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11 February 2022

The UK’s Skilled Worker visa: 1 year on

It’s been just over one year since the Skilled Worker visa replaced the Tier 2 work visa. Here’s what it changed.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
The UK’s Skilled Worker visa: 1 year on

The Skilled Worker Visa was introduced on 1 December 2020. It forms part of the new points based system adopted by the UK after Brexit. It replaced the Tier 2 (General) Work Visa. This new and improved visa route was aimed at making it easier for migrant workers to apply to work in the UK, as well as making it easier for companies to employ them.

What is the Skilled Worker Visa?

This post focuses on how the Skilled Worker Visa differs from the old Tier 2 (General) Work Visa. We already have a blog post that talks you through what a Skilled Worker Visa is, how you get one, and what they mean for employers. To read it, click here

In principle, the Skilled Worker Visa allows migrant workers to stay in the UK if they have an eligible job with a Home Office-recognised employer. There are several requirements that both the employer and the employee must meet before a Skilled Worker Visa can be used. 

What did the Skilled Worker Visa change?

The Skilled Worker Visa differs significantly from the Tier 2 Visa that was in place previously. Many of the changes were aimed at widening the scope for potential applicants to apply. Some of the most important differences between the Tier 2 Visa and the Skilled Worker Visa are listed below:

  • A wider range of roles are now available for sponsorship
  • The general salary threshold was lowered
  • The Resident Labour Market Test requirement was scrapped, although there must be evidence of a genuine vacancy
  • Certificates of Sponsorship were overhauled
  • The limit on the amount of time the visa allowed you to stay was abolished
  • More flexibility for switching visa routes was introduced 
  • The cap on how many visas could be granted was abolished. 

The Certificates of Sponsorship overhaul

Prior to the introduction of the Skilled Worker Visa, the Tier 2 visa included restricted and unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). The new visa introduced defined and undefined CoS, which are given to applicants who are based inside (undefined) and outside (defined) the UK. These changes mainly matter to employers, rather than employees. However, employees need a CoS before they can apply for the visa. 

Abolition of the time cap

With the Tier 2 Visa, workers had a maximum time that they could stay in the UK under their visa. The Skilled Worker Visa allows the holder to remain in the UK for an unlimited time, as long as the necessary requirements are met. As was the case with the Tier 2 Visa, the Skilled Worker Visa can be used as a route to ILR. To find out more about ILR and how to get it, click here

More flexibility for switching visa routes

With the Tier 2 visa, there were rules concerning applying for a different visa to the one you were already registered with if you were already living in the UK. These rules were relaxed by the Skilled Worker Visa, which made switching visa routes easier. Certain visa holders are now able to switch their visa without having to leave the UK to apply from outside it.

Abolition of Visa Cap

The old Tier 2 Visa limited the number of visas that could be given out to workers in a 1 year period. The Skilled Worker Visa got rid of the cap, which means an unlimited number of Skilled Workers Visa can be granted. This change to the rules, however, is to be kept under review by the UK Government. 

Changes for employers

If you are an employer, it’s very important to take note of what the changes mean for you. All non-UK residents that work in the UK need to have a sponsor. Sponsoring migrant workers is a time consuming and expensive process, and requires you to meet certain requirements.

Ready for assistance?

If you have any questions about the changes or want legal advice, contact
Woodcock Law & Notary Public today. Contact us by phone on 0330 133 6490 or
by email at info@woodcocklaw.co.uk.

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