The Skilled Worker visa is a sponsored visa route that requires a job offer from an employer. The employer will need to hold a Skilled Worker licence and provide an applicant with a 'Certificate of Sponsorship' (CoS).

Skilled worker

To qualify for the Skilled Worker visa, you must:

  • have been offered a job with a UK employer that has Skilled worker sponsor licence
  • have been offered at job at the appropriate skills level, RQF3 upwards
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ (CoS) 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. There are lower salary requirements for students, see below ‘salary requirements’  

You can switch into a Skilled Worker visa from within the UK if you continue to hold a valid Student visa and meet all other eligibility requirements under the Skilled Worker route. You must apply for your visa before your Student visa expires.

  • UG and Masters students must be studying a full-time course of study at degree level or above, with a higher education provider which has a track record of compliance (Imperial), and the start date of the job stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) must be after your official course end date.

  • PhD students who are studying a full-time course of study with a higher education provider which has a track record of compliance (Imperial) may switch into a Skilled Worker visa once they have completed 24 months of their course. 

  • UG / Masters /PhD students can also apply once they have reached their official course end date.

Applicants must be paid the minimum salary for their role.

If you are applying as a ‘new entrant’ you will have a lower annual salary requirement of £ 30,960 and can look under the column 70% of going rate for the relevant role.

Who is a 'new entrant'?

You are considered a new entrant in the following circumstances:

  • you are under the age of 26 on the date of application,
  • your most recent visa was a Student visa, your Student visa is still valid or it expired less than 2 years before the date of application,  and you were sponsored to study a UK bachelor's/master's/PhD or other doctoral qualification/PGCE/PGDE,
  • your most recent visa was a Graduate route visa and it is still valid or it expired less than 2 years before the date of application,
  • the job is a postdoctoral position under specific occupation codes (see Appendix Skilled Worker, SW 12.2 (b)),
  • you are a PhD student and you have completed at least 24 months’ study of your course

If you are applying from overseas, you will be considered a ‘new entrant’ if:

  • your last UK visa was under the Student route issued for degree level or PhD study and you are applying less than 2 years after it expired or
  • your last visa was under the Graduate route, and you are applying less than 2 years after it expired

Your employer is responsible for assessing whether or not you fall under the ‘new entrant’ requirement, so any queries or concerns should be directed to the employer.

It is now much easier to apply for the Skilled Worker visa from overseas. You may still be considered a ‘new entrant’ and meet a lower salary requirement.

Employers no longer needs to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) to offer you a job and there is no restriction on the number of CoS's that an employer may issue. 

We advise that when making job applications you check to make sure that the prospective employer is registered as a Skilled Worker sponsor. When you complete the online application form or submit a covering letter you should make the employer aware of the following:

  • that as they are registered as a Skilled Worker sponsor they can sponsor you for a Skilled Worker visa,
  • mention that the employer does not need to conduct the RLMT and there is no restriction on the number of CoS's issued,
  • that you have a right to work in the UK, restricted to 20 hours per week during term-time, and
  • that under the Student visa rules you can work full time hours on the final 4 months of your visa as this is considered 'vacation time' by the Home Office (refer to the 'Can I work whilst in the UK?' section of the Student Route Policy Guidance)

Whilst you are on a Student visa, there are work restrictions in place. To determine when you are eligible to start working once you have submitted a Skilled Worker visa application, please see below:

  • If your course of study is complete (this will be after you have reached your official course end date), then you can start working in your Skilled Worker job immediately after a valid Skilled Worker visa application is submitted
  • You can submit a visa application within the 3 months before your official course end date if you are studying at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance (Imperial), and your CoS start date is after your course completion date. You can start working in your Skilled Worker job from the start date as mentioned on your CoS.
  • If you are studying a PhD at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance (Imperial), the start date on the CoS is after you have completed 24 months of your course, and you are not within 3 months of your course completion date on your CAS, then you cannot start working in your Skilled Worker job until your Skilled Worker visa has been granted

You may need to obtain Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance as part of a Skilled Worker route application. Details on whether you may require ATAS are outlined in the Workers and Temporary Workers: guidance for sponsors part 2: sponsor a worker - general information, pp.45-47.

There is no study restriction under the Skilled Worker visa so this means you can do any level or mode of study on this visa. You should still confirm with your employer that they are comfortable with you studying at the same time as working. 

You will need written consent if you have been given a scholarship from a Government or International Scholarship Agency and

  • You were fully funded i.e. the money covered your full tuition fees and living costs
  • This funding ended within the 12 months prior to submitting the Skilled Worker visa application

You do not need written permission to apply if one of the following apply:

  • You received part funding i.e. the funding only covered the tuition fees or only the living costs
  • You have been fully funded by a scholarship or bursary from Imperial

Visa application

Skilled worker

Skilled Worker applications are made online.

How you apply depends on whether you are:

  • If you have been living in the UK for the past 12 months there is no requirement to provide evidence of money to support yourself.
  • If you have not been living in the UK for the past 12 months, you are required to show you have held a minimum balance of £1270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days. This bank account must be in your name or a joint account with another person.  If dependants are included in the applications, there must be extra funds of £285 for your partner, £315 for the first dependant child, and £200 for any further dependant.
  • Alternatively  your employer can confirm on the Certificate of Sponsorship that they will cover your living costs during your first month in the UK, up to £1270.
  • Passport
  • Biometric Resident Permit (if your visa was issued in this format)
  • Bank statements (if required)
  • Certificate of Sponsorship (Cos)

Please note that if you have been fully financially sponsored (all tuition fees and living expenses) by a government or international scholarship agency, and this funding ended less than 12 months before your intend to apply for this visa, you will need written permission from that sponsor to say they do not object to you applying for the visa. If you were fully funded by Imperial College then you do not need a letter of consent.