Appendix Skilled Worker sets out the rules for sponsoring skilled migrant workers under the UK’s Immigration Rules.
When does Appendix Skilled Worker apply?
Free movement between the UK and the EU ended on 31 December 2020. A single points-based immigration system came into force for all new arrivals to the UK after this date. This new system applies equally to EU, EEA and Swiss nationals (EEA nationals), as well as to migrants from outside of these areas (non-EEA nationals), where EU citizens will be subject to the same immigration rules and controls as non-EEA nationals.
From 1 January 2021, UK employers recruiting skilled workers from overseas, from both within and outside the EU, EEA and Switzerland, will need to have in place a valid Home Office-approved sponsor licence.
The new Appendix Skilled Worker applies to all skilled migrant workers who are required to hold a visa to work in the UK, including EEA nationals (with the exception of Irish citizens) who do not have permission to live and work in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. Irish nationals can continue to live and work in the UK as they do now.
The Skilled Worker visa is the new visa that has replaced the old Tier 2 (General) work visa where, in broad terms, to be granted this type of visa a migrant worker must have the offer of a job in an eligible skilled occupation from a Home Office-approved sponsor in the UK. The Skilled Worker route is designed for employers to recruit people to work in the UK in a specific job role. There are certain rules relating to what type of job this must be and what salary it must pay, in addition to various other validity, suitability and eligibility requirements.
These rules are all set out under the new Appendix Skilled Worker that came into force on 1 December 2020, and which forms the basis for an application for a Skilled Worker visa.
What are the validity requirements for a Skilled Worker visa?
Applications for UK entry clearance or permission to remain as a Skilled Worker are made online on the gov.uk website using the relevant form. EEA nationals with a chipped passport may use the relevant online form or the “UK Immigration: ID Check” app.
To be valid, an application for entry clearance or permission to stay as a Skilled Worker must meet all of the following requirements:
- the applicant must be aged 18 or over on the date of application;
- the applicant must have paid any fee and Immigration Health Charge;
- the applicant must have provided any required biometrics;
- the applicant must have provided a passport or other travel document which satisfactorily establishes their identity and nationality; and
- the applicant must have a certificate of sponsorship that was issued to them by their UK sponsor no more than 3 months before the date of application. This is an electronic certificate containing a unique reference number.
For most EEA nationals, their application will involve submitting a digital photo via a smartphone app, whereas non-EEA nationals will still need to attend an overseas visa application centre to provide their fingerprints when applying outside the UK.
Applications for leave to remain in the UK can only be made where the applicant is in the in the UK on the date of making the application. In addition, the applicant must not have, or have last been granted, permission under any of the following visa routes:
- Short-term student
- Parent of a child student
- Seasonal worker
- Domestic worker in a private household
- Outside the Immigration Rules
What are the suitability requirements for a Skilled Worker visa?
Suitability requirements apply to all immigration routes in the UK, and must be met in addition to the specific validity and eligibility requirements. The applicant must therefore not fall for refusal under Part 9 of the rules which deal with grounds for refusal.
These grounds include, for example, where an applicant is the subject of an exclusion or deportation order, where the applicant has been convicted of a criminal offence in the UK or overseas for which they have received a custodial sentence of 12 months or more, or has committed a criminal offence, or offences, which caused serious harm.
More than one ground for refusal may apply, for example, where the applicant is a recently convicted criminal for which they have served a lengthy custodial sentence and their presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good because of their conduct or character.
If applying for leave to remain in the UK under Appendix Skilled Worker, the applicant must not be:
- in breach of immigration rules, unless paragraph 39E applies, or
- on immigration bail.
Paragraph 39E of Part 1 of the Immigration Rules provides an exception for overstayers, including where the application was submitted within 14 days of the date that the individual’s leave expired and where they can show good reason beyond the control of the applicant or their representative as to why the application could not be made in time.
What are the eligibility requirements for a Skilled Worker visa?
Under the new Skilled Worker visa route, applicants will need to meet a specific set of eligibility requirements for which they will score a certain number of points. A Skilled Worker visa will then be granted to those who reach the relevant minimum 70 points threshold.
The applicant must attain 50 mandatory points for the following:
- They have a genuine job offer from an approved licensed sponsor, where they have been issued with a valid certificate of sponsorship and the sponsor has paid in full any required Immigration Skills Charge (20 points);
- The job is at the required skill level of RQF3 or above, equivalent to A level, within an eligible occupation code as set out under “Appendix Skilled Occupations” (20 points);
- They speak English to the required standard of level B1 (intermediate), as set out under “Appendix English Language” (10 points).
In addition, the applicant must also be awarded 20 ‘tradeable’ points. If the applicant will be paid at least £25,600 or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher, this will give them the remaining 20 points required. If the job will pay less than the general salary threshold or specific salary requirement for that role, but no less than £20,480, the applicant may trade specific characteristics against a lower salary to get the required number of points.
There are various ways in which this can be done, including where the applicant holds a PhD in a subject relevant to the job and the salary for the role is, as a mininum, both £23,040 and 90% of the going rate for the job (where 10 points will be awarded for each the educational qualification and the salary). Other ‘tradeable’ characteristics include where the applicant has a job offer in a shortage occupation (see “Appendix Shortage Occupation List”), the job is in a listed health or education occupation or they are deemed a ‘new entrant’ to the UK labour market.
In addition to the points criteria set out above, in some cases there are also other requirements that must be met for a Skilled Worker visa, including:
A financial requirement: if the applicant has been in the UK for less than 12 months on the date of application, they must have held funds of at least £1,270 for a 28-day period, or the sponsor must confirm they will “maintain and accommodate” the applicant (where necessary) up to the end of the first month of their employment, to an amount of at least this sum (see “Appendix Finance”);
A criminal records certificate requirement: in cases where an applicant is applying for entry clearance and is being sponsored for a job in certain health/education and other occupations, they have to submit a criminal record certificate. This must be issued from the relevant authority in the country where they have been present for 12 months or more in the 10 years before the date of application, and while aged 18 or over;
A tuberculosis certificate requirement: in cases where an applicant is applying for entry clearance and is from a listed country, they must provide a valid medical certificate confirming that they have undergone screening for active pulmonary tuberculosis and that this tuberculosis is not present in them (see “Appendix T: tuberculosis screening”).
Skilled Worker ILR requirements
The Skilled Worker visa route is a route to settlement. This will allow the migrant worker to remain in the UK indefinitely without restriction. Applications for settlement as a Skilled Worker are made online on the gov.uk website using form SET(O).
To be eligible to apply for settlement, an applicant will need to meet various validity, suitability and eligibility requirements. In particular, the applicant must have spent a qualifying period of 5 years in the UK and meet the following requirements:
- the continuous residence requirement (see “Appendix Continuous Residence”);
- the knowledge of Life in the UK requirement ( see “Appendix KOL UK”);
- the sponsorship and salary requirements for settlement as a Skilled Worker, where the applicant’s salary has to be at least the general salary requirement or the listed going rate requirement, whichever is higher.
The 5-year continuous residence period must consist of time with permission on any of, or any combination of, the following routes:
- Skilled Worker; or
- Global Talent; or
- Innovator; or
- Tier 2 Minister of Religion; or
- Tier 2 Sportsperson; or
- Representative of an Overseas Business; or
- Tier 1 Migrant, other than as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant.
Skilled Worker dependants
Under the Skilled Worker route, a partner and any child(ren) can apply to join the main visa-holder or to stay in the UK as ‘dependants’ if they are eligible. There are again separate forms for this online. A dependant partner or child is any of the following:
- a husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner;
- a child under 18, including if they were born in the UK during the visa-holders stay;
- a child over 18 if they are currently in the UK as the visa-holders dependant.
To be eligible, the applicant will need to meet the various validity, suitability and eligibility requirements as set out under Appendix Skilled Worker including a relationship and financial requirement (for partner and child applicants), age and care requirements (for child applicants), and a criminal record certificate requirement (for partner applicants).
We are specialist UK immigration lawyers, with substantial experience and recognised expertise in advising employers and workers on UK employment sponsorship, sponsor licence applications and management, and Skilled Worker visa applications. For specialist immigration advice to support your talent mobility and business operations, contact us.
Appendix Skilled Worker FAQs
What is Appendix Skilled Worker?
Appendix Skilled Worker sets out the requirements for a visa under the new Skilled Worker route of the UK’s Immigration Rules. This route is designed for employers to recruit people to work in the UK in a specific job role and came into force on 1 December 2020, replacing the old Tier 2 (General) work visa.
What are the eligibility requirements for a Skilled Worker visa?
In broad terms, the eligibility requirements for a Skilled Worker visa are that the applicant must have a job offer in an eligible skilled occupation from a licensed UK sponsor and meet the relevant English language requirements as detailed in Appendix English Language. Under “Appendix Skilled Worker” of the UK’s Immigration Rules, applicants will need to accrue a total of 70 points to be eligible for the skilled worker route.
Can a skilled worker apply for ILR?
A skilled worker can apply for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) under either the new Skilled Worker route or the old Tier 2 (General) visa route. Individuals who have held permission under either one of these categories for a continuous period of 5 years can apply for ILR (also known as settlement) where they meet a number of requirements.
Last updated: 29 December 2020