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What a Skilled worker visa is and how to apply

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  • A Skilled worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.
  • This route can lead to settlement and applicants can be joined by dependent partners and children. In order to secure a Skilled Worker Visa, you will need to be sponsored to do a specific job, which meets certain skill and salary requirements, by an employer that has been licensed by the Home Office. There is no cap on the number of people who can enter the UK on the Skilled Worker route.


  • You are aged 18 or over.
  • You have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job you are planning to do.
  • Your job offer is a genuine vacancy, and your job is eligible for this visa.
  • Immigration Skills Charges have been paid by your sponsor.
  • Your job is at an appropriate skill level.
  • The English language competency you possess is equivalent to IELTS 4.0 (CEFR Level B1).
  • You will be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both a general salary threshold and the ‘going rate’ for the occupation.
  • If you are self-sufficient, you do not have to rely on public assistance.
  • You have provided a valid TB certificate, if required.

Application Process

You must apply online for a Skilled Worker visa.

Outside UK-
When you apply you will need to provide:Your certificate of sponsorship reference number – your employer will give you this.
  • Proof of your knowledge of English.
  • A valid passport or another document that shows your identity and nationality.
  • Your job title and annual salary.Your job’s occupation code.
  • The name of your employer and their sponsor license number – this will be on your certificate of sponsorship.
Inside UK (extending the current visa or switching from a different visa)-
You can usually apply to extend a Skilled Worker visa if all of the following are true:
  • You have the same job as when you were given your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK.
  • Your job is in the same occupation code as when you were given your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK.
  • You are still working for the employer who gave you your current certificate of sponsorship.
  • Your partner or children will need to apply separately.
  • You must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man until you get a decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do.
  • You might be able to apply to change (‘switch’) to a Skilled Worker visa if you are already  in the UK on a different type of visa, as long as your job meets the eligibility requirements you can speak, read, write, and understand English.

You cannot apply to switch to this visa if you are currently in the UK:

  • On a visit visa.
  • If you are on a short-term student visa.
  • On a Parent of a Child Student visa.
  • In a seasonal worker’s visa.
  • On a domestic worker in a private household visa.
  • On immigration bail because you were given permission to stay outside the immigration rules, for example on compassionate grounds.


When you apply for a Skilled Worker visa, you will need to have enough money to pay the application fee – the standard fee ranges from £610 to £1,408 depending on your circumstances. The healthcare surcharge is usually around £624 per year. You will usually need to have at least £1,270 available (unless you are exempt) to support yourself when you arrive in the UK.

If you are applying from outside the UK, the standard fee depends on whether you will be in the UK for up to 3 years – £610 per person and more than 3 years – £1,220 per person.

If you are applying from inside the UK to extend, switch or update your visa, the standard fee depends on whether you will be in the UK for up to 3 years – £704 per person and for more than 3 years – £1,408 per person.

How long does it take

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship. As part of your application, you will need to prove your identity and provide your documents. You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You will find out if you need one when you start your application.

Once you have applied online, proved your identity, and provided your documents, you will usually get a decision on your visa within:

  • 3 weeks, if you are outside the UK
  • 8 weeks, if you are inside the UK

What you can and cannot do

With a Skilled Worker visa you can:
  • Work in an eligible job
  • Study
  • Bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible
  • Take on additional work in certain circumstances
  • Do voluntary work
  • Travel abroad and return to the UK
  • Apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you have lived in the UK for 5 years and meet the other eligibility requirements.

You cannot:

  • Apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
  • Change jobs or employer unless you apply to update your visa


Your visa can last for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You will need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employers. You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.

After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as indefinite leave to remain). This gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like and apply for benefits if you are eligible.

For expert assistance regarding all forms of immigration advice, contact or WhatsApp us on 07583452230 and we can connect you to our Immigration Lawyer. Visit to find out more about how we can help you with our other services. If you find this information useful, please follow our social media platforms, like, and share.

Reina D'costa

Dual qualified, experienced, practical and proactive solicitor. Founder of Bizlaw UK, a new model legal service consultancy.