A Guide to Coming to Work in the UK from Overseas: the skilled worker visa
Many skilled workers don’t know where to start when they first think about coming to work in the UK from overseas. For EEA nationals the thought of being subject to UK immigration control can be off-putting when they have become accustomed to the principle of free movement between EU countries. However, free movement for EU citizens coming to work in the UK ended on the 31 December 2020 and now all overseas workers and UK employers need to know about skilled migrant workers coming to the UK to work from overseas.
UK Immigration solicitors
If you have questions about your UK the friendly specialist immigration team at London based OTS Solicitors can help you. Call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments can be arranged via video call, Skype or telephone.
Working in the UK
Although it may seem more hassle to apply for a job in the UK when you are an EU citizen and can apply for any job in an EU country without needing a visa, UK employers and immigration solicitors say that there are many benefits to choosing to come to the UK to work and also visa opportunities to do so under the new UK points-based Immigration system.
However, the end of free movement means that those from EU countries wanting to come to the UK to work now need to plan ahead when looking at work options in the UK, in the same way as those workers from non-EEA countries are well used to. Immigration solicitors say that the Immigration rules have changed for all potential overseas workers with the introduction of the skilled worker visa for skilled migrants from both EEA and non-EEA countries.
The skilled worker visa
The skilled worker visa replaces the old work visa, the Tier 2 (General) visa. Immigration solicitors say that the title of both visas isn’t really very helpful for UK employers or overseas workers. That’s because the Tier 2 (General) visa didn’t actually say it was a UK ‘work visa’ and the skilled worker visa implies that an overseas worker needs a lot of formal qualifications and skills to meet the eligibility criteria for the work visa, but you don’t.
To meet the eligibility criteria to obtain a skilled worker visa an overseas skilled migrant worker must:
- Have an offer of a job
- The UK employer offering you the Employment must have a Home Office issued sponsor licence so that they can be your sponsoring employer and provide you with a certificate of sponsorship so that you can apply for the skilled worker visa
- The UK employer must be satisfied that the job on offer meets the skill level required for the skilled worker visa (the skill level is the equivalent of UK A level standard but that doesn’t mean that you need that qualification or need to have any equivalent qualification but instead that the job is at that skill level)
- The job salary meets the minimum salary threshold – the minimum salary threshold depends on the nature of the job, your age and qualifications and other factors
- You meet the English language requirement – you can do this by passing an English language test or in other ways
- You meet the maintenance requirement – having some minimum funds to support yourself or your employer providing a certification on the certificate of sponsorship so that you don’t need to meet the maintenance requirement
- You can achieve seventy points on your points-based Immigration system application to secure your skilled worker visa. (As some points are mandatory and others tradeable your Immigration solicitor can advise you on the best way to secure the seventy points).
The main point to be aware of is that you need a job offer and under the new UK points-based Immigration system there isn’t an entry clearance route for lower skilled workers. However, if you are an EU citizen who was living in the UK on or before the 31 December 2020 you may be able to stay in the UK, free of Immigration controls and without needing a sponsoring employer or a job that meets the minimum skill level, if you meet the eligibility criteria for either pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Staying in the UK on a skilled worker visa
A skilled worker visa can last for up to five years and an application can then be made for either:
- Another skilled worker visa – provided that you have a sponsoring employer and continue to meet the eligibility criteria for a skilled worker visa (you are not limited to one extension application and there is no cooling off period if you return overseas and then make a new application for a skilled worker visa) or
- Indefinite Leave to Remain provided you meet the residence requirement and other eligibility criteria. If you secure Indefinite Leave to Remain you can then go on to apply for British Citizenship. Once you have secured indefinite leave to remain in the UK you will no longer need a work visa or a sponsoring employer as you will not be subject to the same level of Immigration control.
Whether you decide to apply to extend your skilled worker visa or apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain it is important to make your application before your existing visa expires and it is best to understand the residence requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain when you arrive in the UK so you don’t inadvertently breach the Indefinite Leave to Remain Immigration rules meaning that you have to wait more than five years before being eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
UK Immigration solicitors
OTS Solicitors are experts in immigration law and can help you with your work visa and skilled worker visa application as well any associated Immigration applications, such as dependant visa applications.
Our friendly specialist immigration solicitors can answer your skilled worker visa questions and ensure that your application is processed as efficiently and quickly. For the best advice on your work visa options and the skilled worker visa call OTS Solicitorson 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. Appointments are available through video conference, Skype or by telephone appointment.