Skilled Worker visas are issued for a period of up to five years. To remain in the UK beyond this, the worker has to make an application for a Skilled Worker visa extension before their current visa expires to avoid overstaying.
As with the initial visa application, the worker will need to show when they apply for the renewal that they continue to meet the eligibility requirements under the Skilled Worker route.
In this guide, we explain the requirements to be met and the process to follow to make a Skilled Worker visa extension application.
Skilled Worker visa extension requirements
The Skilled Worker visa is for individuals wanting to work in the UK in an eligible skilled occupation with a Home Office approved sponsor.
This means that, in most cases, a migrant worker can apply to extend a Skilled Worker visa if:
- they’re working in the same job role as when they were given their previous permission
- their job is within the same occupation code as when they were granted that permission
- they have the same sponsor who assigned their existing Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
- that employer is still approved by the UK Home Office to sponsor skilled workers.
If the migrant worker has been living and working in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer on the date of their renewal application, they’ll meet the financial requirement under the Skilled Worker route and do not need to show funds of at least £1,270.
What are the requirements for a Tier 2 (General) visa extension?
Under the new rules, Tier 2 (General) visa holders can apply to extend their grant of leave, but their visa extension will be processed under the Skilled Worker category. This means that the application will be subject to the eligibility requirements under this route, including being employed in a qualifying role for a sponsoring employer at a certain salary level.
If the migrant worker was assigned an CoS on or after 24 November 2016, and they apply to extend before 1 December 2026, they’ll need to meet the new salary requirements, although this may include any allowances, such as London weighting, guaranteed for the duration of their stay. The minimum salary is usually whichever is the highest of £26,200 per year or the ‘going rate’ for their job role.
How to apply for a Skilled Worker visa extension
To apply for a Skilled Worker visa renewal, the migrant worker will need to submit an online application from within the UK, together with their supporting documentation.
Applicants must have a new CoS to be able to renew their visa. As part of the application process they’ll also need to prove their identity, although how they do this will all depend on the type of passport they hold and where they’re from. They may need to provide their fingerprints and photograph at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point, to enable them to get a biometric residence permit. Alternatively, rather than attending a UKVCAS appointment, they may be able to create a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account and use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their identity document.
The applicant will be instructed as to what they need to do when they apply for their Skilled Worker visa renewal. Having made an application, the applicant must not travel outside of either the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until they’ve received their UKVI decision. If they do travel outside these areas, their renewal application will be withdrawn.
How much does a Skilled Worker visa renewal cost?
The cost of applying for a Skilled Worker visa renewal will depend on the applicant’s circumstances and how long they’ll be working in the UK, but will usually include an application fee, plus the healthcare surcharge payable at £624 per year of stay. An additional fee of £19.20 may also apply for the applicant to submit their biometric information.
The standard application fees to extend your visa from within the UK range from £719 per person for up to 3 years or £1,423 per person for more than 3 years.
A lower application fee will be payable if the applicant’s job is on the shortage occupation list, set at £479 for up to 3 years or £943 for more than 3 years
The application fee, healthcare surcharge and any biometric fee are the applicant’s responsibility, although as their UK sponsor, unless an exception applies, an Immigration Skills Charge is payable each time you assign a CoS to an individual on the Skilled Worker route.
The amount you’ll need to pay is based on the size of your organisation and how long the migrant worker will be employed by you, using the start and end dates on their CoS. For small and charitable sponsors the cost is £364 for the first 12 months, and £182 for each additional 6 month period. For medium and large sponsors, the cost is £1,000 and £500 respectively. An employer will usually be classed as a small sponsor if their annual turnover is £10.2 million or less, their total assets are worth £5.1 million or less and/or they have 50 employees or fewer.
When should an application for a Skilled Worker visa extension be made?
A Skilled Worker visa will allow a migrant to work in the UK in an eligible job with a licensed sponsor up to a maximum of 5 years before they need to extend it. However, regardless of how long the migrant worker’s initial grant of leave was for, they must apply to renew their Skilled Worker visa, or Tier 2 (General) visa, prior to expiry of their existing leave.
If the application is submitted in-time, the applicant will usually be able to continue working for you pending a decision from UKVI, although it’s always best to apply well in advance. The applicant will be permitted to submit their extension application up to 60 days before their existing visa is due to expire.The application must be made within 3 months of the CoS being issued or before the existing visa expires, whichever is sooner.
If the migrant worker has changed their job or started working for you as a new employer since their last grant of leave, they’ll need to apply to update their visa instead of applying for an extension. However, if they’ve worked for you throughout the duration of that leave, they’ll only need to update their visa if their job changes into a different occupation code or they leave a job that’s on the shortage occupation list for a job that’s not on the list. They’ll not need to apply again if they stay in the same job, but that job is taken off the shortage occupation list.
Are there limits to the number of Skilled Worker visa extensions?
The new Skilled Worker visa route was introduced as part of a major overhaul of the UK’s immigration system in response to leaving the EU, where the new system is now designed to apply equally to both EEA and non-EEA nationals. However, this overhaul also provided an opportunity for the Home Office to revise and relax the rules, making it much easier for skilled migrants to come to work in the UK, and, once here, to stay and settle indefinitely.
One of the most significant changes under the revised rules is that a Skilled Worker visa holder can apply to extend their leave to remain as many times as they like. The 6-year maximum length of stay under the previous Tier 2 (General) route has now been removed.
Provided the migrant worker continues to meet the relevant eligibility requirements, and doesn’t fall for refusal under the suitability requirements, for example, they’ve not breached the terms of their existing grant of leave or overstayed, they can apply to extend indefinitely.
How long does it take to process a Skilled Worker visa renewal?
Having submitted an application for a Skilled Worker visa renewal, a decision will usually be received from UKVI within 8 weeks. In some cases this could take longer, for example, if the applicant is asked to attend an interview. It may be possible to get a faster decision on a renewal application, using a priority service, although there will be an additional fee for this.
What is the process for dependants’ Skilled Worker visa renewals?
The partner or children of a skilled migrant worker will need to apply separately to extend their visa. They can either apply at the same time as the applicant or at any time before their current visa expires. This includes children who have turned 18 during their stay.
Dependants will need to apply online using their partner or parent’s Skilled Worker visa extension application number. This is called a Global Web Form (GWF) or Unique Application Number (UAN), and can be found on any emails and letters received from UKVI.
As part of their application, the migrant worker’s partner and/or children will need to prove their identity by attending a UKVCAS appointment or scanning their identity document using the online ID check app. They’ll be told what they need to do once they apply. As with the primary applicant, the partner or children of the migrant worker must not travel outside of the UK until they get a decision from UKVI, usually in around 8 weeks.
Can skilled workers apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
In addition to being able to extend a Skilled Worker visa indefinitely, this route also provides eligible visa holders with an avenue to settlement. This means that a migrant worker and any dependants who have held permission under this route for a qualifying period of 5 years, can apply for what’s known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
ILR will give the successful migrant the right to live and work in the UK for as long as they like, without any time restrictions. Further, this 5-year period doesn’t necessarily need to be made up solely of time spent under the Skilled Worker route, although the worker’s most recent permission must be as either a Skilled Worker or Tier 2 (General) migrant. The applicant must also be able to satisfy a continuous residence requirement, knowledge of Life in the UK (KOL) requirement, and certain sponsorship and salary requirements for settlement.
Skilled worker visa extension FAQs
How long can you extend a Skilled Worker visa?
You can extend a Skilled Worker visa up to a maximum of 5 years at a time. However, there’s no limit on how many times you can apply for an extension.
How many times can you extend a Skilled Worker visa UK?
Under the new Skilled Worker route, a visa holder can apply to extend their stay as many times as they like, where the 6-year maximum length of stay under the previous Tier 2 (General) route has been removed
Can I extend my UK working visa?
It’s possible to extend a working visa in the UK, provided you apply from within the UK prior to expiry of your existing leave, and continue to meet the relevant eligibility requirements.
Who is eligible for visa extension?
An applicant will be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa extension if they’re working in the same job role, in the same occupation code and for the same employer, as when granted their previous permission to work in the UK.
Last updated: 30 June 2022