Work visas for EU nationals
After 11 pm on the 31 December 2020 EU nationals arriving to live and work in the UK will be subject to Immigration controls. Immigration solicitors say that means that if you are an EU national who didn’t meet the 31 December 2020 deadline to move to the UK for work purposes then you will need a work visa to work in the UK. That’s because with the end of free movement EU nationals and non-EEA nationals will be treated in the same way under UK Immigration Rules. At the same time as changing the Immigration Rules for EU nationals the UK government is also introducing a new points based Immigration system for all visa applicants and a new work visa. The new work visa, the skilled worker visa, replaces the old Tier 2 (General) visa.
Skilled worker visa solicitors
London based OTS Solicitors specialise in immigration law and have an expert team of work visa and sponsor licence solicitors with substantial experience in applying for work visas and sponsor licences. For information on the new skilled worker visa call the work visa and Sponsor Licence immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.
When can I apply for an EU national skilled worker visa?
From the 1 December 2020 you can submit a skilled worker visa application if you are an EU citizen starting work on or after the 1 January 2021. However, if you move to live and work in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition period on the 31 December 2020 you may not need a skilled worker visa if you can exercise treaty rights under free movement and apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. To be eligible to apply for pre-settled status you must have your home base in the UK before the December deadline of the 31 December 2020 and apply for your pre-settled status by the EU Settlement Scheme cut-off date of the 30 June 2021.
How do I apply for a skilled worker visa?
To apply for a skilled worker visa you need a job offer from a UK employer who holds a Home Office issued sponsor licence. The Sponsor Licence is the employer’s authority to recruit overseas workers. If you don’t have a suitable job offer or your proposed employer doesn’t have a Sponsor Licence or isn’t planning to apply for one then you won't qualify for a work visa.
Getting a job offer from a sponsoring employer is a major achievement but to successfully apply for a skilled worker visa you need to meet a minimum number of points under the new points based Immigration system. At first glance the points system can appear very confusing as points are either mandatory or tradeable.
In essence, you need to meet your mandatory points to secure your skilled worker visa as those points are non-negotiable. For example, a mandatory requirement is your meeting the English language requirement for which you are allocated a set number of points towards your total work visa point score. However well qualified or skilled you are or however well paid the job you won't qualify for the skilled worker visa unless you meet the English language requirement as the English language requirement is mandatory rather than tradable. Speaking the English language to the Home Office approved acceptable standard gets you ten points under the points based Immigration system.
To secure your skilled worker visa you need a total of fifty mandatory points and twenty tradable points. Your job offer from an employer with a Home Office issued Sponsor Licence gets you twenty mandatory points provided that the job offer is at the minimum skill level for a skilled worker visa and pays a minimum salary of £25,600 (or £20,480 for a job that is on the shortage occupation list or is a listed health or education occupation).
Most skilled worker visa applicants need some help with negotiating the points based Immigration system and ensuring that they have the right number of points. It is therefore best to take specialist advice from skilled worker visa solicitorsbefore applying for your work visa to avoid disappointment and delay.
Do I meet the skills criteria for a skilled worker visa?
Many EU nationals who are realising that they will need a skilled worker visa to move to the UK to work after the 31 December 2020 are questioning what is meant by a ‘skilled worker’ and some are even assuming that they won't qualify as they don’t have a degree or a PhD or an occupational qualification. However the skill level for the new skilled worker visa is actually set at a lower rate than the Tier 2 (General) visa that it replaces.
To meet the skilled worker definition for the skilled worker visa your proposed job must be at or above the minimum skill level of RQF3 level. That is A level education or equivalent qualification. There is no need to hold a formal qualification for the job but the important point is that the job must need the minimum skill level. That means that even if you have a degree or post graduate qualifications you won't qualify for the skilled worker visa unless the job actually meets the minimum skill level of RQF3.
What is the minimum salary for a skilled worker visa?
You may have read that the minimum salary for a skilled worker visa is £25,600. That’s true but the Immigration Rules are actually a lot more complicated than the headline information so whether your job offer pays less or more than £25,600 you may still qualify for a skilled worker visa. That’s why it is best to take advice from a skilled worker visa solicitor on your planned move to the UK and visa application.
To secure your skilled worker visa you need to be paid the higher of the general salary threshold of £25,600 or the “going rate” for the particular job you have applied for.
However, there is a different route to get your skilled worker visa as provided that your job is going to pay a minimum of £20,480 you can qualify for the visa if:
- The job is included in the official Shortage Occupation List or
- You have a PhD and your PhD is relevant to the job you have applied for or
- You are applying for a job in a relevant health or education role or
- You are classed as a ‘‘new entrant’’.
What is the “going rate” for a job?
The going rate for a job can't be set by an employer or be determined by you as the job applicant. The going rate is set by the Home Office and is based on 25th percentile of earnings with rates published for each profession. That means that if the going rate for a job is £50,000 you won't meet the eligibility criteria if your proposed employer is going to pay you the minimum salary of £25,600 because the rules say that you need to be paid the higher of the general salary threshold of £25,600 or the “going rate” for the particular job you have applied for.
Will my PhD help secure my skilled worker visa?
If you have a PhD you will only get extra points under the points based Immigration system if your PhD is relevant to the job you are applying for. It is for your sponsoring employer (rather than you) to justify the PhD to the job role and, in addition, a PhD is only applicable to certain occupations.
Do I qualify as a “new entrant” for a skilled worker visa?
If you fall within the definition of a new entrant then you may find it easier to obtain a skilled worker visa. You are classed as a new entrant if you are:
- Switching from a student visa or from the graduate route or
- Under the age of twenty six at the date of your application or
- Working towards a professional qualification (working towards a professional qualification means you are working towards full registration or chartered status with a relevant professional body).
If you fall within the definition of a new entrant then you may meet the minimum income threshold for a skilled worker as the going rate for the job can be reduced by thirty percent of the going rate but the salary still can't be less than £20,840 a year.
A working example of whether you qualify for a skilled worker visa
Talk of mandatory and tradeable points and changing minimum salaries can get very confusing but the example below shows why you should not just read the headline news about skilled worker visa eligibility criteria and why it can be best to take expert legal advice from skilled worker visa solicitors.
Take the hypothetical case of Pierre, age twenty six who has completed a veterinary science degree at a London UK university. As Pierre started under the graduate route he qualifies under the new entrant criteria.
As a young veterinary Pierre is offered a job at a starting salary of £23,000. Whilst the salary is below the general minimum threshold of £25,600 it is above the cut-off point of £20,480 for new entrants. However, that ignores the requirement for the salary to be the higher of £25,600 or the going rate for the job. The current going rate for Pierre’s job is £32,500.
On the face of things, Pierre won't qualify for the skilled worker visa but as he is classed as a new entrant he only has to be offered a salary that is higher than seventy percent of the going rate. The seventy percent minimum is £22,750 so Pierre qualifies.
If Pierre wasn’t a new entrant then to qualify for the skilled worker visa the job would have had to pay the greater of the minimum income threshold of £25,600 or eighty percent of the £32,500 going rate for the job – in other words Pierre would have had to be paid a minimum of £26,000.
You may conclude that you need a maths qualification to assess whether you qualify for a skilled worker visa but immigration solicitors say that detailed knowledge of the Immigration Rules is the best key to a successful skilled worker visa application.
If you need expert advice on your skilled worker visa application then contact the work visa solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.