- Who needs a Skilled Worker visa?
- What are the main differences between Tier 2 General and Skilled Worker visa routes?
- How does the new points-based immigration system work?
British citizens voted to leave the EU on the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum. After years of negotiations, the UK has finalised the Brexit deal and consequently reconsidered the entire immigration system.
The freedom of movement between the UK and the EU ends on 31 December 2020, meaning that from this point onwards EU citizens in most cases would need to obtain visas to study or work in Britain along other non-EEA nationals.
The new points-based immigration system brought changes into the current visa routes and introduced additional visa types, including the post-study work visa for graduates of UK universities. Applications for visas under the new system start on 1 December 2020 for non-EEA nationals and from 1 January 2021 for EU nationals.
In this blog we will focus on explaining the Skilled Worker visa that replaced the Tier 2 General route. This visa was previously issued for people outside the European Economic Area with a skilled job offer from a licenced employer. From this point forward, the Skilled Worker route will be used by all foreign nationals (with the exception of Hong Kong and Irish citizens) who wish to live and work in the UK.
What's the difference between the Skilled Worker visa and Tier 2 General visa?
Whether you are familiar with the UK immigration system or not, this comparison table will help you understand the main differences between the new and old work visa routes.
|Visa Rules||Tier 2 General visa||Skilled Worker visa||Comments|
|Score 70 points||✓||✓||You need to score 70 points for both visa types. However, the scoring system has changed.|
|Have a job offered by a UK employer holding a valid sponsorship licence||✓||✓||You can find a list of sponsors approved by Home Office here.|
|Have an offer for a skilled job in the UK||✓||✓||Education threshold is reduced from RQF level 6 (Bachelor's degree) to RQF level 3 (A-levels or equivalent). Under the Skilled Worker visa, you should do a job that is on the list of eligible occupations.|
|Have a valid certificate of sponsorship (CoS) from your employer||✓||✓||Under the Skilled Worker visa, your COS should contain information about your job title, occupation code and salary.|
|Your job should pass the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)||✓||✕||This requirement is removed under the new immigration system. This means that employers no longer have to comply with job advertising rules to prove that there were no local qualified job applicants.|
|Foreign workers cap||✓||✕||The number of visas available through the Tier 2 scheme used to be limited to 20,700 a year, unless your job was in shortage. Now the cap is removed.|
|You will need to satisfy the English language requirement at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening||✓||✓||For more information about this, read this blog.|
|Jobs in a shortage occupation in the UK||✓||✓||There is a lack of qualified workers for certain jobs in the UK. If you get a job offer to do one of these jobs, you can qualify for some visa concessions. Under the new Skilled Worker visa, you can get paid 80% of the going rate for your job if your occupation is on this list.|
|You can score points if you have a PhD qualification relevant to the job||✕||✓||This is a new rule introduced under the Skilled Worker route. Depending on your PhD qualification, you can score extra 10 or 20 points to compensate a lower salary.|
|You should be paid an appropriate salary for your job, above the minimum salary threshold||✓||✓||Under the new system, you should be paid at least £25,600 or the going rate for your job type, whichever is higher. However, unlike the Tier 2 General visa requirements, you can still get a Skilled Worker visa if your salary is lower, by satisfying other conditions.|
|Cooling off period||✓||✕||Where a migrant leaves the UK prior to the expiry of his Tier 2 leave, he/she had to wait 12 months before applying for the new visa. This rule has been abolished.|
|Maintenance funds||£945||£1,270||For both visa types, you need to show maintenance funds to support yourself unless you are exempt from the rule. The Skilled Worker visa requires you to hold the money on your account for at least 28 days in a row, and day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for this visa.|
|Pay healthcare surcharge||✓||✓||Immigration healthcare surcharge fee depends on your personal circumstances.|
|Pay the application fee||✓||✓||Application fees depend on the type of application you are making, duration, and your job category's nature.|
How to score points?
You need to score a total of 70 points to apply for a Skilled Worker visa.
To get these points you should satisfy three mandatory conditions worth 50 points, and get 20 points if your salary is at least £25,600 or the going rate for the profession, whichever is higher. If your salary is lower than that, you can get 20 points for satisfying one or a combination of other tradeable requirements.
This table summarises how you can successfully score 70 points.
|Requirement||Points||Mandatory or Tradeable||Comments|
Have a job offer from an approved sponsor
|20||Mandatory||Your employer should have a sponsorship licence to hire foreign employees. You can check companies on the Home Office register here. If you get a job offer from an employer who hasn't got a licence yet, you should discuss if they could get a licence to hire you.|
The job at an appropriate skill level - RQF 3 or above (A-level or equivalent qualification)
|20||Mandatory||The Home Office made a list of jobs eligible for Skilled Worker visa scheme that you can find here in the annex E. The skills threshold is set to RQF level 3, but it does not mean that you must hold a qualification matching this level.When applying for a job, you should check that the SOC code is on the approved list.|
English language equivalent to level B1 or above (read more about the proof of English language here)
|10||Mandatory||Every migrant coming to the UK for work should speak English at the required level. You can read about several ways of demonstrating your English skills here.|
Salary of £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)
|20||Tradeable||You can check the going rate for your profession here, by searching for your SOC code.|
Salary of £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)
|10||Tradeable||You can check the going rate for your profession here, by searching for your SOC code.|
Salary of £20,480 to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)
|0||Tradeable||You can check the going rate for your profession here, by searching for your SOC code.|
You hold a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job
|20||Tradeable||If you hold a PhD in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics subject, you might qualify for 20 points. Remember to check if your job's SOC code is on Apendix B for jobs that qualify for PhD points.|
You hold a PhD relevant to the job
|10||Tradeable||You can get 10 points if you hold a PhD in a different subject that is relevant to the job. Remember to check if your job's SOC code is on Apendix B for jobs that qualify for PhD points.|
The job is in a shortage occupation as designated by the Migration Advisory Committee
|20||Tradeable||If your job is on a shortage occupation list, you can be paid 80% of the going rate for your occupation. Here is a list of 20 most popular SOL jobs in 2020.|
You are a new entrant to the labour market (read this blog to find out more)
|20||Tradeable||If you are a young person under the age of 26 or just starting out in your career, you can get 20 points.|
Use technology to check job suitability for Skilled Worker visa
We covered essential information about the new Skilled Worker visa and the way of getting 70 points.
There are mixed opinions on the new immigration system, for instance, you can read what a London immigration lawyer thinks about it.
Our comparison table showed that overall, the immigration rules are less rigorous now. For instance, employers no longer have to comply with the RLMT, there is no more cap on the number of migrants and the cooling-off period is cancelled.
However, the new immigration system introduced many nuances. You now have to check employer's sponsorship licence, job SOC code, salary rate, suitability for PhD points and many other rules.
But don't worry, you don't have to memorise every rule.
UKHired will soon be releasing a points-based calculator that gives you job-specific visa information for every job ad on our website.
So, whether you are from or outside of the EU, now you know what you need to get a job in the UK.