Tier 2 General visa: Now the Skilled Worker visa
While there are still Tier 2 visa routes (such as the minister of religion and sportsperson visa) available, the General category of the former UK work visa has been replaced with the Skilled Worker visa.
Both visas are intended to enable workers in skilled positions to immigrate to the UK. The Skilled Worker visa has lowered the requirements for entry in many areas. Overall, the Skilled Worker visa provides an easier route to working in the UK for those outside of the EU, as all nationalities undergo the same selection process and apply for the same visa.
Mandatory requirements for the Skilled Worker visa
The Skilled Worker visa is points-based, with points being awarded for meeting particular criteria. Prospective workers need to reach a minimum of 70 points, 50 of which are received from three mandatory factors. These factors include:
- A job offer from an approved company
- A job at an appropriate skill level
- Speaking English at the required level
Nationals from a majority English speaking country do not need to prove their knowledge of English, many will obtain 10 “free” points. The rest of the points are “tradeable” and look at factors such as salary, the demand level for the position, and whether the position requires a PhD. These tradeable factors are where the requirements between the old Tier 2 and the Skilled Worker visa start to change.
Skilled Worker visa’s new skill level and its benefits
The Tier 2 visa scheme required that the role was equivalent to a role at RQF level 6, equivalent to Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) levels 7 and 8. This was limited to bachelor’s degrees, and honours degrees, graduate certificates and graduate diplomas. The Skilled Worker visa lowers this requirement to RQF level 3, the equivalent of AQF level 4, a certificate IV. The certificate IV loosely translates to a “range of specialised knowledge and skills in a carried context”. There are sites about the AQF 4 qualification level and the difference between a certificate III, certificate IV and a diploma, if you are uncertain.
The new salary requirements for the Skilled Worker visa
The generic salary requirement has been lowered from £30,000 to £25,600. Applicants will need to earn the going rate for the position, or the minimum salary requirement of £25,600, whichever is higher. If an individual earns less than £25,600, they may still qualify if they can claim tradeable points for their salary, for example by having a PhD or being a new entrant (as defined by the UK Home Office).
Removal of the cooling off period
Previously, if you held a Tier 2 visa and left the UK, you would’ve had to wait 12 months before you were able to apply for another Tier 2 visa to return to the UK. This was known as the “cooling off” period. The Skilled Worker visa is not subject to a cooling off period, and does not place a limit on the amount of times the visa can be extended. After five years, you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Should you not qualify for ILR, or do not wish to apply, you may continue to extend your Skilled Worker visa.
Those who have come to the UK on an Intra-company Transfer (ICT) visa, can now look for work with other companies who can sponsor migrant workers. Similarly, the cooling off period no longer applies and what’s more, the application can be made from within the UK.
Recent graduates can take a similar path to work in the UK. If you are currently on a UK Student visa and have graduated, you can apply for a Graduate visa that will allow you to work at any skill level. The Graduate visa is valid for two years (three years for PhD students). During this time, you can look for work that will allow you to be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa. This pathway isn’t subject to a cooling off period and because they studied at UK institutions, their English proficiency is already proven.
Other benefits to the Skilled Worker visa
Removal of Resident Labour Market Test
UK employers no longer need to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test before employing migrant workers. This means companies no longer need to advertise job posts for 28 days in the UK before being able to accept applications from foreign nationals.
No cap on the number of applications
Unlike the Tier 2 General visa scheme, there is no limit on the number of people who can apply for a Skilled Worker visa from outside of the UK per year.
More work opportunities
The main benefit of the change in the skill level requirement is the access to jobs previously excluded from the Tier 2 visa scheme. The lowering of the skills level allows UK companies to source a range of technical skills from abroad, such as companies dealing exclusively with roles at RQF levels 3-5. The lower salary threshold opens more possibilities of working in the UK, similar to the change in skill level. The skilled worker eligible occupation list includes careers such as woodworkers, sales administrators, metal machining jobs, amongst others. An increase in the candidate pool can lead to both an easier recruitment process and an increased output quality.
Finding visa information is difficult and figuring out which is the best for you is even more challenging. Contact our parent company, Sable International, to get in touch with our team of immigration and visa specialists. We can help you with your specific situation and get you to the UK effortlessly.