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Skilled Worker Route

The Skilled Worker route has been designed to help UK employers fill a UK vacancy where they have been unable to source a local worker. It is intended for foreign nationals including EU, EEA and Swiss nationals seeking to work in the UK from 1stJanuary 2021.

This route replaces the Tier 2 (General) route. Existing Tier 2 (General) workers can apply for extensions, changes of employment and settlement under the Skilled Worker route.


In order to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be aged 18 or over
  • You must hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the intended role
  • The job offer must be for a genuine vacancy
  • The Home Office approved Sponsor must pay any required Immigration Skills Charge
  • The job must be at an appropriate skill level
  • You must have passed an approved English language test to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0)
  • The salary paid must be equal to, or exceed, both a general salary threshold and the ‘going rate’ for the occupation, whichever is higher
  • You must have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds

In order to be eligible under this route, you must score 50 mandatory points (for your sponsorship, job and English language skills) and 20 tradeable points (for salary and other attributes).

Tradable points allow you to “trade” certain characteristics such as your qualifications, against a lower salary for example.

English Language Requirement (20 Points – Not tradeable)

You need to demonstrate your English language ability to at least level B1 CEFR (intermediate).

The English language requirement will be satisfied if you:

  • Are a national of a majority English-speaking country;
  • Have passed a Secure English Language Test;
  • Have been awarded a degree taught in English;
  • Obtained a GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK;

Salary Requirements (10 or 20 points depending on salary amount – Tradeable)

Sponsors seeking to employ under the Skilled Worker route must pay a salary which equals or exceeds both a general salary threshold (currently £25,600 a year) and the “going rate” for the occupation, whichever is higher.

The “going rate” for the occupation will be set out in the relevant occupation code found on the Home Office website.

Shortage Occupations and Qualifications (10 or 20 points – Tradeable)

Where the salary for a role is lower than the requirements, it may be possible for you to trade characteristics, such as your qualifications, to make up the points required. For example, where the role is on the Shortage Occupation List, or if you hold a PhD level qualification or a STEM PhD.

Genuine Vacancy Requirement

The Home Office will assess whether you are being sponsored to undertake a genuine vacancy and whether you can carry out the role for which the Certificate of Sponsorship has been assigned. Employers may be required to provide additional information or evidence to prove the role meets the above requirements.

The Home Office may consider that a vacancy is not genuine where:

  • The job description has been exaggerated to deliberately meet the requirements of the category when in reality, it does not
  • The job does not exist but has been created to enable you to come to, or stay in, the UK
  • The duties of the role are inappropriate for the job on offer or have been tailored to exclude resident workers from being recruited

The Home Office must be satisfied that you are not being hired by a third party who is not the sponsor, in order to fill a temporary or permanent position or for contract work to undertake an ongoing routine role or to provide an ongoing routine service for any nature of length.

If there are reasonable grounds to believe that the job you are being sponsored to do does not exist, is a sham or has been created mainly so that you can apply for a Skilled Worker Visa, the application will be refused.

Financial Requirements

You will need to demonstrate that you have held minimum cash funds of £1,270 for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the date of your application. An exemption to this requirement will apply if your employer is an “A-rated Sponsor” who certifies that they will, maintain and accommodate you up to the end of the first month of your employment, to an amount of at least £1,270.

If you have been in the UK for 12 months at the date of your application (for example if you are switching into the category) you will not be required to meet this requirement.


If your initial application is successful, you will be granted leave to enter for a maximum of 5 years. If you are granted less than 5 years, you will need to apply to extend or update your visa prior to expiry or if you change jobs or employer. After 5 years in the UK, Skilled Workers can apply for settlement, also known as indefinite leave to remain, if those criteria are met.


To apply for Settlement under this category, you will need to demonstrate the following:

  • You have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK;
  • The 5-year continuous period consisted of time with permission on any of, or any combination of, the following routes: Skilled Worker, Global talent, Innovator, Tier 2 Minister of Religion, Tier 2 Sportsperson, Representative of an Overseas Business or as a Tier 1 Migrant (other than as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant);
  • You have not spent more than 180 days outside of the UK during each year of the 5-year continuous period;
  • You have passed the Life in the UK test (unless aged 65 or over);
  • Your sponsor is still a Home Office approved sponsor;
  • Your sponsor still requires you to work for them for the foreseeable future;
  • You are being, and will be paid for the foreseeable future, at least the general salary threshold or the going rate requirement, whichever is higher.


The exact requirements and documents required for each application will vary depending on your circumstances.

Our experienced lawyers can help you and any dependants to:

  • Make an initial application under the Skilled Worker category
  • Make an extension application
  • Make a settlement application; or
  • Challenge decisions by way of Administrative Review or other appeal processes

We will assist by:

  • obtaining the complete facts of a case
  • collecting relevant documents
  • advising of the best solutions
  • using our expertise to undertake one-to-one interview preparation
  • preparing the application (including completion of forms)
  • preparing covering submissions
  • submitting the application(s) to the relevant authority
  • communicating with the relevant authority until a decision is made
  • advising about rights and entitlements following a decision an application
  • providing follow up support and services


DESCARTES SOLICITORS is recognised as one of the leading multi-practice firms in the UK. Our specialist immigration team will advise, prepare and submit high-quality visa applications for applicants and their dependent family members. Contact our lawyers on 0208 995 3556 or e-mail