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UK Skilled Worker Visa Solicitors

For a discussion about skilled worker visas or to book an appointment with a member of our business immigration team call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123.

Whether you’re a UK employer who’s unable to meet your recruitment needs without recruiting skilled migrant workers or an employee requiring a work visa, you need to know about the skilled worker visa and the eligibility criteria under the UK points based immigration system.

Our corporate immigration solicitors assist UK businesses, ranging from start-ups to SMEs to multi-nationals, on all of their immigration law requirements. This includes successfully applying for or renewing their Sponsorship Licences to enable them to recruit highly skilled migrant workers on skilled worker visas.

We ensure our clients achieve full compliance with the latest UK immigration Rules and UK  points based immigration system.

Who needs a skilled worker visa?

If you are planning to come to the UK to work the likelihood is that you will need a skilled worker visa. The visa is commonly referred to as a high skilled worker visa or highly skilled migrant visa and replaces the Tier 2 (General) visa.

Are you a UK employer looking to recruit employees from overseas? Or perhaps you’re looking to come to work in the UK? Either way, it is best to take immigration law advice on whether, as an employer, the company needs a Home Office issued Sponsorship Licence and whether, as an employee, you need a skilled worker visa.

An employee won't need a skilled worker visa if they’re:

  • A British citizen by birth or through making a British Citizenship application
  • A settled worker - for example, with Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK
  • An EU national who has applied for pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

The immigration rules on high skilled workers are complicated. If you have questions about whether you require a skilled worker visa or a job candidate needs a work visa, it is best to take expert advice so you or your company are not caught out.

For example, if a skilled worker changes their employer, they’ll need to apply for a new visa rather than simply transfer their skilled worker visa to their new employment. Applying for a new visa doesn’t delay the recruitment process but it’s essential for both employee and the employer that they follow the correct process.

If immigration rules are breached, an employee could place their immigration status at risk and the employer could face their Sponsorship Licence being audited, suspended or even revoked.

Why do EU citizens need skilled worker visas?

Some EU citizens need skilled worker visas because, after the end of free movement for EEA nationals, the UK immigration rules don’t distinguish between EU and non-EEA nationals.

EU citizens coming to the UK to live and work after the 31 December 2020 are treated in the same way for immigration purposes as non-EEA nationals. New rules and the requirement for EU nationals to apply for a skilled worker visa are potentially confusing to HR executives, business owners and employers as well as EU nationals looking to relocate to the UK.

Much of the confusion over whether EU citizens need skilled worker visas is because EU citizens (and their families) living in the UK before the 1 January 2021 don’t need a skilled worker visa and won't be subject to UK immigration control provided that they have pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme before the cut-off date for applications.

How does a UK employer sponsor a skilled worker?

UK employers need a Home Office Sponsorship Licence to employ skilled migrant workers. Without a Sponsorship Licence, a UK employer would be in breach of immigration rules and right to work legislation if they employed someone subject to UK immigration control without the necessary skilled worker visa.

The first step in the sponsor process is to apply for a Sponsorship Licence. Immigration solicitors say it’s best to apply for a Sponsorship Licence in advance of needing to recruit workers from overseas so securing the Sponsorship Licence doesn’t hold up recruitment plans.

Applying for a Sponsorship Licence

If you are a UK business owner, especially if you’re an entrepreneur start-up or SME, applying for a Sponsorship Licence can be daunting when HR executives are already hard pressed dealing with daily HR demands.

Our business immigration solicitors take the hassle out of applying for a Sponsorship Licence by carefully drafting the application and the statement in support and ensuring the correct documents are submitted in support of the application.

Just as importantly, our business immigration solicitors can help your HR executive make your company HR systems compliant with the Home Office Sponsor Management System requirements.

For more information on applying for a Sponsorship Licence and how our business immigration solicitors can help you click here.

What is the Certificate of Sponsorship requirement?

Skilled migrant workers must have a job offer from a UK employer with a Sponsorship Licence before they can apply for a skilled worker visa.

A UK company recruiting a skilled overseas worker needs to allocate the successful overseas job applicant with a defined or undefined Certificate of Sponsorship or reference number. That’s then used by the skilled worker when applying to the Home Office for their skilled worker visa.

The need for the skilled worker job to be a genuine vacancy

When UK employers with Sponsorship Licences are recruiting skilled migrant workers on skilled worker visas, the job on offer must be what is referred to in the immigration rules as a ‘genuine vacancy’. This means the vacancy must be a real job at the relevant skill level and salary for a skilled worker visa.

Most employers won't encounter difficulties with the genuine vacancy test but if you’re unsure if a specific role or job applicant meets the genuine vacancy and eligibility criteria for a skilled worker visa it’s best to contact a business immigration solicitor.

The skilled worker visa and the immigration skills charge

If a UK business owner with a Sponsorship Licence employs a skilled migrant worker on a skilled worker visa the Home Office imposes an immigration skills charge for each visa applicant. The charge is payable when the employer assigns the Certificate of Sponsorship to the proposed employee but is refundable if the employee fails to secure their visa.

The amount an employer pays for the immigration skills charge depends on the size and nature of the company. There are also some roles where exemptions to the immigration skills charge apply. Refunds of the immigration skills charge are payable if the skilled worker leaves their employment prior to the end of their skilled worker visa.

What is the skill level needed for a skilled worker visa

There is a lot of confusion about the skill level required for a skilled worker visa. To secure a skilled worker visa, a migrant has to be employed in a job that is on the list of eligible occupations. They must also be paid a minimum salary, the level of which will depend on the type of work they do.

You can read the UK government’s list of eligible occupations here.

What is the English language requirement for the skilled worker visa?

Most employers are anxious about whether a preferred job candidate will meet the English language requirement for a skilled worker visa.

Our business immigration solicitors can often reassure business owners and prospective employees that the worker may automatically meet the English language requirement by virtue of their country of nationality or qualifications.

Alternatively, the employee can sit an approved English language test as part of the skilled worker visa application process.

What is the salary threshold for a skilled worker visa?

The salary threshold for a UK skilled work visa will depend on the occupation of the person applying. The UK government gives general guidance that your salary must be whichever is highest out of £25,600/year or £10.10/hour. However, if the ‘going rate’ for the type of role you will be working in is higher than this, then you will need to meet that threshold instead.

Knowing which salary threshold applies and what the ‘going rate’ is for a role can be tricky, so our business immigration solicitors will be happy to advise you on the salary threshold for a particular occupation.

Does a job have to be on the shortage occupation list to secure a work visa?

A job doesn’t have to be on the UK government shortage occupation list for a prospective employee to get a skilled worker visa, but the job’s inclusion on the list helps with tradeable points and the minimum salary threshold.

If you are unsure about whether your job role meets the shortage occupation list contact us here.

Who is a new entrant to the labour market for a skilled worker visa?

An employee is a ‘new entrant’ if they are under 26 or studying or a recent graduate or in professional training. If a job candidate qualifies as a new entrant the minimum salary threshold is reduced.

The Financial Requirement

The financial requirement for a skilled worker visa is the amount of money an employee needs to prove they have before their arrival in the UK as evidence that they can support themselves.

The figure set by the Home Office is currently £1,270 to be held for a period of 28 days before application is made or the employer can certify this if they wish when assigning the certificate of sponsorship to the employee.

What is the criminal record certificate requirement?

An employee needs to provide a criminal record certificate when submitting their visa application if they’ve been offered sponsored employment in specific sectors, such as healthcare or education.

Do employers need to complete a Resident Labour Market Test?

UK employers don’t need to complete a Resident Labour Market Test to recruit skilled migrant workers, but there may be circumstances where this is still advisable.

Employers need to show they have a genuine vacancy that meets the skill and salary level for the skilled worker visa.

Switching to the skilled worker visa

If you are in the UK on a different type of visa you may be able to apply to switch to the skilled worker visa if you have a sponsoring employer and meet the eligibility criteria.

For more information on whether you can switch to the skilled worker visa call our immigration experts on 0203 959 9123.

The cooling off period and the skilled worker visa

There’s no cooling off period for a skilled worker visa holder. This means there’s nothing to prevent a prospective employee from applying for another visa after they have left the UK, provided the new sponsored employment meets the criteria for a skilled migrant visa.

How long does a skilled worker visa last for?

A skilled worker visa lasts for up to five years. An employee should think about extending their visa or settlement options, such as Indefinite Leave to Remain, before their work visa expires.

How long can you stay in the UK on a skilled worker visa?

There are no limits to the number of times an employee can apply to extend their skilled worker visa provided they meet the visa eligibility criteria. Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain once an employee has met the residence requirement means they no longer require a visa and are free of immigration controls.

What are the immigration conditions on a skilled worker visa?

Immigration conditions on a skilled worker visa include maintaining employment with a sponsoring employer. If sponsored employment is lost, the visa will normally be curtailed to give the migrant worker a short period of time to secure employment with another sponsoring employer or apply for a different type of visa.

If you are worried about immigration conditions it is best to take early immigration advice as being in breach can affect your immigration status and prospects of successfully extending your visa or settling in the UK.

Can dependants of skilled workers come to the UK?

The partners, children and those qualifying under the immigration rules as dependants of skilled worker visa applicants can apply for a dependant visa to accompany an employee to the UK.

Apply as a Skilled Worker

For help with Sponsorship Licences or applying for a skilled worker visa our business immigration team can guide you through the process.

Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete this form for expert advice.

Applying for a skilled worker visa from outside the UK

If you’re applying for a skilled migrant visa from outside the UK you will need to apply online with supporting information supplied by your employer, such as the Certificate of Sponsorship reference code, job title and salary.

For help with your skilled worker visa application call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.

Applying for a skilled worker visa from within the UK

If you are in the UK you may need a skilled worker visa because you are changing your sponsoring employer or because your previous visa is expiring.

For help with your skilled worker visa application call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.

How much does the skilled worker visa cost?

When an employee applies for a skilled worker visa, they need to pay the visa application fee (the amount depends on circumstances) as well as the healthcare surcharge and meet the financial requirement.

Supporting documents for a skilled worker visa application

The documents an employee needs to provide with their visa application depends on the nature of the job and their circumstances. Our business immigration team can help employers and employees ensure the right documents are provided so the visa is obtained as quickly as possible.

Fast Track options for skilled worker visas and processing times

The Home Office says it takes around two to three weeks to process a skilled worker visa application made outside the UK and eight weeks for applications made within the UK. Times vary depending on the complexity of the application and whether you chose to pay a fast track Home Office application fee to get a visa decision within days.

Skilled worker visas and biometric appointments

To secure a skilled worker visa you will probably need to attend a biometric appointment at a visa centre for fingerprints and a photograph to be taken as part of the application process.

For a discussion about skilled worker visas or to book an appointment with a member of our business immigration team call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123.

Your Questions and our answers about UK Skilled Worker Visa Solicitors

Thank you for your enquiry. If the admin review does not result in a favorable outcome, we can advise on potential legal avenues, such as appeals or judicial review. Given the complexities of immigration law, it is essential to have professional legal representation to navigate through these challenges successfully. It is also important at this stage to be able to substantiate and prove the elements referenced above. For more information, please contact us on 02039599123 or click here 

With the CoS from your sponsor, you can then apply for the relevant UK work visa (e.g., Skilled Worker Visa) through the points-based system. This involves meeting the visa criteria, including a job offer from the licensed sponsor and meeting the required points based on salary, skill level, English proficiency, etc.

It’s essential that the company follows all legal and regulatory procedures to revive its status and apply for the necessary licenses to sponsor workers. Additionally, as an individual applying for a visa, you need to meet the specific visa requirements under Appendix Skilled Worker. Please contact us on 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry. For your husband’s situation, as a dependent visa holder linked to your Tier 2 sponsorship and considering your naturalization as a British citizen, the appropriate form for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application would likely be FORM SET (O) – Application for Indefinite Leave to Remain Other Purposes.

FORM SET (O) is typically used for individuals who do not fall under specific visa categories and are applying for ILR for reasons other than those covered by other application forms. In this case, your husband, as a dependent on your previous visa, might not fit the criteria specifically outlined in FORM SET (M) for partners.

Rules and forms can occasionally change, and seeking advice from OTS Solicitors can offer tailored guidance based on the most current regulations. Please contact us on 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

Your partner may be able to switch from sponsored employment to a spouse visa. There are various eligibility and suitability requirements for you and your child in addition to being able to meet the financial threshold of a minimum of £18,600 per year income plus additional for any dependents. The continuous residence would start from the beginning in this scenario. The requirements are in depth and we would advise that you arrange a consultation to determine if this route is appropriate. For more information, please call 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

You would usually receive a curtailment letter from the Home Office explaining your options if your employer has correctly notified them on the company’s circumstances. You would usually have a limited amount of time to switch to another sponsored route which can be done within the UK. We would recommend that you get in touch for more information and visit our sponsorship licence pages. Please contact us on 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

Your employer may need to find the most suitable and closest description under the relevant occupation code. It is important to note the ‘going rate’ and salary requirements for the position. We would recommend that you get in touch for more information and visit our sponsorship licence pages. Please contact us on 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

The cost of the sponsorship licence will depend on the size of the business.  If you are looking to sponsor candidates for employment, you would need to issue a valid CoS to the new employee. You may be able to apply for a defined CoS where you have already selected people to fill the positions or an undefined CoS which provides greater flexibility. We would recommend that you get in touch for more information and visit our sponsorship licence pages. Please contact us on 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

The cost of the sponsorship licence will depend on the size of the business.  If you are looking to sponsor candidates for employment, you would need to issue a valid CoS to the new employee. You may be able to apply for a defined CoS where you have already selected people to fill the positions or an undefined CoS which provides greater flexibility. We would recommend that you get in touch for more information and visit our sponsorship licence pages. Please contact us on 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

This would depend on the category of visa you have been granted. If it is a family/partner based visa, you may be able to make an in-country extension to satisfy the 5-year continuous residence requirement. If you are on a sponsored visa for employment, you would need to be issued a valid CoS covering the period of leave. For more information, please contact us on 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

The most-straightforward route may be to obtain a certificate of sponsorship from the company referenced above. The company would need to apply for a defined CoS which would enable them to sponsor you for a defined period to work for them. We can assist with the sponsorship licence and the skilled worker visa when you have obtained your CoS. For more information, please call 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

You would first need to obtain endorsement from one of the relevant endorsing bodies prior to making your application. We would be happy to discuss this with you during a meeting and explain the endorsement process and how to obtain a letter of endorsement. For more information, please call 02039599123 or click here 

Thank you for your enquiry.

There are various ways in which continuous residence can be met and we would need to identify your specific circumstances prior to advising on whether this is the most applicable route for you however it is unlikely that the years spent under the T5 route would count towards this. For more information, please call 02039599123 or click here 

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