The Skilled Worker Visa is the main visa route for foreign workers to live and work in the United Kingdom under the new immigration system.
This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.

The Skilled Worker visa is the main visa route for skilled migrant workers to live and work in the United Kingdom under the Points Based System. Currently, this visa includes all migrant workers regardless of their home country. 

You can apply for this visa if you have been offered a skilled job in the UK.

The Skilled Worker visa is the main visa route for skilled migrant workers to live and work in the United Kingdom under the Points Based System. Currently, this visa includes all migrant workers regardless of their home country. 

You can apply for this visa if you have been offered a skilled job in the UK.



The first stage of the application process is undertaken by your employer, who will apply to the Home Office for a Sponsorship Licence.


The next stage is undertaken by the visa applicant, applying for the Skilled Worker Visa. You will apply using your unique Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) number and provide evidence that you meet the eligibility requirements.


To be eligible to apply for this visa, applicants must be issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship by their UK employer, who must hold a valid Tier 2 Sponsor Licence

You can apply for this visa if you have been offered a skilled job in the UK, or if your job is on the Shortage Occupations List (SOL).  Please note that you must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa.


You will need the following before you can apply:

  • A job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor. It must be a genuine position, and your employer must check that you qualify for this visa and have the relevant experience. They will assign you a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to prove this. 
  • English language requirement. You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English.  
  • Skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A Level) 
  • Salary of at least £25,600 or the going rate (whichever is higher).


  • Work for your sponsor in the job described in your CoS.
  • Work in a second job in certain circumstances.
  • Take on voluntary work.
  • Study if it does not interfere with the job you are sponsored for.
  • Travel abroad and return to the UK.
  • Bring family members with you as dependants.
  • Apply to settle permanently in the UK


  • You cannot leave employment with your sponsor unless you wish to apply in-country to switch to a different employer that also holds a Sponsor Licence.
  • You cannot own more than 10% of your sponsor’s shares (unless you earn more than £159,600 a year).
  • You cannot be in receipt of public funds.
  • You cannot apply for a second job until you have started working for your sponsor.


The earliest you can apply for a visa is three months before you are due to start work in the UK. The date you can start is listed on your Certificate of Sponsorship.

You should normally receive a decision on your visa within three weeks when you apply from outside the UK. Due to COVID-19, priority services are not available for applications from outside the UK.

If you are applying for an extension or switching your visa from within the UK, decisions are made within eight weeks of your application date if you use the standard service. The decision will be made within five working days of your UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) appointment if you use the priority service.


Your Certificate of Sponsorship will hold your personal details and information about the job you have been offered, including the salary and the start and end date of the employment. 

Your employer will give you a CoS reference number that must be included with your application. This CoS is time-sensitive and must be used within three months of assignment.  

How long is a Skilled Worker Visa valid for?

Your visa can last for up to five years before you need to extend it. You will need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer.

How do I settle in the UK?

After five years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK . 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.

What happens at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) appointment?

Usually, these appointments are to prove your identity and provide supporting documents.

You will either:

  • Give your fingerprints and a photograph (biometric information) at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point 
  • Use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document

How much does it cost?

You, your partner or children will each need to:

  • pay the application fee (£610 to £1,408) 
  • pay the healthcare surcharge for each year of your stay (£624 pp)
  • prove you have enough personal savings (at least £1,270 available)
  • Biometrics (£19.20)
  • Biometric appointment fee (upto £260) (takes 4-5 weeks) 
  • Optional expedited services (£500-£800) (within 5 working days)

Please note that the fee varies with time period of extension and for family members and that the whole cost is paid upfront

Who can apply for the Health and Care Worker visa?

Health and Care Worker Visa enables medical professionals to come and work and live in the UK in an eligible job with the NHS or NHS-related bodies. 

If you’re a doctor or nurse, or you work in health or adult social care, a cheaper option is to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa instead. 

Refer to our  blog on the latest updates to the Skilled Worker visa for more information. 


Skilled Worker Visa

Sponsor licences will not be required for Irish citizens, those who are under the EU Settlement scheme with settled or pre-settled status or those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

If you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein you can apply. 

If you or your family member started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.

Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.

An occupation code is a four digit number located in the occupation coding tool that provides a description of your job role. You must ensure that the description matches your occupation role.

You must provide:

  • Your certificate of sponsorship reference number
  •  Proof of your knowledge of English
  • A valid document that shows your identity and nationality
  • Job title and annual salary
  • Job’s occupation code
  • Details of your employer such as their sponsor licence number

You may take on additional paid work/ unpaid voluntary work as long as 

  • you are still doing the job you’re being sponsored for
  • You are working only  up to 20 hours a week in your additional job
  • Your additional job is in the same occupation code and at the same level as your main job or in a shortage occupation list. 


There are many requirements to be met to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration. The Immigration Rules contain strict requirements in terms of the evidentiary documents that must be provided.

Woodcock Law is well placed and highly experienced in providing advice and assistance on making a Skilled Worker visa application. We appreciate that many of the requirements may seem overly complex and onerous, but we can assist you in your application. 

We recommend getting in contact with us on 020 7712 1590 for our expert advice on such an application before any action is taken.

The information contained on this page is sourced from UK Visas and Immigration and is subject to change. While Woodcock Law Limited makes every effort to keep this information current, prices and information cannot be guaranteed and should always be checked on


Woodcock Law & Notary Public is the combined trading name of Woodcock Law Limited (Co. No: 12080697) and Woodcock Notary Public Limited (Co. No: 12085976). Woodcock Law Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (registration number 664924). Woodcock Notary Public Limited is regulated through the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury for work undertaken by Mr Nathan Woodcock as a Notary Public. Woodcock Law Limited is a member of Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association. (Membership Number: 7980).

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