Appendix Skilled Worker sets out the rules for skilled migrant workers to be sponsored under the UK’s Immigration Rules.
The Skilled Worker route is the primary immigration route for overseas skilled workers looking to come to the UK, although an applicant must first meet various requirements to qualify for a visa under this route. These are set out in Appendix Skilled Worker.
The Appendix details specific eligibility, suitability, and validity requirements which must be met for an individual to be approved for a Skilled Worker visa, well as the rules for dependants and for sponsored workers to become eligible for ILR.
The following comprehensive guide looks in detail at Appendix Skilled Worker of the UK’s Immigration Rules, including the relevant requirements to apply for this type of visa.
What is Appendix Skilled Worker?
Appendix Skilled Worker is the section of the Immigration Rules that specifies the various different criteria required to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa. This is a sponsored immigration route, where the applicant must first have the offer of a job from a UK licensed sponsor that meets the minimum skill and salary requirements under this route. This means that it is essential for both UK sponsors, ie; the organisation recruiting a foreign skilled migrant, as well as the visa applicant themselves, to understand Appendix Skilled Worker.
When does Appendix Skilled Worker apply?
Appendix Skilled Worker applies to all skilled migrant workers applying to work in the UK under the Skilled Worker route.
The Skilled Worker visa is for workers with a qualifying job offer 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.
UK employers recruiting skilled visa 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 and ensure the licence and visa requirements are met in order to sponsor the worker.
What does Appendix Skilled Worker say?
Appendix Skilled Worker is divided into a number of sections, including validity requirements, suitability requirements and eligibility requirements. These are the specific rules that an applicant must satisfy for the successful grant of entry clearance or leave to remain in the UK under this route. This decision will be made by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), the department of the Home Office responsible for the UK’s visa system.
There are also two additional sections under Appendix Skilled Worker setting out the rules relating to settlement in the UK, known as indefinite leave to remain, as well as the rules around dependants looking to accompany or follow to join the principal applicant or primary visa-holder. Below we set out what each of the five different sections say.
Skilled Worker visa validity requirements
Anyone applying for UK entry clearance or permission to remain as a Skilled Worker within the UK must apply online at GOV.UK using form ‘Skilled Worker visa’. However, an applicant who is applying for permission to stay must be already in the UK on the date that they apply and must neither have, nor have last been granted, permission as either a Visitor or Short-term student, or as the Parent of a Child Student, nor as a Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside of the Immigration Rules.
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; any fee and Immigration Health Charge must have been paid: the application fee for a Skilled Worker visa can vary from £479 to £1235 depending on the length of visa sought under this route, either 3 years or less or more than 3 years, as well as whether or not the job role falls within a shortage occupation as listed under Appendix Shortage Occupation List. The applicant will be responsible for paying this fee, although the UK sponsor can agree to cover this cost. The applicant may also need to pay the healthcare surcharge. This is an annual charge of £624 to enable the applicant to access the NHS in the UK.
- The applicant must have provided any required biometrics; if applying from outside the UK, the applying may be required to attend an overseas visa application centre to enrol a scan of their fingerprints and a photograph of their face, while this can be done at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) when applying from inside the UK.
- The applicant must have provided a passport or other travel document which satisfactorily establishes their identity and nationality; although an applicant may be eligible to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to confirm their identity without having to attend a scheduled appointment. In these cases, once the applicant’s identity has been confirmed, they will then be redirected to continue and complete their application form online.
- 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.
Finally, an applicant applying for entry clearance or leave to remain who has received an award from either a government or an international scholarship agency in the 12 months before applying, where this covers both fees and living costs for study in the UK, must have provided written consent to the application from that government or agency.
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 skilled worker 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
Students switching to Skilled Worker validity requirements
Following changes to the rules in July 2023, student visa holders, or those whose last grant of leave was as a student, are only allowed to switch into the Skilled Worker route if one of the following conditions apply on the date of making their application:
- they have completed their course of study for which the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies was assigned, or
- the course is full-time and degree-level or above with an education provider with a track record of immigration compliance, and the job will not start before the course completion date, or
- the applicant is a PhD student studying with an education provider with a track record of immigration compliance, and the job will not start any earlier than 24 months after their course started.
Skilled Worker visa suitability requirements
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.
Equally, when applying for leave to remain in the UK, the applicant must again not be in breach of any immigration laws, except where paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules 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.
Skilled Worker visa eligibility requirements
Under the 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, comprising 50 mandatory points and 20 tradeable points for meeting the relevant eligibility criteria.
Points are awarded as follows:
- 20 mandatory points for sponsorship, where the applicant must have an offer of a genuine job role within an eligible skilled occupation from a licensed UK sponsor that meets the requirements under the National Minimum Wage and Working Time Regulations. The sponsor must have issued the applicant with a valid CoS, where the UKVI caseworker making the decision must be satisfied that the job role on offer is genuine. Additionally, the job must not amount to the hire of the applicant to a third party, or contract work for a third party, who is not the sponsor. The sponsor must also have paid in full any required Immigration Skills Charge. This is payable when a new recruit is applying on this route from outside the UK for 6 months or more and inside the UK for any length of time.
- 20 mandatory points for a job at the required skill level, where this must be a job in an eligible occupation code listed either under Appendix Skilled Occupations or Appendix Shortage Occupation List. The sponsor must choose an appropriate occupation code that reflects the true nature of the role and its salary. When considering occupation codes, the UKVI caseworker will consider whether the sponsor has shown a genuine need for the job role as described, whether the applicant has the appropriate qualifications, skills and experience needed to do the role, as well as the sponsor’s history of compliance with the immigration system, including paying its sponsored workers appropriately.
- 10 mandatory points for demonstrating the necessary English language ability of at least level B1 (intermediate) on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in reading, writing, speaking and listening, as set out under Appendix English Language.
- 20 tradeable points: there are various options for being awarded tradeable points, including a minimum salary or educational qualification options. For example, an applicant can be awarded 20 points if their salary equals or exceeds £26,200 per year, £10.75 per hour ‘and’ the going rate for the occupation code. They may also be awarded 20 points for having a PhD in a subject relevant to the role, where their salary equals or exceeds £23,580 per year, £10.75 per hour ‘and’ 90% of the going rate.
In addition, the applicant must also be awarded 20 ‘tradeable’ points. If the applicant will be paid at least £26,200 gross per year (£10.75 per hour), 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 £23,580, 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 minimum, both £23,580 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, the applicant may also be required to meet a number of other eligibility requirements for a Skilled Worker visa, including:
- Skilled worker visa financial requirement: if the applicant is applying for entry clearance or leave to remain and has been in the UK for less than 12 months when they apply, they must have held funds of at least £1,270 for 28 days as set out under Appendix Finance. Alternatively, the sponsor must certify that they will maintain and accommodate the applicant up to the end of their first month of employment to an amount equivalent to this sum.
- Criminal records certificate requirement: if the applicant is applying for entry clearance from overseas and is being sponsored in a certain occupation code, such as a health or education role, they must produce a criminal record certificate from the appropriate authority in any country where they have been present for 12 months or more over the age of 18, whether continuously or in total, in the 10 year period prior to applying.
- Tuberculosis certificate requirement: if an applicant is applying for entry clearance from overseas and is from a listed country, they must provide a valid medical certificate as set out under Appendix T: tuberculosis screening, confirming that they have been screened for active pulmonary tuberculosis and that this tuberculosis is not present in them.
- ATAS requirement: if the requirement for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate in Appendix ATAS applies, the applicant must produce a valid ATAS certificate. The ATAS requirement is applicable where the job includes an element of PhD-level research in a relevant subject and the sponsor is also a licensed student sponsor.
Skilled Worker ILR requirements
The Skilled Worker visa route is a route to settlement. This essentially means that if the individual meets the relevant ILR requirements, including the continuous residence requirement, they can apply for permission to remain in the UK on an indefinite basis, 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 ILR applicant must have, or have last been granted, a visa as a Skilled Worker, although the continuous residence requirement does not necessarily need to consist solely of time spent on the Skilled Worker route. The 5-year continuous period can be made up of permission on the Global Talent or Scale-up routes, or a combination of these and other routes, provided the applicant meets the requirements under Appendix Continuous Residence.
The 5-year continuous residence period must consist of time with permission on any of, or any combination of, the following routes:
- any Tier 1 visa – except Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
- Skilled Worker or Tier 2 (General)
- Scale-up Worker
- T2 Minister of Religion or Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
- International Sportsperson, T2 Sportsperson or Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
- Global Talent
- Representative of an Overseas Business
Finally, to be eligible to apply for settlement under the Skilled Worker route, as with applying for either entry clearance or limited leave to remain in the UK, the applicant will need to meet the various validity and suitability requirements when applying.
Skilled Worker visa 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).
If a dependant is approved for a visa under the Skilled Worker route, this will typically be granted in line with the period of leave held by the primary visa-holder.
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 Skilled Worker route of the UK’s Immigration Rules. This route is designed for employers to recruit skilled individuals in a qualifying job role.
What are the eligibility requirements for a Skilled Worker visa?
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. They must have a genuine job offer from an approved licensed sponsor (20 points). The job must be 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 must speak English to the required standard of level B1 (intermediate), as set out under “Appendix English Language” (10 points). They must also meet the financial requirement, and where relevant pass criminal records checks and provide a tuberculosis certificate.
What are skilled worker tradeable points?
20 tradeable points may be available in certain circumstances, including relating to the skilled worker minimum salary or educational qualification options. For example, an applicant can be awarded 20 points if their salary equals or exceeds £26,200 per year, £10.75 per hour 'and' the going rate for the occupation code. They may also be awarded 20 points for having a PhD in a subject relevant to the role, where their salary equals or exceeds £23,580 per year, £10.75 per hour 'and' 90% of the going rate.
What's classed as a Skilled Worker?
A Skilled Worker is an overseas migrant who meets the relevant requirements under Appendix Skilled Worker of the UK’s Immigration Rules. This includes the offer of a job from a UK licensed sponsor meeting the minimum skill and salary requirements.
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.
When is a skilled worker eligible for UK settlement?
In addition to having spent a qualifying period of 5 years living lawfully in the UK, the applicant must also meet the following requirements: the knowledge of ‘Life in the UK' requirement as set out under Appendix KOL UK the sponsorship and salary requirements for settlement as a Skilled Worker, where the sponsor must confirm that they will still require the applicant to work for them, at least for the foreseeable future, and that the applicant’s salary will meet the applicable general salary threshold, the minimum hourly rate ‘and’ the going rate for their job role.
Can dependants join skilled workers in the UK?
To be eligible for a dependant visa under the Skilled Worker route, the applicant will need to meet all of the various validity, suitability and eligibility requirements as set out under the last section of Appendix Skilled Worker. These include relationship and financial requirements for both partner and child applicants, as well as a tuberculosis requirement, where applicable. Equally, a partner may need to meet a criminal record certificate requirement, while child applicants will also need to meet age and care requirements.
What is the code 6145 for skilled workers?
Code 6145 is an eligible occupation code under which an overseas national can be sponsored for a Skilled Worker visa. This includes care workers and home carers, such as care assistants, home carers and support workers in a nursing home.
What is a 3219 occupation code?
Code 3219 is the occupation code listed under the UK’s Immigration Rules when sponsoring overseas health associate professionals not elsewhere classified, including sponsoring a migrant worker for a role as an acupuncturist, homeopathy, hypnotherapist, massage therapist, reflexologist or sports therapist.
Last updated: 19 July 2023