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How to get a skilled worker visa

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Let’s face it, not all of us are good at paperwork or working our way through rules and regulations, especially Immigration rules. That is evident when it comes to the skilled worker visa, as specialist immigration solicitors are starting to see trends in why skilled worker visa applications are granted or refused by the Home Office, following the introduction of the new work visa route in December 2020. In this article, our immigration law team looks at the ‘do’s and don’ts’ when applying for a skilled worker visa.

UK Immigration solicitors

For specialist advice on getting your skilled worker visa call the immigration law team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.

The skilled worker visa – getting it right

If you are fortunate enough to have secured a job offer from a UK employer with a Home Office Sponsor Licence authorising them to recruit non-EEA and EU skilled migrants then your next step is to secure your skilled worker visa.

Your new employer will have an Employment start date in mind and a delay in your commencing your new Employment is likely to be both costly and frustrating for you as a new employee and for your sponsoring employer, who will have made your Employment contingent on your securing a skilled worker visa. Therefore, getting your skilled worker visa application right first time is the key to a successful start to your UK Employment.

If you think how much time and energy you invested in getting your job in the UK, it is best to put the same amount of time in to obtain your skilled worker visa. Alternatively, if you aren’t good with forms or a hundred percent confident, it is best to ask a work visa solicitor to sort out your skilled worker visa for you.

The skilled worker visa guidance

When your skilled worker visa application is submitted to the Home Office it isn’t automatically granted just because you have a job in the UK waiting for you. Instead, your skilled worker visa application will be reviewed by a Home Office official who will check to see if:

  • The application form has been completed correctly.
  • The right supporting paperwork accompanies the skilled worker visa application.
  • You qualify for a skilled worker visa by the allocation of seventy points under the points-based Immigration system.
  • Your application is in accordance with the Home Office issued guidance for skilled worker visas. Home Office officials have to follow this guidance when deciding whether to grant or refuse a skilled worker visa application.

As the Home Office guidance on skilled worker visa applications has been in force since December 2020, the specialist work visa lawyers at OTS Solicitors are starting to see trends in why skilled worker visa applications have been refused when work visa applicants approach the Immigration law team for help, after their first application has been rejected.

The reality is that if you follow the Home Office skilled worker visa guidance to the letter you should not go far wrong with your skilled worker visa application. However, the problem often lies in the fact that work visa applicants don’t understand the importance of exactly following the guidance or don’t fully understand what is expected of them in their skilled worker visa application. In addition, if there is something in your work visa application that a Home Office official can exercise their discretion over and grant your skilled worker visa application then it pays to give an explanation so the Home Office caseworker has sufficient information to exercise their discretion and grant your work visa application.

Why are skilled worker visa applications refused by the Home Office?

It is best to know why your skilled worker visa application may be refused by a Home Office official so you can either check your application thoroughly before submission or take legal advice from a specialist immigration solicitor. The most common reasons why your work visa application may be rejected or refused are:

  • You haven’t completed the correct application form or
  • You haven’t paid the right application fee. Remember that in addition to the application fee you also need to pay the Immigration health surcharge or
  • You haven’t correctly included the right certificate of sponsorship reference or job code or
  • You haven’t provided the right supporting evidence for your skilled worker visa application. For example, you haven’t provided evidence that you meet the English language or the maintenance requirement or haven’t provided your most up to date passport, or
  • You haven’t scored seventy points under the points-based Immigration system. For example, your planned salary is less than the minimum salary threshold for the skilled worker visa and you have not provided any details about your tradeable points to get you to the required seventy points to qualify for a visa.
  • Your previous Immigration history means your application is refused (for example, previous overstaying on a visa or entering the UK on a visitor visa and applying for a skilled worker visa) or your presence in the UK isn’t deemed conducive to the public good or it is thought that false representations have been made (for example, falsely claiming that you have a relevant PhD).

In some situations, the issue with your skilled worker visa application may lie with your employer, rather than with you. For example, their Sponsor Licence may have been suspended or even revoked after they made the offer of a job or the Home Office may not be satisfied that the job is at the right skill level for a skilled worker visa.

What your employer needs to do

For you to secure your skilled worker visa your employer needs to:

  • Hold a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence.
  • Have made you a valid job offer – with the right skill set and meeting the relevant minimum salary threshold.
  • Have assigned you a certificate of sponsorship with the correct job title and code and confirmed start date.
  • Paid the Immigration skills charge.

Reaching the seventy points for a skilled worker visa

Reaching seventy points is a mandatory requirement for a skilled worker visa but how you get to the ‘magical’ number is up to you as whilst some points are mandatory to have, others are tradeable.

The 50 Mandatory points are:

Mandatory requirement

Points allocated

Comments

A job offer from an employer with a Sponsor Licence.

20 points

The Sponsor Licence must be a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and the job must be a genuine vacancy. The certificate of sponsorship allocated by the employer to the employee will contain details of the job offer.

The job must be at least RQF Level 3.

20 points

RQF 3 is the equivalent of an A-level qualification so the job must be skilled to that level and must be a Home Office approved job with an allocated code.

Speak the English language to the required standard.

10 points

A skilled worker visa applicant can either be exempt from sitting an English language test or will need to provide evidence that they have passed the approved English language test.

The tradeable points make up the remaining twenty points and there are options as to how to achieve those final twenty points. For example:

Tradeable requirement

Points

Comment

Meet the minimum salary threshold

20 points

The salary must be at least £25,600 or the going rate for the job (set by the Home Office) whichever is the higher.

PhD relevant to the job.

10 points

The salary must be at least £23,040 or 90% of the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher.

Science, technology, engineering or maths PhD relevant to the job.

20 points

The salary must be at least £20,480 or 80% of the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher.

The job is on the shortage occupation list.

20 points

If the job is on the shortage occupation list , the salary must be at least £20,480 or 80% of the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher.

You meet the eligibility criteria for a new entrant.

The salary must be at least £20,480 or 70% of the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher. If you are a new entrant you can only secure a skilled worker visa for four years.

Other important skilled worker visa eligibility criteria

It is easy to get caught up with points but to secure your skilled worker visa you also need to meet the basic eligibility criteria for a work visa, namely:

  • Previous Immigration compliance.
  • Have a TB certificate if you have been living in a high-risk TB country for at least six months before your skilled worker visa application.
  • Have a criminal record certificate if the job requires a certificate. If the job needs a certificate you need to provide a certificate for all countries you have lived in for more than twelve months in the past ten years.
  • Meet the financial requirement by having a minimum savings figure of £1,270 or your employer certifies the financial requirement.

The best way to get a skilled worker visa

The best tip on how to get your skilled worker visa is to not treat your job offer as a guarantee of entry clearance into the UK and to therefore take the same care and attention to detail with your skilled worker visa application as you did when preparing your job application and getting ready for your job interview.

If you are worried about any aspect of your skilled worker visa application, for example, your previous Immigration record or how you will reach the required seventy points for your work visa, it is best to take specialist legal advice before you submit your application. That way expert immigration solicitors can make sure that your application, and all its supporting documents, are right and reduce the risk of a Home Office official refusing your skilled worker visa application.

UK Immigration solicitors

For specialist advice on getting your skilled worker visa call the immigration law team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.

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