The UK Skilled Worker Visa will allow individuals to come and stay in the UK to work. This visa route has been put in place to replace what was previously known as the UK Tier 2 (General) Work Visa. Individuals applying for the Skilled Worker route will be required to work an eligible job with an approved employer in the UK.
What has changed?
Rather than there being unrestricted and restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) categories as was the case with Tier 2 Visas, the Skilled Worker route will now be undefined and defined CoS. Undefined CoS are for applicants applying from within the UK, and defined CoS are for applicants who are applying from overseas.
Undefined CoS can be assigned by a sponsor immediately as long as they have an available CoS allocation. Defined CoS must be requested and allocated by the Home Office on a case-by-case basis.
The terminology around these steps for Skilled Worker Visas has changed, however the process is largely the same as it was for Tier 2 Visa applicants. For more information on Certificates of Sponsorship for employers, you can read our previous blog post on the matter here.
What are the rules of Skilled Worker Visa?
There are some aspects of the new Skilled Worker Visa which are familiar for those who have had experience with the Tier 2 Work Visas previously. The requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa include which have been laid out by the UK Government include:
- You must work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office.
- Individuals must also have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK.
- You must work a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations. View the list on the UK Government website.
- You must be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work you do.
- You must be able to speak, read and write in English. Applicants may have to take an English language test as part of the application process.
Most importantly, individuals planning to move to the UK under the Skilled Worker Visa must have a confirmed job offer before they can begin the visa application process.
How long can you stay in the UK on the Skilled Worker Visa?
Individuals who have been approved for the Skilled Worker Visa will be able to stay in the UK for up to 5 years, or as long as you are in employment and meet the other requirements. If individuals reach the end of their 5 year period and want to remain in the UK, you will be able to extend your visa as many times as you like, as long as you still meet the requirements. If you change jobs whilst living in the UK under the Skilled Worker Visa, you will need to update your visa to reflect this.
After 5 years of living in the UK, individuals on the Skilled Worker Visa may be able to apply for settlement, which will allow you to live, work and study in the United Kingdom indefinitely.
Applying for the Skilled Worker Visa
Applicants for the Skilled Worker Visa can apply online through the government website. You can apply for the visa within 3 months of when you intend to travel to the UK. It can then take up to 3 weeks to get a decision on your visa if you’re applying from within the UK, or 8 weeks to get a decision if you are applying from outside of the UK.
What can you do on a Skilled Worker Visa?
- work in an eligible job
- study in the UK
- bring eligible dependents such as a partner or children with you
- take on additional work in some circumstances
- do voluntary work
- travel abroad and return to the UK
- apply to settle permanently in the UK after 5 years
What can’t you do on a Skilled Worker Visa?
- apply for most benefits or the State Pension
- change jobs or employer unless you apply to update your visa
What are the next steps?
The current Immigration rules in the UK are due to change on 1st January 2020, and some changes have already been made, including the shift away from Tier 2 Visas towards Skilled Worker Visas. This move to the new visa route offers a positive opportunity for individuals who want to come to the United Kingdom to live and work. In comparison to the previous Tier 2 route, the new Skilled Worker route offers a more attainable threshold for individuals to meet the eligibility requirements of the visa.
The UK remains an accepting place for individuals from overseas who want to come to live and work. If you are interested in the Skilled Worker Visa and require legal assistance with your application, please do get in touch with our team at Westkin.
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