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Switch to Skilled Worker Visa Guide

switch to skilled worker visa

IN THIS SECTION

If you are already in the UK with a valid visa, the ability to apply for a Skilled Worker visa without having to leave the country is highly appealing and convenient. However, this process to switch visa categories involves specific procedural and eligibility requirements that must be met, or you risk your application being refused and potentially losing your lawful status to remain in the UK.

In this guide, we detail the evidential and procedural requirements to apply to switch your status to the Skilled Worker visa.

Given the importance of an application to switch to the Skilled Worker route, taking professional advice can help maximise your prospects of a successful outcome.

As UK immigration experts, we have specific experience in working with applicants switching visa categories, helping to manage the process and reduce the risk of application issues or problems that can affect lawful status. For specialist guidance and support, contact us.

 

Section A: Skilled Worker Eligibility Criteria

 

For individuals already in the UK on a different type of visa, switching to a Skilled Worker Visa can offer several benefits.

Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa not only allows you to meet the requirements of your current job, it can also be a significant step in advancing your career, paving the way for future professional success and stability in the UK.

Holding a Skilled Worker Visa opens doors to various professional opportunities, allowing you to work with leading companies and in diverse sectors. Many high-skill job roles in the UK require this visa, making it essential for career growth and access to better job opportunities.

Because a Skilled Worker visa ties your immigration status directly to your employment, you can benefit from enhanced job security, and given this visa can lead to indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK after five years, it offers a clear pathway to long-term residency and stability.

The visa also allows dependants to join you in the UK, ensuring that your family can benefit from your career progression.

However, in order to apply to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK, you must meet specific eligibility criteria:

 

1. Current Visa Status

 

You must currently hold a valid UK visa that allows you to switch to the Skilled Worker Visa. Common visa types eligible for switching include the Student visa and Graduate Route.

Certain visas, such as Visitor visas, Short-term Study visas, and Seasonal Worker visas, do not permit switching to a Skilled Worker Visa from within the UK. In such cases, you would need to leave the UK and apply from abroad.

You are not eligible to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa if you are currently in the UK under any of the following conditions:

 

a. Standard visit visa

b. Short-term student visa

c. Parent of a Child Student visa

d. Seasonal worker visa

e. Domestic worker in a private household visa

f. Immigration bail

g. Granted permission to stay outside the immigration rules, such as on compassionate grounds

 

If you fall into any of these categories, you must leave the UK to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa from outside the country.

 

2. Qualifying Job Offer

 

You must have a confirmed job offer from a UK employer who holds a valid sponsor licence. The role must be on the list of eligible occupations, which includes roles that require specific skills and qualifications.

 

3. Salary Threshold

 

The job offer must meet the minimum salary requirement, which in most cases is £38,000 per year or the “going rate” for the particular job, whichever is higher. There are exceptions and lower salary thresholds for certain roles and situations, such as roles on the Immigration Salary List or new entrants to the job market.

 

4. Skill Level

 

The job must be at a skill level of RQF Level 3 or above (equivalent to A-levels).

 

5. English Language Proficiency

 

You must demonstrate proficiency in English, typically by passing an approved English language test at CEFR Level B1 (intermediate) or higher, or by having a degree taught in English.

 

6. Maintenance Funds

 

You must show that you have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds unless your sponsor can cover these costs.

 

7. Criminal Record Certificate

 

For certain occupations, you may need to provide a criminal record certificate from any country where you have lived for 12 months or more in the past 10 years.

 

Section B: Supporting Documentation

 

To prove your eligibility to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa, you will need to compile and submit a set of supporting documents.

Issues with your supporting documentation can result in delayed processing if the caseworker requests additional information, or potentially a refused application if the caseworker deems the evidence is insufficient to verify eligibility. It is worthwhile therefore to dedicate time to compiling a comprehensive and compelling submission.

 

1. List of Required Documents for the Application

As part of your Skilled Worker visa application, you should expect to have to provide the following:

 

a. Valid Passport or Travel Document: A current passport or other valid travel identification.

b. Job Offer Details: A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number provided by your UK employer. This certificate confirms your job offer and details about the job role and employer.

c. Proof of English Language Proficiency: An approved English language test pass certificate at CEFR Level B1 or above. Alternatively, a degree certificate if your degree was taught in English or if you are from an English-speaking country.

d. Evidence of Meeting Salary Requirements: Documentation from your employer stating your salary, ensuring it meets the required threshold.

e. Proof of Qualifications: Certificates or transcripts proving you meet the qualification requirements for your job role, if applicable.

f. Proof of Maintenance Funds: Bank statements showing you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK, unless your sponsor has confirmed they will cover these costs. Typically, you need to show at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 days.

g. Criminal Record Certificate: A criminal record certificate from any country where you have lived for 12 months or more in the past 10 years, if required for your job.

h. TB Test Results: Tuberculosis test results if you are from a country where you have to take the test.

i. Immigration Health Surcharge Receipt: Proof of payment of the immigration health surcharge, which grants you access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

j. Previous UK Visa Documentation: Copies of your previous UK visa(s) and evidence of your current immigration status.

k. Biometric Information: You will need to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) as part of the application process.

l. Additional Documents for Dependants: If applying with dependants, you will need to provide additional documentation, including proof of relationship (e.g., marriage certificate, birth certificates of children).

 

We offer expert guidance on supporting documentation to ensure applicants address all relevant aspects of their individual circumstances within their application.

 

2. Tips to Compile Supporting Documents

 

Avoid issues with your supporting documentation by following this expert advice:

 

a. Start Early: Begin gathering your documents well in advance of your application. Some documents, such as criminal record certificates, can take several weeks to obtain.

b. Create a Checklist: Make a comprehensive checklist of all required documents to ensure you don’t miss anything. Check off each item as you gather it.

c. Organise by Category: Sort documents into categories (e.g., identification, job offer, qualifications) and use labelled folders or binders to keep them organised.

d. Make Copies: Create copies of all original documents. Keep a set of copies for your records and submit copies if originals are not required.

e. Verify Translations: If any documents are not in English, obtain certified translations. Ensure that both the original and translated versions are submitted.

f. Check Validity: Ensure all documents, such as your passport, are valid and not expired. Renew any documents if necessary.

g. Follow Guidelines: Adhere to the UK Home Office guidelines for document specifications, such as size and format of photographs, and ensure all forms are correctly filled out.

h. Consult Your Sponsor: Work closely with your UK employer to obtain the Certificate of Sponsorship and other necessary employment documentation.

i. Use a Secure Method for Submissions: When submitting your application, use secure and trackable mailing services to prevent any loss of documents.

 

Section C: Application Process

 

Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa involves several steps, which may generally resemble the process from your previous application process.

First, you should ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria for switching to a Skilled Worker Visa. This includes having a valid job offer from a licensed sponsor and meeting the necessary skill and salary requirements. Gather all the necessary documentation as detailed in the previous sections, including proof of your job offer, English language proficiency, and maintenance funds.

Next, obtain your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number from your UK employer. Your employer must be an approved sponsor and provide details of your job role and salary in the CoS. This reference number is essential for your visa application.

Go to the official UK Government website for visas and immigration. Select the option to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa from within the UK. If you do not already have an account, create one and log in to start your application.

Fill out the application form with your personal details, including your name, date of birth, and nationality. Provide your current UK visa details and immigration history. Input your CoS reference number and details about your job offer, including the job title, salary, and your employer’s sponsor license number. Answer questions about your English language proficiency and upload proof of your language test results or degree certificate. Provide details about your maintenance funds unless your sponsor is covering these costs. If applicable, upload your criminal record certificate and tuberculosis test results.

Calculate the total application fees, including the visa application fee and the immigration health surcharge. Pay the required fees online using a debit or credit card, and keep the payment confirmation receipt for your records.

You then book an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo). Attend the appointment at the scheduled time and date, bringing your appointment confirmation and all required documents.

After your biometric appointment, submit your application online. Ensure all required documents are uploaded or sent as specified. Print and keep a copy of your completed application form and submission receipt for your records.

The UK Home Office will process your application. Processing times can vary, but it generally takes around eight weeks for a decision. You may be contacted for additional information or documents if needed.

If your application is approved, you will receive a decision letter and either a new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) with your Skilled Worker Visa status, or you will need a UKVI account to access your eVisa which acts as digital proof of your status.

If your application is denied, the decision letter will explain the reasons for the refusal and provide information on your right to appeal or reapply.

 

Section D: Switching Timeline and Processing

 

Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa involves several stages, each with its own processing time.

 

1. Timeline to Switch to the Skilled Worker Visa

 

Collecting all the necessary documentation can vary in duration depending on how quickly you can obtain items such as your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), bank statements, and English language test results. It is essential to ensure that each document meets the specified requirements set by the UK Home Office. For example, bank statements must show sufficient maintenance funds and should be recent, while the English language test results must come from an approved provider and meet the required proficiency levels. Gathering these documents in advance can help prevent delays in your application process.

Filling out the online application form is a straightforward process that typically should not take more than a few hours. However, it is crucial to review your information carefully before submission to avoid any errors or omissions. The form will ask for personal details, current visa status, immigration history, and specifics about your job offer, including your CoS reference number. Taking the time to double-check each section can save you from potential issues that might arise from incorrect or incomplete information.

Booking an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre can take up to a week or more, depending on appointment availability in your area. The actual biometric appointment, where you provide your fingerprints and a photograph, typically takes around 30 minutes. It is advisable to schedule this appointment as soon as possible after submitting your online application to avoid delays. Remember to bring your appointment confirmation and all required documents to the appointment.

After your biometric information is submitted, the Home Office will begin processing your application. Standard processing to switch to the Skilled Worker visa can take up to 8 weeks, but this can be delayed if there are issues with the supporting documents, or if you need to attend an interview or due to your personal circumstances, for example if you have a criminal conviction.

For those looking for a quicker response, priority and super priority services may be available. Under the priority processing service, for an additional fee of £500, applicants can expect a decision in 5 working days. The super priority services costs £1000 per applicant, and aims to provide a decision within 1-2 working days. You will be advised when you make the application if priority or super priority processing are available to you.

Once the Home Office makes a decision on your application, you will receive a decision letter. If your application is denied, the decision letter will explain the reasons for the refusal and provide information on your right to appeal or reapply. It’s important to keep this documentation safe and refer to it for any future immigration needs or renewals.

 

2. Tips for Expediting the Process

 

Follow these tips to avoid delays or issues with visa processing:

 

a. Prepare Early: Start gathering your documents as soon as possible. Some documents, like criminal record certificates or English language test results, can take longer to obtain.

b. Check Requirements Thoroughly: Ensure you understand all the requirements and have all the necessary documentation before starting your application. This reduces the risk of delays caused by missing information.

c. Use Priority Services: If time is critical, opt for the priority or super priority service. These services expedite the processing of your application for an additional fee.

d. Book Biometric Appointment Early: As soon as you submit your online application, book your biometric appointment. Appointments can fill up quickly, so early booking ensures you get a slot that fits your schedule.

e. Double-Check Your Application: Carefully review your application and documents before submission. Errors or omissions can lead to delays or rejections.

f. Keep Digital Copies: Maintain digital copies of all your documents. This allows for quick resubmission if needed and ensures you have backups in case of any issues.

g. Stay Informed: Regularly check your email for any communications from the Home Office. Promptly respond to any requests for additional information or documents.

h. Professional Assistance: Consider using an immigration advisor or solicitor to review your application. Professional guidance can help ensure your application is complete and accurate, reducing the risk of delays.

i. Track Your Application: Use the online tracking system provided by the UK Home Office to monitor the status of your application. This helps you stay informed about any updates or required actions.

j. Plan for Delays: While expediting options are available, always plan for potential delays in your timeline. Avoid making irreversible plans (like resigning from your current job) until you have received your new visa.

 

Section E: Common Challenges for Switching

 

Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa can present several challenges.

One of the most common obstacles applicants face is missing or incorrect documentation. The UK Home Office is strict about documentation requirements, and any discrepancies or omissions can lead to significant delays or even rejections of your application. To avoid these issues, double-check that all documents are complete, up-to-date, and correctly formatted according to the guidelines.

Ensuring your job offer meets the minimum salary requirements can be particularly challenging given the complexity of the rules, the frequency of change and when dealing with salaries for roles with variable pay structures or part-time positions. You will need to obtain clear evidence of your salary from your employer, including bonuses or commissions, if applicable.

Providing valid proof of English language proficiency is another potential hurdle. If your qualifications are not recognised by UK authorities, you may need to take an approved English language test.

Delays from your employer in issuing the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) can significantly hold up the application process. The CoS is a critical document that confirms your job offer and eligibility. It’s important to work closely with your employer to ensure that the CoS is issued promptly and contains all necessary details about your job role and salary.

Securing a timely biometric appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre can sometimes be difficult due to high demand. Booking your appointment as early as possible and being flexible with dates and locations can help mitigate this issue.

Demonstrating sufficient funds for maintenance without errors is another critical requirement. You must provide accurate and up-to-date bank statements or evidence that your sponsor is covering your maintenance costs. Any discrepancies or outdated information can lead to delays or rejection of your application.

Encountering issues with the online application system or uploading documents can be frustrating and time-consuming. Ensure you have a reliable internet connection and follow the application guidelines carefully. If you encounter technical problems, contact the UKVI helpline for assistance.

It will also be important to ensure your current visa does not expire before you switch to the Skilled Worker visa. If your visa lapses, you could be considered an overstayer, which would complicate your application. Keep track of your visa expiry date and submit your application well in advance to avoid any legal issues.

 

2. Expert Advice: How to Avoid Issues or Delays

 

At DavidsonMorris, we have extensive experience in helping individuals applying to switch to the Skilled Worker route. Here, we share some of the application issues we see, with advice from our team of immigration specialists on how to overcome them.

 

a. Incomplete or Incorrect Documentation

Create a comprehensive checklist and double-check all documents before submission. Consider consulting an immigration advisor to review your documents.

DMS Advice: “Thorough preparation and verification of documents can prevent common errors and ensure a smoother application process.”

 

b. Meeting the Salary Threshold

Verify the details of your job offer with your employer. If your salary is close to the threshold, discuss potential adjustments with your employer to meet the requirements.

DMS Advice: “Ensure your job offer letter explicitly states your salary and any additional allowances that contribute to the total package.”

 

c. Proving English Language Proficiency: Take an approved English language test well in advance. If relying on academic qualifications, ensure they are recognised and provide necessary equivalency documents.

DMS Advice: “Book your English test early and keep multiple copies of your results for your records.”

 

d. Obtaining a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS):

Maintain regular communication with your employer’s HR department to expedite the issuance of the CoS.

DMS Advice: “Work closely with your sponsor and provide all necessary information promptly to avoid delays.”

 

e. Biometric Appointment Delays

Schedule your biometric appointment as soon as possible after submitting your application. Check multiple centres for availability.

DMS Advice: “Book early and be flexible with appointment locations to find the earliest available slot.”

 

f. Maintaining Immigration Status

Apply for the Skilled Worker Visa well before your current visa expires. Consider applying for an extension if needed.

DMS Advice: “Plan your application timeline carefully to avoid gaps in your legal stay in the UK.”

 

g. Financial Requirements

Maintain the required funds in your bank account for at least 28 days before applying. Ensure bank statements are clear and accurate.

DMS Advice: “Keep meticulous financial records and ensure your funds meet the maintenance requirement continuously.”

 

h. Technical Issues with Online Application

Use a reliable internet connection and keep backups of all uploaded documents. Contact the UKVI helpline for technical support if needed.

DMS Advice: “Save your progress frequently and check for any technical advisories on the official website.”

 

i. Health and Character Requirements

Schedule any required health tests or obtain necessary certificates as early as possible. Keep records of all health-related documents.

DMS Advice: “Complete health and character checks early in the process to avoid last-minute issues.”

 

Section F: Costs and Fees

 

Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa involves various fees and costs, including:

 

1. Skilled Worker Visa Application Fee

The fee varies depending on the length of stay and whether the job is on the shortage occupation list or Immigration Salary List.

[insert table]

 

2. Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

A mandatory charge for most UK visa applicants, you will need to pay the IHS for each year of leave you are granted. The IHS is set at a main rate of £1,035 per applicant per year, with a discounted rate of £776 per year per student or child applicant.

For example, for a 5-year visa, an applicant would pay an IHS Fee of £5175 (i.e. £1035 per year x 5 years).

 

3. Biometric Information Fee

It costs £19.20 to submit your biometrics at a UKVCAS centre.

 

4. English Language Test:

Authorised test centres charge approximately £150-£200 for an approved test like IELTS or PTE.

 

5. Criminal Record Check:

Required for certain job roles, a criminal record check can cost between £45-£100. The fee varies between countries.

 

6. Tuberculosis Test

If you are from a country where TB testing is mandatory, the test can typically cost in the region of £65-£110.

 

7. Document Translation and Certification

If any of your documents are not in English and require translation and certification, the cost is generally around £50-£100 per document.

 

8. Legal Fees

If you decide to instruct professional legal support with your application, costs can vary between advisers, depending on factors such as the complexity of the case, the timescales involved and the adviser’s qualifications and level of experience.

Read our comprehensive guide to the Skilled Worker visa costs.

 

Section G: After Approval

 

Once your Skilled Worker Visa is approved, there are several important steps you need to take to ensure a smooth transition into your new status.

It will also be important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a Skilled Worker Visa holder, comply with UK immigration laws, and make the most of your time in the UK.

 

1. Next Steps After Your Skilled Worker Visa is Approved

 

You will receive a formal decision letter from the UK Home Office notifying you of your visa approval.

Prior to the introduction of the eVisa, successful applicants were sent their new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to their registered address.

Under the new digital immigration status system, Skilled Worker visa holders can prove their status online through their UKVI account by accessing their eVisa, which details their status as a Skilled Worker visa holder.

Once your approval is confirmed, you should notify your employer. They will need to update their records and carry out a pre-employment Right to Work check based on your new status. Your employer may also provide additional support as you transition into your new role under this visa.

You should also update your personal records with relevant institutions, such as registering your new immigration status with your bank, healthcare provider (NHS), and local council.

 

2. Rights and Responsibilities as a Skilled Worker Visa Holder

 

You must comply with all conditions attached to your visa. This includes working only for your sponsoring employer and not accessing public funds (benefits). Breaching these conditions can lead to your visa being revoked and potential deportation.

If your family members (dependants) are with you in the UK, ensure they also comply with their visa conditions. They can work and study in the UK but must not access public funds.

As a resident in the UK, you must comply with tax regulations. Ensure you register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and understand your tax obligations, including paying income tax and National Insurance contributions.

As a Skilled Worker Visa holder, you have the right to work in the UK for the employer specified in your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). This includes the right to take on additional work under certain conditions, such as working up to 20 hours per week in a job that is either in the same profession and at the same level as your main job or is on the Immigration Salary List.

You are also allowed to pursue educational courses and further training, provided it does not interfere with your primary work responsibilities.

You will have access to the National Health Service (NHS) as you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). You will need to register with a local GP (General Practitioner) to access healthcare services.

Your Skilled Worker Visa can lead to indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after five years of continuous residence in the UK. ILR grants you permanent residence and removes work restrictions. To qualify, you must meet residency requirements, pass the Life in the UK test, and demonstrate continued employment with an eligible sponsor.

 

Section H: Common Myths about Switching Visas

 

There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding the process of switching to a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK. With accurate information, applicants can proceed with their application fully informed and with confidence:

 

Myth 1: You Can Only Apply for a Skilled Worker Visa from Outside the UK

Contrary to popular belief, you can apply to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa from within the UK, provided you meet the eligibility criteria and are not in the UK under certain routes, such as the Standard Visitor Visa. This means if you are already in the UK on a different visa (such as a Student Visa), you can apply to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa without having to leave the country.

 

Myth 2: You Need a Job Offer Before You Can Start the Application

This myth is actually true. To apply for a Skilled Worker Visa, you must have a job offer from a UK employer who holds a valid sponsor licence. The employer must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), which is a mandatory part of your visa application.

 

Myth 3: The Skilled Worker Visa is Only for High-Level Jobs

The Skilled Worker Visa covers a wide range of job roles and is not limited to high-level or senior positions. The visa is available for various occupations across different industries, including healthcare, engineering, IT, education, and more. As long as the job meets the skill and salary thresholds set by the Home Office, it qualifies for a Skilled Worker Visa.

 

Myth 4: The Application Process is Extremely Complicated and Takes a Long Time

While the application process does require careful preparation and attention to detail, it is manageable with proper guidance and resources. The UK government provides clear instructions and resources to help applicants. Processing times can vary, but using priority or super-priority services can expedite the decision-making process significantly.

 

Myth 5: You Can’t Change Employers Once You Have a Skilled Worker Visa

It is possible to change employers while holding a Skilled Worker Visa. However, you must apply to update your visa with the details of your new job and employer. Your new employer must also be a licensed sponsor, and you will need a new Certificate of Sponsorship. You have to follow the proper procedures to ensure your visa remains valid and you are not in breach of your visa conditions.

 

Myth 6: Your Family Members Can’t Join You in the UK

Skilled Worker Visa holders can bring their dependants to the UK, including their spouse or partner and children under 18. Each family member will need to apply for a dependant visa and meet certain requirements, but they are allowed to live, work, and study in the UK.

 

Myth 7: You Need to Have an Extensive Work History to Qualify

While relevant work experience can strengthen your application, it is not always a mandatory requirement. The primary requirements are that your job offer meets the skill level and salary criteria and that you meet the English language proficiency and other eligibility conditions.

 

Myth 8: The Skilled Worker Visa is Permanent

The Skilled Worker Visa is not a permanent visa; it is usually granted for up to five years. However, it can be renewed, and after five years of continuous residence in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), which grants permanent residency.

 

Myth 9: You Can’t Study While on a Skilled Worker Visa

Skilled Worker Visa holders are allowed to study while working in the UK. This can be a great opportunity to pursue additional qualifications or professional development courses that complement your career.

 

Myth 10: The Visa is Automatically Revoked if You Lose Your Job

If you lose your job, you don’t automatically lose your visa. However, you must find a new job with a licensed sponsor and obtain a new Certificate of Sponsorship within 60 days. During this period, you can remain in the UK while searching for a new role.

 

Section I: Need Assistance?

 

As UK immigration experts, we have specific experience in working with applicants switching visa categories, helping to manage the process and reduce the risk of application issues or problems that can affect lawful status. For specialist guidance and support, contact us.

 

Section J: FAQs on Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa

 

What is a Skilled Worker Visa?

The Skilled Worker Visa allows individuals to come to or stay in the UK to work in an eligible job with an approved employer. It replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.

 

Who is eligible to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa

To switch to a Skilled Worker Visa, you must already be in the UK on a valid visa which permits switching, you must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor, and meet the specific skill and salary requirements. Your job must also be on the list of eligible occupations.

 

Can I switch to a Skilled Worker Visa if I am in the UK on a tourist visa?

No, you cannot switch to a Skilled Worker Visa if you are in the UK on a visitor visa, short-term student visa, or any other visa type that explicitly does not allow switching. You must be on a visa that permits switching to a Skilled Worker Visa, such as a Student visa.

 

What documents do I need to switch to a Skilled Worker Visa?

Required documents include a valid passport, a Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer, proof of English language proficiency, evidence of meeting the financial requirement, and any other supporting documents such as your criminal record certificate and tuberculosis test results, if applicable.

 

How long does it take to process a Skilled Worker Visa application?

Standard processing time is usually up to 8 weeks. However, you can use priority services for faster processing. The priority service offers a decision within 5 working days, and the super-priority service provides a decision by the end of the next working day, provided there are no issues with the application.

 

Can my family members join me on a Skilled Worker Visa?

Yes, your spouse or partner and children under 18 can apply as your dependants. They will need to submit their own applications and meet the dependant visa requirements. Once approved, they can live, work, and study in the UK.

 

What are the costs associated with switching to a Skilled Worker Visa?

Costs include the visa application fee (which varies depending on the length of stay and whether the job is on the Immigration Salary List), the Immigration Health Surcharge, biometric information fee, and other potential costs such as English language test fees, criminal record check fees, and translation services.

 

Can I change jobs while on a Skilled Worker Visa?

Yes, you can change jobs, but you must apply to update your visa with your new job details. The new job must meet the same eligibility criteria, and your new employer must be a licensed sponsor. You will need a new Certificate of Sponsorship from your new employer.

 

How long is a Skilled Worker Visa valid?

A Skilled Worker Visa is usually granted for up to five years. You can apply for an extension or apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after five years of continuous residence in the UK.

 

What happens if my visa application is rejected?

If your application is rejected, the Home Office will provide reasons for the refusal. You may have the option to request an administrative review or submit a new application addressing the issues raised. It is advisable to seek professional legal advice in such cases.

 

Do I need to pass an English language test for a Skilled Worker Visa?

Yes, unless you are from an English-speaking country or have a degree taught in English, you will need to prove your English language proficiency through an approved test such as IELTS or PTE.

 

Can I study while holding a Skilled Worker Visa?

Yes, you are allowed to study while on a Skilled Worker Visa. This includes enrolling in courses and pursuing further education, provided it does not interfere with your primary work duties.

 

Is there a minimum salary requirement for a Skilled Worker Visa?

Yes, the job must meet the relevant minimum salary requirement or the ‘going rate’ for the specific job, whichever is higher. There are lower thresholds for certain roles and new entrants to the job market.

 

What should I do if I lose my job while on a Skilled Worker Visa?

If you lose your job, you have 60 days to find a new job with a licensed sponsor and obtain a new Certificate of Sponsorship. You must update your visa with the new job details to remain compliant with visa conditions.

 

How do I apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after holding a Skilled Worker Visa?

After five years of continuous residence in the UK on a Skilled Worker Visa, you can apply for ILR. You must meet residency requirements, pass the Life in the UK test, demonstrate continued employment with an eligible sponsor, and meet other eligibility criteria.

Section K: Glossary of Key Terms for Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa

 

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS): An electronic document issued by a licensed sponsor (employer) containing a unique reference number needed for a Skilled Worker Visa application. It confirms the job offer and provides details about the job and the applicant.

Dependants: Family members (spouse/partner and children under 18) who can apply to join the main visa holder in the UK.

English Language Proficiency: A requirement for visa applicants to demonstrate their ability to speak, read, write, and understand English at a specified level, usually through approved tests like IELTS or PTE.

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS): A fee paid by visa applicants to access the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) during their stay.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR): Permanent residency status granted after a period of continuous residence in the UK, allowing individuals to live and work without time restrictions.

Licensed Sponsor: An employer authorised by the UK Home Office to hire foreign workers under the Skilled Worker Visa route. Employers must hold a sponsor licence to issue Certificates of Sponsorship.

Priority Service: An expedited processing service for visa applications, offering a faster decision (usually within 5 working days) for an additional fee.

Immigration Salary List: A list of job roles identified by the UK government as being in short supply within the UK labour market. Jobs on this list have different (often lower) salary thresholds and more straightforward visa application processes.

Super-Priority Service: An expedited processing service for visa applications, providing a decision by the end of the next working day for an additional fee.

Switching: The process of changing from one visa category to another while remaining in the UK. In this context, it refers to changing from a different visa type to a Skilled Worker Visa.

Tier 2 (General) Visa: The predecessor to the Skilled Worker Visa, which allowed skilled workers to work in the UK with a job offer from a licensed sponsor. This visa category has been replaced by the Skilled Worker Visa.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI): The division of the UK Home Office responsible for managing the country’s visa system, processing applications, and enforcing immigration laws.

Visa Application Fee: The fee paid by an applicant to process their visa application. The amount varies based on the visa type, duration of stay, and whether the job is on the shortage occupation list.

Visa Expiry: The date when a visa holder’s permission to stay in the UK ends. Visa holders must apply for an extension or leave the UK before this date to remain compliant with immigration laws.

Visa Validity: The period during which the visa holder is allowed to stay in the UK, as specified on their visa or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

Work Conditions: Specific requirements and restrictions attached to the visa, such as the type of work permitted, working hours, and the employer’s details. Visa holders must comply with these conditions to maintain their legal status.

 

Section L: Additional Resources

 

UK Government Skilled Worker Visa Overview
https://www.gov.uk/skilled-worker-visa
Provides comprehensive information on the Skilled Worker Visa, including eligibility, application process, and requirements.

 

UK Visa and Immigration Contact Centre
https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk
Official contact point for any queries related to your visa application, including technical issues and documentation requirements.

 

UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS)
https://www.ukvcas.co.uk/home-internal
Information on booking and attending your biometric appointment.

 

List of Approved English Language Tests
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prove-your-english-language-abilities-with-a-secure-english-language-test-selt
Details on recognised English language tests for visa applications.

 

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Guidance for Employers
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sponsorship-certificate
Guidelines for employers on issuing a CoS, including the requirements and processes involved.

 

Immigration Health Surcharge Information
https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application
Information on the immigration health surcharge, including how to pay and who needs to pay it.

 

Financial Requirement Guidance
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/financial-requirement-specification/financial-requirement-guidance-for-immigration-applicants-and-their-sponsors
Detailed guidance on demonstrating sufficient funds for maintenance.

 

Home Office Processing Times
https://www.gov.uk/visa-processing-times
Current processing times for visa applications, including priority and super priority services.

 

Author

Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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