More information about the new skilled worker visa was released in the October 2020 Statement of Changes to the immigration Rules. The old Tier 2 (General) visa will be known as the skilled worker visa. The changes will affect non-EEA nationals from the 1 December 2020 and EU citizens from the 1 January 2021. In this blog we look at the key aspects of the skilled worker visa.
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When can you apply for a UK skilled worker visa?
From the 1 December 2020 you can submit a skilled worker visa applications for:
- EU citizens starting work on or after the 1 January 2021 and
- Non-EEA citizens starting work after the 1 December 2020.
There are different timescales depending on whether you are an EU citizen or a non-EEA national because free movement for EU citizens doesn’t end until 11pm on the 31 December 2020. After that date the same immigration Rules will apply equally to EU and non-EEA citizens unless an EU national entered the UK prior to the 31 December 2020 and applies for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme by the cut-off date.
What is the definition of skilled work for a skilled worker visa?
The skill level needed to apply for a skilled worker visa is A level standard, referred to as RQF 3. This is a reduction in the current skill level for a Tier 2 (General) visa as that is degree level, referred to as RQF 6. UK employers will therefore be able to recruit a wider range of job applicants under the new skilled worker visa, subject to visa candidates meeting all the other skilled worker visa eligibility criteria.
What is the minimum salary required for a skilled worker visa?
The rules say that the minimum salary required for a skilled worker visa is £25,600. However, exceptions apply so it is best to take legal advice on whether the job and salary is suitable for an overseas candidate needing a work visa. For example, lower salaries can be accepted if a job applicant has a relevant PhD qualification or the worker will be filling a recognised shortage occupation role on the government shortage occupation list.
Immigration solicitors say that the basic salary threshold of £25,600 can be confusing as job applicants on skilled worker visas must be paid at least the basic salary threshold or the going rate for the role, whichever is higher. Furthermore, salary thresholds will be reduced for new entrants, including those who are switching from being a student or are under the age of twenty six.
Do jobs have to be advertised in the UK first before a skilled worker visa applicant can apply?
Under the Tier 2 (General) visa there is a requirement for an employer to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test and to offer the job to a settled worker provided that there is a suitable settled worker candidate. There is no such requirement with the skilled worker visa.
Is there a limit to the number of skilled worker visas available?
It is said that the cap on the number of work visas will be suspended. However, immigration solicitors advise that it is possible this cap could be reintroduced in the future. This is likely if the government takes the view that the number of overseas workers coming to the UK on work visas needs to be limited.
Is the skilled worker visa a points based visa?
Applicants for a skilled worker visa need to achieve seventy points under the new UK points based immigration system to secure a work visa. Normally an applicant can do so based on their skills and the salary payable for the role. Alternatively, points can be obtained if the job is on the shortage occupation list so a visa potentially could be secured even if the advertised job is at a lower rate of pay.
Can you settle in the UK after entry on a skilled worker visa?
You can apply to settle in the UK and secure Indefinite Leave to Remain if you enter the UK on a skilled worker visa and you meet the Indefinite Leave to Remain eligibility criteria. The minimum income threshold for your Indefinite Leave to Remain application has been reduced from the £35,800 salary threshold to the figure of £25,600 or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.
The new skilled worker visa will be confusing for both UK employers and overseas job applicants, especially those from the EU who aren’t used to being subject to UK immigration controls. If you would like bespoke advice on your skilled worker visa application or help with a Sponsor Licence application then contact the work visa and sponsor licence solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.
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Posted on: Monday, 09 November, 2020