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The UK’s New ‘Skilled Worker’ Visa

Written by Isabelle Cooper

Published 22/02/2021


EU Citizens freedom of movement in the UK has been stopped since the UK left the European Union (January 2021). In its wake, the UK has adopted an ‘Australian style’ points-based system. This article concerns the new ‘Skilled Worker’ route which replaces the Tier 2 (General) route. This visa allows employers to sponsor visas for international staff members so they can live and work in the UK[1].

Note: EU citizens living in the UK before 1st January 2021 may be eligible to apply for the free ‘EU Settlement Scheme’ (instead of applying for a visa through this new system[2]).

What is the new ‘Skilled Worker’ route?

This visa scheme enables EU citizens to legally live and work in the UK for up to five years before needing to renew their visa. After these fiveyears, some applicants may be eligible to apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’, which allows people to permanently settle, live, work, and apply for benefits[3].

To be eligible you must[4]:

  • Work for or have a job offer from a UK employer that has been approved by the Home Office and is on the eligible occupations list
  • Have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer
  • Receive a minimum salary (varies according to type of work)
  • Hold a criminal record certification
  • Finally, speak English to B1 level (at least)

Additionally, applicants must achieve 70 points:

  • Not tradeable
    • 20 points: job offer by approved sponsor
    • 20 points: job at appropriate skill level
    • 10 points: able to speak English to B1 level
  • Tradeable
    • 20 points: salary of £25,600 or above
    • 10 points: salary between £23,040 – £25,599
    • 20 points: job in shortage occupation
    • 10 points: holds non-STEM PhD relevant to job
    • 20 points: holds STEM PhD relevant to job
  • Note: Healthcare and education workers may have some fees and points waivered and their visa’s fast-tracked. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/skilled-worker-visa/if-you-work-in-healthcare-or-education
  • Note: 50 mandatory points and 20 tradeable points

How much does is cost?

How do I apply?

There are different online application processes for those outside or inside the UK (extension or visa switch). For more details visit www.gov.uk/skilled-worker-visa

Changes from the Tier 2 (General) Visa and the ‘Skilled Worker’ Route:

  • Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) (job advertised for at least 28 days) has been scrapped[5], but there still needs to be a genuine vacancy
  • No cap for the number of Skilled Worker visas and Certificates of Sponsorship
  • Minimum skill level required has been reduced from RQF6 (degree level) to RQF3 (A level)
  • Minimum salary required reduced from £30,000 to £25,600
    • Introduction of tradeable points means this can reach as low as £20,480


The ‘Leave’ Campaign promised to ‘Take back control’ of borders and immigration. The new ‘points-based system’ aims to do just this. It is designed to create a ‘high wage, high skill, high productivity economy’[6] and reduce overall levels of migration.

Nonetheless, this new scheme hardly speeds up or eases the process for ‘skilled workers’. This begs the question; will employers be more deterred from hiring ‘high wage and high skilled’ European employees? . If the government were so intent on their vision, then surely the process would be made easier and cheaper for even the most ‘desirable’ migrants?

[1] Sussex University, 2021, The new Points-Based System and hiring EU nationals, Sussex University, viewed 17/02/2021, http://www.sussex.ac.uk/humanresources/business-services/visa/new-points-based-system

[2] Gov.uk, 2021, Skilled Worker visa, Gov.uk, viewed 18/02/2021, https://www.gov.uk/skilled-worker-visa#:~:text=A%20Skilled%20Worker%20visa%20allows,coronavirus%20(COVID%2D19).

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Birketts, 2020, New Points Based Immigration System – Skilled Workers, Birketts, viewed 18/02/2021, https://www.birketts.co.uk/insights/legal-updates/points-based-immigration-system-skilled-workers

[6] Gov.uk, 2021, Policy paper: The UK’s points-based immigration system: policy statement, Gov.uk, viewed 18/02/2021, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-policy-statement/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-policy-statement

March 1,2021 at 7:39 am


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