Skilled Worker Visa
In the past, coming from overseas to work in the UK required a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa. This Visa allowed skilled individuals to work for an employer in the UK under a sponsorship scheme. The Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa has now been replaced by the Skilled Worker Visa, which is similar to the old visa but there are some key differences. Some of the requirements have been simplified and liberalised.
Understanding the Skilled Worker Visa
The Skilled Worker Visa was introduced in December 2020 and like its predecessor it is part of the points-based system. It allows overseas nationals to gain sponsorship from employers to work in the UK, but only if they are filling job roles that are classified as “skilled”. A “skilled” role is defined as a role deemed to be at least at the skill level of RQF Level 3, which is lower level than that required under the Tier 2 scheme, which was Level 6.
Applicants may apply from outside the UK or, in some circumstances, may apply to “switch” to a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK.
There is in most cases an English language requirement which can be satisfied by, for example, a B1 English language test.
The visa can be granted for up to five years and it provides a potential route to settlement for the migrant and family members if any.
Sponsorship certificates & licences
The UK employer must hold, or must acquire, a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence; this is a licence issued by the Home Office. Once they hold such a licence the employer can apply to sponsor the migrant as a Skilled Worker. The employer must issue a “certificate of sponsorship” (COS), which is a virtual document and which contains detailed information about the migrant and about the job. Then the migrant must make their Skilled Worker visa application, either in-country (to the Home Office) or out-of-country (to a UK visa centre). If the visa application is successful the migrant can then start work for the employer in the specified job.
So, as we see, the scheme in its entirety consists of two parts: (1) sponsor licensing (2) visa application.
How far in advance can you apply for a Skilled Worker Visa?
The visa application can be submitted as far as three months before the employment start date that is referenced on the COS.
Visa costs & other fees
The costs associated with the Skilled Worker Visa vary considerably depending on the duration of the visa and sometimes on the type of visa. The visa application fees are between £791-£1,420 and there is also in most cases an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is charged at £624 per year of the visa period applied for. But this fee does not have to be paid by those applying for a Health & Care Visa, which is a specialist Skilled Worker Visa for those working in the medical field. .
Depending on the role that is being applied for or the nationality of the applicant some supporting documents other than a passport may be required for the application. These can include bank statements, a criminal record certificate, qualification certificates, and a TB test certificate.
Completing the process
Once the visa application has been prepared and submitted online the migrant must submit their biometric details (photograph and fingerprints) either to the Home Office in the UK or to the UK visa centre outside the UK.