Skilled Worker visa

"Live & Work In The UK"

The Skilled Worker visa is a type of UK work visa designed for skilled individuals from around the world who wish to work in the United Kingdom. To be eligible for this visa, applicants typically need a confirmed job offer from a UK employer, and the job must meet specific skill and salary requirements. The Skilled Worker visa replaces the previous Tier 2 (General) visa and is part of the UK's new points-based immigration system. Successful applicants can work, live, and potentially settle in the UK, provided they meet the visa conditions. The Skilled Worker visa is an essential route for employers to hire overseas talent, contributing to the UK's workforce and economy. 

Essential Insights into the Skilled Worker Visa


A Skilled Worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. 
This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. It also allows you to work in UK waters.


Your job

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you must:
  • work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • be paid a minimum salary - how much depends on the type of work you do
The specific eligibility depends on your job. You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa.

Knowledge of English

You must be able to speak, read, write, and understand English. You’ll usually need to prove your knowledge of English when you apply.

If you’re not eligible for a Skilled Worker visa

You may be eligible for another type of visa to work in the UK.

How long you can stay

Your visa can last for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You’ll need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employers.

If you want to stay longer in the UK

You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements. After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’). This gives you the right to live, work, and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

How to apply

You must apply online. How you apply depends on whether you’re:
  • outside the UK and are coming to the UK
  • inside the UK and extending your current visa
  • inside the UK and switching from a different visa
If you want to change your job or employer, you must apply to update your visa. Your partner and children can apply to join you or stay in the UK as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible.

How long it takes

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship. As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents. You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.

Getting a decision

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity, and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within:
  • 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK
  • 8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK
You may be able to pay to get a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK.

How much it costs

You, your partner or your children will each need to:
  • pay the application fee
  • pay the healthcare surcharge for each year of your stay
  • prove you have enough personal savings

When you apply for a Skilled Worker visa, you’ll need to have enough money to:
  • pay the application fee - the standard fee ranges from £719 to £1,500 depending on your circumstances
  • pay the healthcare surcharge - this is usually £624 per year
  • support yourself when you arrive in the UK - you’ll usually need to have at least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt)
You’ll pay a lower application fee if your job is on the shortage occupation list. You’ll be told how much you need to pay when you apply. For example, you’re applying to come to the UK from Argentina for 2 years on a Skilled Worker visa. Your job is not in a shortage occupation so your visa will cost £719, plus £624 for each year of your stay for the healthcare surcharge. This means you’ll pay a total of £1,967 when you apply for your visa. You’ll also need to prove you have £1,270 available to support yourself in the UK if your employer cannot cover these costs.

Application fees

If you’re applying from outside the UK, the standard fee depends on whether you’ll be in the UK for:
  • up to 3 years - £719 per person
  • more than 3 years - £1,420 per person
If you’re applying from inside the UK to extend, switch, or update your visa, the standard fee depends on whether you’ll be in the UK for:
  • up to 3 years - £827 per person
  • more than 3 years - £1,500 per person
If your job is on the shortage occupation list

You and your family will pay a lower application fee if your job is on the shortage occupation list. The fee for each person applying is:
  • £551 if you’re staying for up to 3 years
  • £1,084 if you’re staying for more than 3 years
The fee is the same whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK. There’s a different list of shortage occupations if you work in healthcare or education.

Healthcare surcharge

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge for each year of your stay - this is usually £624 per year. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

Money to support yourself

You must have at least £1,270 in your bank account to show you can support yourself in the UK. You will need to have had the money available for at least 28 days in a row. Day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for this visa. You’ll usually need to show proof of this when you apply, unless either:
  • you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months
  • your employer can cover your costs during your first month in the UK, up to £1,270
Your partner and children will also need to prove they can support themselves while they’re in the UK. Check how much they’ll need. Read the guidance on financial evidence for more information about the money you need and how to prove it.

If your employer can support you instead

Your certificate of sponsorship must confirm this. Your employer will need to complete the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section on your certificate. This is under ‘Additional data’.
If you work in public sector healthcare

If you’re a doctor or nurse, or you work in health or adult social care, check if you’re eligible to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa instead. It’s cheaper to apply for and you do not need to pay the annual immigration health surcharge.

What you can and cannot do

With a Skilled Worker visa, you can:
  • work in an eligible job
  • study
  • bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible
  • take on additional work in certain circumstances
  • do voluntary work
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years and meet the other eligibility requirements
You cannot:
  • apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
  • change jobs or employers unless you apply to update your visa
If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Skilled Worker visa.

Documents you'll need to apply

When you apply you’ll need to provide:
  • your certificate of sponsorship reference number - your employer will give you this
  • proof of your knowledge of English
  • a valid passport or other document that shows your identity and nationality
  • your job title and annual salary
  • your job’s occupation code
  • the name of your employer and their sponsor license number - this will be on your certificate of sponsorship
Ask your employer for a copy of your certificate of sponsorship if you do not have one.

Other documents you might need

Depending on your circumstances, you might be asked to provide:
  • evidence that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK, for example, bank statements (unless your certificate of sponsorship shows your employer can support you)
  • proof of your relationship with your partner or children if they’re applying with you
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country
  • a criminal record certificate - if you’re working in certain jobs
  • a valid ATAS certificate if your employer tells you that you need one because your job involves researching a sensitive subject at PhD level or higher
  • your UK PhD certificate, or your unique Ecctis reference number (formerly unique UK NARIC reference number) if your qualification is from outside the UK - you’ll need to apply through Ecctis
You’ll need a blank page in your passport for your visa if you’re:
  • from outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
  • from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein but do not have a biometric passport with a chip in it
If your documents are not in English or Welsh you’ll also need to provide a certified translation.

Criminal record certificate

You’ll need to provide a criminal record certificate if you’re applying from outside the UK and you work in:
  • education, for example, teachers, education advisers and school inspectors, childminders, teaching assistants
  • healthcare, for example, nurses, doctors, paramedics, managers, pharmacists, dentists, dental nurses, ophthalmic opticians
  • therapy, for example, psychologists, speech and language therapists, and counselors
  • social services, for example, social workers, managers, probation officers, welfare and housing officers
Check how to apply for criminal records checks. If you work in healthcare, you might be able to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa instead.

If you’ve lived in more than one country

You might need to provide a certificate from each country you’ve lived in, depending on your age and how long you stayed in each country. If you’re under 28, you’ll need a certificate from any country you’ve stayed in for a total of 12 months or more since you turned 18. If you’re 28 or over, you’ll need a certificate from any country you’ve stayed in over the last 10 years.

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