Applying for a Skilled Worker visa? Here’s what you should know

skilled worker visa
To qualify for a UK Skilled Worker visa, you'll need at least 70 immigration points. We break down what that means. Source: Justin Tallis /AFP

I’m a university student about to graduate, and I’ve received a job offer from a UK company. However, I’m having trouble understanding the new points-based immigration system that comes with applying for a Skilled Worker visa. Can you offer an explanation?

Dear Student, 

First of all: congratulations! Graduating from university is no easy feat, and you should be proud to have completed this monumental step in your personal journey. 

From here, you can only go onwards and upwards — but of course, this is much easier said than done. Even with a respected university degree on your belt, you’re not always guaranteed a job, much less a work visa after you graduate. 

The good news is that it’s much easier to land a work visa in the UK today compared to a few years ago. There are different types of long-term work visas international applicants are eligible for, including: the Skilled Worker visa, the Health and Care Worker visa, Intra-company visa, Minister of Religion visa (T2) and the International Sportsperson visa. 

As the new Skilled Worker visa covers the widest range of jobs, it’s usually the go-to for international students and other applicants. Here’s what you should know about it.

A Skilled Worker visa is the most preferred form of entry to work in the UK. Source: Adrian Dennis/AFP

What is the Skilled Worker visa?

The new Skilled Worker visa acts as a replacement to the Tier 2 work visa that was formerly needed to gain employment in the UK. Both visas are fairly similar in that they require you to have received a job offer from an approved UK employer. Both also require that your job category falls under the list of eligible occupations for a visa of that type.

Other conditions you need to fulfil to be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa include: 

  • Getting a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer along with all the information regarding the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • Proof of your proficiency in English — this includes proving your ability to read, write and speak the language.

If you’re an international student who’s been offered a job, it’s likely that your employer is aware of the stipulations that come with hiring you already, so it’s safe to say that you’ve already managed to cross that first step off your list. You wouldn’t need to worry about your English language proficiency, either, as you’d have already fulfilled that requirement when you applied to study in the UK. 

Understanding the points-based immigration system

To gain a Skilled Worker visa, though, you will need to have a certain number of points on your belt — but what does this mean, exactly? In basic terms, it’s that you need to show that you have fulfilled a few key criteria, which can be quantified in points, to be awarded a work visa.

You can only qualify for this, however, if you have a job offer from a UK employer. Ajay Sharma, President and Founder of Abhinav Immigration Services Private Limited, explains this best:

“The first look at the point system will indicate a very rosy picture that if you have the required qualification, this IELTS score and a certain work experience, you would be able to go in. … But the points system is structured in a way that it is impossible to get the Skilled Worker visa unless you have a job offer from a UK employer. … [and] the employer needs to have a sponsor licence, which means they need to have a licence which would allow them to hire skilled workers internationally.”

Luckily, you’d have already filled out this criteria, so you wouldn’t need to worry about that. Regardless, you should be made aware of this key condition. 

You need to have 70 points to qualify for a UK work visa. Source: Oli Scarff/AFP

How many points do I need to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa?

All UK work visas require you to have a minimum of 70 points. Here’s a breakdown of the mandatory points you’ll need: 

  • 20 points: A job offer by an approved sponsor
  • 20 points: A job at an appropriate skill level
  • 10 points: Proof that you can speak English at required level

The good news is that if you’ve received a job offer from an approved sponsor, you’re already standing at 50 points. Now, all you need is an extra 20 tradeable points to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa. 

Your salary level counts towards gaining points: 

  • 20,480 British Pounds to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession grants you 0 points
  • £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession grants you 10 points
  • £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession grants you 20 points

Other tradeable characteristics that qualify towards your point total include:

  • 20 points: A job in a shortage occupation as designated by the Migration Advisory Committee
  • 10 points: A PhD qualification in a subject relevant to the job
  • 20 points: A PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job

The UK Government’s official website provides a detailed explanation of this.

There you have it! We hope this cleared up a few grey areas for you, and good luck on your Skilled Worker visa application!