If you’ve been studying abroad in the UK and are on the cusp of completing university, chances are, you’re probably feeling giddy at the thought of graduation. When your studies come to an end, however, there’s an important question that you’ll need to contend with: should you stay in the UK or go back home? For some, getting a UK skilled worker visa could be an attractive option.
A UK skilled worker visa allows you to stay in the UK and be gainfully employed with an approved employer. It can also serve as your gateway to getting a permanent residence in the UK if you’re looking to make it your new home.
Here’s a guide on switching to a UK skilled worker visa in 2022:
Am I eligible for the UK skilled worker visa?
You would need to meet certain requirements to be eligible for this visa:
The right job
To qualify for the UK skilled worker visa, you’ll need to:
- Have an approved UK employer that is certified by the Home Office
- Get a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer along with all the information regarding the role you’ve been offered in the UK
- Get a job that is under the list of eligible occupations
Master the English language
You would also need to prove your proficiency in English — this includes proving your ability to read, write and speak the language.
You will not be able to switch to this visa if you have:
- On a visit visa
- On a short-term student visa
- On a Parent of a Child Student visa
- On a seasonal worker visa
- On a domestic worker in a private household visa
- An immigration bail
- Been given permission to stay outside the immigration rules, for example, on compassionate grounds
You would need to leave the UK and apply for a UK Skilled Worker visa from abroad if you fit in any of these categories, notes the government.
How long can I stay?
The UK skilled worker visa can last up to five years before you need to extend or renew it. You can also update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer.
How much will it cost?
If you’re applying from inside the UK and are switching from a student visa to a Skilled Worker, renewing or updating it, the standard fees are:
- Up to three years – £704
- More than three years – £1,408
You will need to pay the healthcare surcharge per annum of your stay — this is usually £624 per year. Check how much you will need to pay using this nifty calculator.
You may also need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and photo) taken.
Prove your financial stability
You would need at least £1,270 in your bank account as proof that you can support yourself in the UK.
You’ll usually need to show proof of this when you apply, unless:
- You’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months
- Your employer has covered your costs during your first month in the UK, up to £1,270
What kind of supporting documents do I need?
To complete your application, you will need proof of your identity. You will need to:
- Give your fingerprints and a photograph (biometric information) at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. This is to get a biometric residence permit; or,
- Use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity documents. You will then sign up or log in to your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account
Don’t worry too much about this step, you will be told what you need to do when you apply.
How can I apply?
What’s left is the application process. Note that you will need to apply before your current visa expires.
Once you’ve started your application, you can save your form and complete it later.
How long will it take to get approved?
The decision will usually take eight weeks from your UK skilled worker visa application date. You’ll be contacted if your application will take longer, due to:
- Your supporting documents need further verification
- You need to attend an interview
- Your personal circumstances — for instance, if you have a criminal conviction
You can opt in to pay for a faster decision — you’ll be told if you can when you apply.