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).
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’
Applying in the UK
You can switch into a Skilled Worker visa from within the UK if you continue to hold a valid Tier 4/Student visa and meet all other eligibility requirements under the Skilled Worker route. You must apply for your visa before your Student or Tier 4 visa expires.
When to apply
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.
Applicants must be paid the minimum salary for their role. If you are a ‘new entrant’ you will have a lower salary requirement and can look under the column 70% of going rate:
You are considered a new entrant in the following circumstances:
- You are aged under 26 on the day you apply
- You have a Tier 4/Student visa for degree level study and you have completed your course
- 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 Tier 4/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
If you have visited the UK since your Tier 4/Student visa expired, you are still considered a ‘new entrant’.
Applying outside the UK
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 Tier 4/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)
When can I start working full-time?
Your Student visa conditions prevent you from being able to work in the UK on a permanent contract. Whether this restriction will continue to apply to you whilst you have a pending Skilled Worker visa application will depend on when you applied for your current Student visa. In all cases you can only start working full-time once your official course end date has passed.
If you applied for your Student visa before 6 April 2022: You can start work on a full-time basis, however, on a temporary contract until your Skilled Worker visa is granted.
If you applied for your Student visa after 6 April 2022: You can start working as soon as you apply for your Skilled Worker visa (as long as you have completed your course) and this can be on a full-time permanent basis.
- 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.
- 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.