements at the time of applying. But if you have changed your employer or role, you must apply for a new Skilled Worker visa before taking up that role.
How to Extend a UK Skilled Worker Visa?
The application process for extending your Skilled Worker visa is similar to applying for one outside the UK.
Follow the following steps:
Step 1: Get a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your employer
Step 2: Fill out and submit your application form online via the official website. There are two different ways to do this. If you have a BRP or you are an EU national with a biometric passport you may be able to apply using the UK Immigration: ID Check app, where you can scan your BRP or passport into the system before you fill out your form.
Step 3: Make sure to pay all the fees, including the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge
Step 4: Upload all supporting documents required for your visa extension
Step 5: Provide biometric information, which can be completed by booking and attending a biometric appointment. If you use the UK Immigration: ID Check app, you are exempt from this requirement.
Step 6: Wait for a decision from the Home Office which will come via email. The standard processing time for this is approximately 8 weeks from your biometric appointment or submission via the app.
If your family members are in the UK with you, their visa does not automatically extend, they will need to extend their visas as well. They may apply at the same time as you or any time before their visa expires.
Moreover, you are not allowed to travel outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) while the Home Office is processing your application. The CTA includes the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands, if you leave this area your application could be considered automatically withdrawn.
Step 7: Wait for your new BRP. Your approval email will inform you whether you have been granted a new BRP or if your status is now electronic. If you are waiting for your new BRP, this can take up to 10 working days to arrive from the date of the decision.
UK Skilled Worker Visa Duration
The duration for a Skilled Worker visa UK is up to 5 years. However, this is the maximum. You must apply for an extension to stay for over 5 years.
Moreover, workers who come to the UK and work for five years can become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This means that you can apply to permanently settle in the UK – more details about this are in the following section.
As a result, you can work, study and live in the UK for as long as you like. ILR means that there are no restrictions on your stay in the UK, meaning that you can change jobs, employers, apply for social security benefits, University loans etc.
To settle in the UK, you must meet all the requirements at the time of your application which currently include the following:
- Be continuously legally resident in the UK for at least five years (i.e. if you leave the UK for more than 180 days your residence will be broken and the five year period would start again, unless you have a good reason)
- Evidence that your current sponsor is not intending to dismiss you or reduce your salary after you obtain ILR
- Meet the salary requirements
- Meet the life and language requirements
You can visit this page to learn more about it.
Obtaining ILR With a UK Skilled Worker Visa
ILR stands for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This enables you to permanently settle in the UK. You can also live, work and study here without restriction. However, you will need to satisfy all the requirements to obtain an ILR.
The below visas can be held for five years to assist you to obtain an ILR:
- a Skilled Worker or Tier 2 (General) work visa (you may combine your time together on these visas)
- International sportsperson, T2 sportsperson or Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
- T2 Minister of Religion or Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
Please note that you cannot mix and match visas to apply for ILR after five years, unless stated above.
ILR is required to apply for British citizenship. One important thing to note is that the Tier 2 (General) visas were replaced with Skilled Worker visas. But if you have a Tier 2 (General) visa, you can still apply for ILR.
Time Frame for Applying for an ILR
There are time restrictions to applying for an ILR. You can apply no earlier than 28 days before you have been in the UK for five years. If you apply, your application can be rejected by the Home Office.
At WestBridge Business Immigration, we recommend seeking advice from an Immigration Lawyer before applying, to check that you are eligible. Regardless of the time, you can only apply for an ILR after 5 years if you are under a qualifying visa.
Fees for Applying for an ILR
The cost for applying for an ILR is £2,404 for each person. If your family members are applying for an ILR, they must pay this amount each.
Typically, you will get a decision within six months. You can pay an additional priority service charge to get a faster decision. The fee for the priority service is £500 and the Home Office advise that you should get a decision within 5 working days.
You can also pay £800 to use the super priority service. The Home Office advise that you should get a decision by the end of the next working day. Please note that Home Office processing times are never guaranteed, even if priority services are purchased.
If your appointment is on the weekend, your processing time will start on the next business day. Working days in the UK are from Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). If you attend an appointment on a Saturday, the following Monday will be considered the first day of processing.
Is a Skilled Worker Visa Required for EEA and Swiss Nationals?
The free movement of EEA and Swiss nationals to and from the UK ended at 11pm (GMT) on 31st December 2020. Meaning if you are not already inside the UK exercising your treaty rights (studying, working etc) before this date and time, then you need a visa to work in the UK.
If you entered the UK before this date, you should have applied under the EU settlement scheme by the 30th June 2021, unless an exception applied. If you are unsure about your status, we at WestBridge Business Immigration can help. Our expert immigration lawyers can advise you on the process and help with any paperwork, documents, and legal tasks that are required.
Requirements for EEA and Swiss Nationals to Work in the UK on Skilled Worker Visa?
Since Brexit, EEA nationals (and Swiss nationals) are required to meet exactly the same requirements as non-EEA nationals. Please refer to the requirements section detailed above for further information as to the requirements.
How to Switch to a Skilled Worker Visa?
People already in the UK under a different visa can apply to switch to a Skilled Worker visa. To be able to switch to a Skilled Worker visa UK, you will need to have a CoS issued to you.
The decision takes about 8 weeks, and as detailed above, you cannot leave the Common Travel Area until you have received your new visa.
However, remember that your partner or children's visas remain sponsored by you, on the basis that they are related to you and remain eligible (i.e. children are not living an independent life). When you switch they do not automatically need to extend their visa, and they will not be switching visa categories like you will.
Fees for Switching to Skilled Worker Visa
Workers applying to switch to this visa also need to pay the fees. The fees include the application fees and Immigration Healthcare Surcharge for each year you stay and work in the UK.
All the fees are for each applicant. If you have family members with you, their fees must also be paid.
Who Cannot Apply to Switch into a UK Skilled Worker Visa?
Not everyone inside the UK can apply for a Skilled Worker visa. Those on short term visas cannot apply for a Skilled Worker visa:
- Visit visa
- Seasonal worker visa
- Short-term student visa
- Parent of a child student visa
- Domestic Worker in a private household visa
- You are on immigration bill
- If you been granted permission to stay outside immigration rules
If you are on any of the following visas, you will need to return to your country of residence and apply from there for a Skilled Worker visa.
What If You Lose Your Job?
If you lose your job whilst on a Skilled Worker visa, you are no longer eligible for your Skilled Worker visa. After a report is made to the Home Office, they will write to you to confirm that your visa will be cancelled in 60 days. On the 60th day you must have either submitted an application for a new visa (including a Skilled Worker visa for a new sponsor) or leave the UK.
You may attend interviews and apply for new jobs during this 60 day period, however, if you leave the UK you cannot return on your current visa.
Changing Employers on a Skilled Worker Visa
Under the Skilled Worker visa, workers in the UK must apply for a new visa if they wish to change employers. You must also apply for a new visa if your job changes. To be more specific, if the occupation code of your job/role changes.
Moreover, if you leave your job on a shortage occupation list for one that is not on the list, you will still need to apply for a new Skilled Worker visa. The fees are the same as applying for the first time. So, you may refer to that section to get details about costs and fees.
Applying for a Visa for a Second Job
Workers can take up a second job for up to 20 hours per week under the same occupation code and the same level as your current job or the role is on the shortage occupation list.
You will need to apply to update your visa if your second job does not fall within the above parameters. You must not undertake a second job where the occupation code is different or you are working more than 20 hours per week until you have permission to do so from the Home Office.
How Can WestBridge Help?
At WestBridge Business Immigration, we take full responsibility for your Skilled Worker visa application. From advising on supporting documents, drafting the application submission/cover letter, working with the Home Office on your behalf, and supporting your application, we take care of it all.
We are immigration and visa specialists with years of experience. This means we have in-depth expertise and knowledge regarding the Skilled Worker visa process.
We offer fixed fees, so there is no surprise increase in fees. Our clients have a dedicated senior associate providing a comprehensive hand-holding service. In addition, we prioritise our clients and provide rapid responses. Our service standard for replying to your queries is the next business day.
Q. Is there a quota or cap on the number of UK Skilled Worker Visas issued each year?
As of the knowledge cutoff in September 2021, there is no annual cap or quota on the number of UK Skilled Worker Visas that can be issued. The UK Skilled Worker Visa route replaced the Tier 2 (General) Visa, which had an annual cap, but the Skilled Worker Visa does not have the same restriction.
Q. Do I need to provide a criminal record check for a UK Skilled Worker Visa?
Applicants for a UK Skilled Worker Visa are generally not required to provide a criminal record check as part of the standard application process. However, it’s important to note that the UK Home Office reserves the right to request a criminal record check or other additional documentation on a case-by-case basis if they deem it necessary.
Q. Can I apply if I have previously been refused a visa?
If you have previously been refused a visa for the UK, it may impact your future visa applications. Each application is assessed on its own merits, and previous refusals can be taken into consideration during the decision-making process. It is crucial to carefully review the reasons for the previous refusal and address any issues or concerns before submitting a new application.
Q. Can I apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa if I’m self-employed?
The UK Skilled Worker Visa is primarily designed for sponsored employment in the UK, meaning that you need a job offer from a UK employer who is a licensed sponsor. As a self-employed individual, you generally would not be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa.
However, there may be alternative visa routes available for self-employed individuals, such as the Innovator Visa or the Start-up Visa. It is advisable to consult the official UK government sources or seek professional advice to explore the most appropriate visa options for your circumstances.
Q. Can I include bonuses or allowances in the salary requirement for a Worker Visa?
Yes, bonuses and allowances can be included in the salary requirement for a UK Skilled Worker Visa. The salary requirement must meet the minimum threshold set for the specific occupation code in the applicable Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code. The salary can consist of a basic salary, bonuses, commissions, and certain allowances, as long as they are guaranteed and can be verified by the employer.
Q. Can I apply if my job is not on the Shortage Occupation List?
Yes, you can still apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa even if your job is not on the Shortage Occupation List. The Shortage Occupation List is a list of occupations that are in high demand in the UK and may have certain advantages in terms of the visa application process, such as a lower salary threshold requirement.
However, it is not a mandatory requirement to be on the list to qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa. Your eligibility will primarily depend on meeting the other requirements, such as having a valid job offer, meeting the required skill level, and meeting the minimum salary threshold.
Q. Can I apply if I have a dependent child?
Yes, you can apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa if you have a dependent child. You can include your dependent child in your visa application, and they will be granted a dependent visa status. However, it’s important to meet the specific requirements and provide the necessary supporting documentation for your dependent child as outlined by the UK Home Office.
Q. Can I apply if I have a dependent partner?
Yes, you can apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa if you have a dependent partner. Similar to dependent children, you can include your dependent partner in your visa application, and they will be granted a dependent visa status. It is essential to meet the specific requirements and provide the required supporting documentation for your dependent partner as outlined by the UK Home Office.
Q. Can I include my same-sex partner in my Visa application?
Yes, you can include your same-sex partner in your UK Skilled Worker Visa application. The UK recognizes same-sex relationships for immigration purposes, and you can include your same-sex partner as a dependent in your visa application. You will need to meet the relevant requirements and provide the necessary supporting documentation for your partner as outlined by the UK Home Office.
Q. Can I apply if I am a non-EEA national living in the EU?
As of the knowledge cutoff in September 2021, if you are a non-EEA national living in the EU, you can still apply for a UK Skilled Worker Visa. The UK’s departure from the EU resulted in changes to the immigration system, and EU nationals are no longer automatically eligible to work in the UK.
However, the UK Skilled Worker Visa route is open to non-EEA nationals, including those residing in the EU, who meet the eligibility criteria, have a valid job offer from a UK employer, and fulfill the other requirements of the visa category.