The Home Office has listed the eligible jobs for the Skilled Worker route in Table 1 of Appendix Skilled Occupations on the UK government website. You will note that Table 2 separately lists the eligible jobs in the health and education sectors. You will see that eligible jobs are grouped into a wider occupation code, eg Higher education and teaching professionals (2311), which are listed in the first column and the jobs themselves are listed under related job titles, eg university lecturer, in the second column. The minimum skill level of the eligible jobs titles RQF4 (lower than the RQF6 required under the previous Tier 2 route).
The absolute minimum required to qualify for the Skilled Worker route is £25,600 for 'experienced workers' and £20,480 for 'new entrants'. These salaries are called the 'base rate'. However, please note that the required salary is in most cases higher than the 'base rate' because each eligible job has a minimum salary called the 'going rate', which you must also meet. Therefore, in order to qualify for the Skilled Worker route, the salary of your job must be equal to or higher than, both the 'base' and 'going' rates.
It's important to determine if you are a 'new entrant' because this determines the minimum required base rate and going rate salaries you will need to earn. You will qualify as a new entrant if at the date of your Skilled Worker application you have:
- current Student or Tier 4 immigration permission (or your most recent immigration permission was as a Student or Tier 4 and expired less than two years ago; and
- current Student or Tier 4 immigration permission (or you previously had Student or Tier 4 permission) which was granted in order for you to study a UK Bachelor's degree, UK masters degree, UK PGCE or UK PhD; and
- completed the course referred to above or you will complete it in no more than three months, or if studying a PhD you have completed at least 12 months of UK study towards it.
You will also be defined as a 'new entrant' if at the date of your Skilled Worker application you:
- are aged under 26; or
- have a job offer which is a postdoctoral position in specific job codes; or
- have a job in which you will be working towards full registration/chartered status with the relevant professional body.
Returning to our example of the job as a university lecturer and Table 1 of eligible jobs, you can clearly see the relevance of qualifying as a 'new entrant'. If you do not qualify as a 'new entrant' and need to meet the requirements for 'experienced workers', although the 'base rate' is £25,600, the 'going rate' is £40,700 (option A/third column). Therefore, you would need a job offer with a salary of at least £40,700 to qualify for the Skilled Worker route. However, if you do qualify as a 'new entrant' the salary you will require to qualify is £28,940 (option E/6th column). In fact, you will note that the 'new entrant' salary 'going rate' (option E) is 70% of the 'going rate' for an 'experienced worker' (option A).
If you are a new entrant and the going rate for your job is below the new entrant base rate of £20,480, which from Table 1, we see is the case for eg Librarians (2451) at £15,260, please note that the salary you require is the base rate of £20,480 and not the going rate salary in the table. This is because the salary of your job must be equal to or higher than the base rate and the going rate for your job title in order for you to qualify under the Skilled Worker route.
There is a maximum period of four years in which you can be a new entrant under the Skilled Worker route. Importantly, this includes any time (two or three years) you may have spent under the Graduate Route. Therefore, if you apply to switch from the Graduate Route to Skilled Worker, you will only have two years available as a new entrant under the Skilled Worker. In order to obtain further permission under the Skilled Worker route after these two years, you will need to meet the higher experienced worker base and going rates.
If you apply in the UK
If at the date of application, you have lived in the UK for 12 months or more with a valid visa, you will not need to meet the finance requirement i.e. show eg bank statements. If this has not been the case, your employer can certify on your CoS that it will cover your living costs in the UK in the first month of your employment.
If your employer certifies your maintenance, you will meet the finance requirement and you will not need to provide eg bank statements. If your sponsor does not do this, you will need to show that you have held at least £1,270 in your name for at least 28 consecutive days before the date of application.
If you apply outside the UK
Your employer can certify on your CoS that it will cover your living costs in the UK in the first month of employment. If your employer does this you will meet the finance requirement and you will not need to provide eg bank statements.
If your sponsor does not do this, you will need to show that you have held at least £1,270 in your name for at least 28 consecutive days before the date of application.
ATAS requirement: Required for the job in specific occupation codes
Where can you apply: In the UK or overseas
Duration: Depends on length of contract
Conditions: Work restricted to sponsored job
Work is permitted but only in the job for which the CoS was issued, except for some 'supplementary' and 'voluntary' work.
Study is permitted, but as you will work, usually full-time, in the sponsored job, it is unlikely you will be able to study full-time.
How to apply: via the UK government website.
You can either apply in the UK to 'switch' from your Student or Tier 4 visa, which must be valid when you make the application, to the Skilled Worker route or you can apply in your country of residence overseas.
Fees: vary depending on circumstances
The Skilled Worker application fees depend on where you make your application and the duration of your job. They are less if your job is on the 'shortage occupation' list and/or you are a CESC national.
The immigration health surcharge (IHS) is £624 per year of the job.
If you have dependants (a spouse, civil or unmarried partner, children) and they already have Dependant immigration permission, they will be able to apply at the same time as you, when you apply to switch to the Skilled Worker route in the UK. Alternatively, if you make your Skilled Worker application outside of the UK they can apply at the same time as you or if you obtain Skilled Worker permission first they can apply to join you in the UK at a later date.
If you are applying in the UK with your dependant(s) and at the date of application your dependant(s) has lived in the UK for 12 months or more with a valid visa, your dependant(s) will not need to meet the finance requirement i.e. show eg bank statements. If this has not been the case, or your dependant(s) is applying outside of the UK, they will need to meet the finance requirement of having sufficient funds described on the UK government website.
If you do not qualify for the Skilled Worker route, you may qualify for the Graduate or Start-up routes.