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Skilled Worker and ICT visas (for individuals)

Skilled Worker visa (previously Tier 2 General visa) – overview

What is the Skilled Worker visa (previously Tier 2 General Visa)?

The Skilled Worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 General visa. It is for those who wish to come to the UK for the purpose of working in a skilled job they have been offered and sponsored for by a UK based employer.

How is the Skilled Worker visa different from the Tier 2 General visa?

On 1 December 2020, the Skilled Worker visa replaced the Tier 2 General visa. The main changes are:

  • The minimum skill threshold has been lowered from RQF level 6 (degree equivalent) to RQF level 3 (A Level equivalent)
  • The minimum salary threshold  has been reduced from £30,000 to £25,600
  • The Resident Labour Market Test  has been abolished
  • There are ‘defined’ and ‘undefined’ Certificates of Sponsorship
  • The monthly cap on restricted CoS which applies to some Tier 2 applications  has been suspended

Applicants under this route still need to prove that they have the ability to speak English at level B1 level (lower intermediate).

How do I get sponsored for a Skilled Worker visa?

Before you can apply for this visa you need to have a suitable job offer and the employer needs to be a registered sponsor in the UK.

A list of all registered sponsors can be found here.

Do I need a job offer to be eligible for this visa?

Yes. You must have had an offer of employment from a registered sponsor in the UK. This job must meet the minimum skill level and minimum salary (see below).

What do I do if my employer doesn’t have a sponsor licence?

Without a sponsor licence your employer cannot sponsor you for a Skilled Worker visa. You should either look for a new role with a registered sponsor or speak to your employer about applying for a sponsor licence.

Can I bring my family to the UK with me?

Yes, you can bring certain family members known as “dependants” with you. These are your:

  • spouse or partner
  • children under the age of 18
  • children over 18 who are already in the UK as your dependant.

If you are already in the UK with your dependants and you switch to the Skilled Worker visa, they will be able to remain with you. Whether or not they need to apply for new visas will depend on the circumstances and it is recommended that you contact us to discuss this further.

How long can I have a Skilled Worker visa for?

There is no limit on the duration for which you can hold a Skilled Worker visa.  Subject to meeting the eligibility criteria, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years.

Can I extend my Skilled Worker visa?

Yes. The criteria that you will need to meet to extend your visa will depend on whether you have a Skilled Worker visa or a Tier 2 General visa.

You can apply for your visa in the first instance for up to 5 years and can extend this as many times as you like, as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements. If you apply for a shorter visa initially, you can apply to extend this subsequently.

Can I settle/obtain ILR in the UK with a Skilled Worker visa?

Yes, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK once you have held this visa for 5 years and can use time spent on the Tier 2 General visa immediately prior to the Skilled Worker visa towards this 5 years.

There are other eligibility requirements for ILR which you should be mindful of. Please contact us to discuss these to ensure that you do not fall foul of these whilst holding your visa.

Can I change employers on a Skilled Worker visa?

The Skilled Worker visa only allows you to work in your sponsored role for your sponsor/employer. If you wish to change employers, you can do so if you receive a new qualifying job offer and Certificate of Sponsorship from another employer with a sponsor licence. You will then have to make a new visa application.

Can I move to a new role with my current sponsor on a Skilled Worker visa?

Yes however you may need to be issued with a new CoS and make a new visa application.

What is the cooling off period?

Previously, the Tier 2 cooling off period prevented an individual who held a Tier 2 visa from returning to the UK for a period of 12 months after their visa expired, on another Tier 2 visa. Under the new post-Brexit system, the cooling off period has been removed.

My visa has been curtailed what do I do?

If your visa has been curtailed you will receive a letter from UKVI informing you of this and giving you a period of time within which you are required to leave the UK or alternatively, submit a new valid visa application. To ensure that you are taking the correct steps within the correct time frame, we strongly recommend that you contact us to discuss your visa curtailment.

Skilled Worker visa - eligibility

Do we still have to complete the Resident Labour Market Test?

The RLMT was a headache for sponsors and required the role to be advertised in a prescriptive way before you could assign a CoS.  The RLMT has been abolished for the Skilled Worker visa.

What is the minimum salary I have to earn for a Skilled Worker visa?

Each role that can be sponsored for a Skilled Worker visa has a minimum salary set by UKVI.

For the Skilled Worker visa, the starting point is that the minimum salary must be £25,600pa or, if higher, the going rate for the role which is the salary for that role detailed in the Immigration Rules.

For help identifying the minimum salary you need to earn, please contact us.

Does my job need to meet a minimum skill level for a Skilled Worker visa?

Yes, the role that you will be sponsored to do must be at RQF Level 3 or above, which is equivalent to A Level.

What is the Shortage Occupation List?

The Shortage Occupation List is a list of all roles in the UK which UKVI believes there are not enough settled workers to fill. The current shortage occupation list can be found here.

Skilled Worker visa - application process

How do I apply for a Skilled Worker visa?

You will be required to complete an online application form, upload copies of your supporting documents and then book and attend an in-person appointment to give your biometric details (fingerprints and photograph).

How much does it cost to apply for a Skilled Worker visa?

The fee depends on the role you will hold, where you are applying from and the duration of your visa.

You will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for the duration of your visa and pay a fee of £19.20 to enrol your biometric information.

If you are a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia, the fee payable will be slightly lower. Please contact us for further information.

How much is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

This is currently £624 per person, per year of your visa.

Can I claim a refund for the Immigration Health Surcharge?

The IHS refund scheme has been launched for those working in the NHS or social care sector.

Workers applying for the Health and Care visa are exempt from paying the IHS and those who have previously paid it upfront may be able to claim this back every 6 months.

To be eligible for a refund, you must:

  • hold a visa that gives you a generic right to work e.g. Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, PBS Dependant visa, spousal visa, Student visa (with the right to work up to 20 hours per week during term time);
  • have paid the IHS at the time of applying for your visa;
  • have worked continuously for at least 6 months commencing on or after 31 March 2020;
  • have worked for an average of at least 16 hours per week over the full six month period;
  • have worked in an eligible job which means that you must be:
    • providing a service which is related to the delivery of health or social care; and
    • be employed or engaged by either:
      • a recognised health or care provider (e.g. NHS trusts, national NHS bodies); or
      • an employer which is registered with an appropriate health or social care services regulator to provide health or care services (e.g. care homes or independent sector healthcare providers registered with the CQC); or
      • an employer delivering services that directly support health and social care services (e.g. facilities management services within a hospital, as long as this work is undertaken within a health and care setting).

If the main applicant meets the eligibility criteria, they can also apply for a refund for their dependants.

What supporting documents do I need to provide with my application for a Skilled Worker visa?

The supporting documents are specific to each applicant but generally the following documents are likely to apply:

RequirementLikely documentation
IDPassport and current BRP (if you have one)
English languageIELTS pass certificate, GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers (if obtained at school in the UK), University degree and UK NARIC certificate
Maintenance fundsBank statements showing at least £1,270 held for the 28 days before the application unless the sponsor certifies maintenance
Criminal record certificate (for some roles only)Criminal record certificate from any country (excluding the UK) you have lived in cumulatively or continuously for 12 months or more in the last 10 years whilst aged 18 or over
TB testClear TB test if you are from a country requiring a TB test
Do I need to provide translations of my supporting documents for my visa application?

Yes if any of the documents are not in English or Welsh. There are specific guidelines set by UKVI for the provision of translated documents, please contact us to discuss these.

How long will it take for my application to be considered?

If you are applying from outside the UK, your application should be dealt with within 3 weeks.

If you are applying from inside the UK, your application should be dealt with within 8 weeks.

You can, in certain circumstances, pay an additional fee to use a priority or premium service for a faster decision.

Do I need to leave the UK to apply for a Skilled Worker visa?

No – unless you are already in the UK with any of these visas:

  • Visitor; or
  • Short-term student; or
  • Parent of a Child Student; or
  • Seasonal Worker; or
  • Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or
  • Outside the Immigration Rules.

If you fall within the above categories, you must make your visa application from overseas.

Can I switch from a Tier 4 Student visa to a Skilled Worker visa?

Yes, so long as:

  • you have obtained an eligible qualification
  • you have completed your course of study or are due to complete it within 3 months, or
  • you have completed 12 months of a PhD.

Health and Care Worker visa

What is the Health and Care Worker visa?

The Health and Care Worker visa was introduced in August 2020 and is a sub-category of the Skilled Worker visa which applies to global health professionals.

Applicants must meet the Skilled Worker visa (previously the Tier 2 General visa) requirements in that they must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship, meet the appropriate skill and salary level for their role, be able to prove their English language ability, have the minimum personal savings, have a valid TB test (if required) and criminal record certificate.

You must also be sponsored by a qualifying employer in a qualifying role (see below).

What are the benefits of the visa?

The application fee for the Health and Care visa is cheaper than the Skilled Worker visa at £232 for visas for up to 3 years and £464 for more than 3 years.  The fee is discounted further if the role is on the Shortage Occupation List. In addition, applicants do not have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (currently £624 per year). An added benefit is that dependants are also exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Further, the processing times for Health and Care Worker visa applications are faster than for the standard Skilled Worker visa at three weeks as opposed to eight weeks.

Who qualifies?

In order to qualify for the visa, applicants must be taking up a job in an eligible role. Although the name of this visa suggests that care assistants and other care home staff would be eligible, this is not the case and these professions have been explicitly excluded. Instead, the visa is for those health professional roles which the Government assesses as being skilled, such as doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists and paramedics. A full list of the eligible roles are provided here.

In addition to holding an eligible job, applicants must be taking up a job with the NHS, an NHS provider or one of the listed organisations in the guidance. Listed organisations include a Local Authority or Clinical Commissioning Group as well as organisations registered with the Care Quality Commission where the migrant is employed to provide (or to support the provision of) regulated activities as prescribed in Schedule 1 to the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.

How to apply

Applicants will need to apply using the online Skilled Worker visa application form but will need to tick a box to confirm that they are applying for the Health and Care Worker visa.

Sponsors employing migrants under this route will need to explain in the Certificate of Sponsorship how the employee is eligible. For example, where a sponsor provides services commissioned by the NHS, proof of this arrangement should be provided to evidence that the Health and Care Worker visa is applicable.

Intra Company Transfer visa - overview

What is the ICT visa?

The Intra-Company Transfer visa replaced the Tier 2 (Inter-company Transfer) visa on 1 December 2020 and can be used where an overseas employer has offered an individual a role in a UK branch of the organisation.

There are two different types of ICT visa:

  • Intra-company Transfer visa – this is for employees of overseas companies coming to work at a branch office in the UK, and
  • Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa – this is for transfers onto graduate training programmes in the UK for your employer.
How is the Intra-Company Transfer visa different from the Tier 2 ICT visa?

A CoS from a licenced sponsor is still required and the applicant still needs to have worked for the overseas company for a minimum of 12 months before applying for the visa unless they are a high earner with a salary of £73,900pa or more, in which case there is no minimum duration of employment required.  A graduate trainee only needs to have been employed for 3 months.

A key change made is to the cooling-off requirement. Previously, a Tier 2 visa holder was prevented from re-entering the UK on the Intra-Company Transfer route or the Tier 2 General route for 12 months after departing. Under the new rules applicants will be permitted to hold an Intra-Company Transfer visa for up to five years in any six year rolling period or up to nine years in any ten year period for high earners (at or above £73,900pa).

The minimum salary remains unchanged which is £41,500 for long-term staff and £23,000 for graduate trainees.

The expectation is that the ICT visa will be reviewed again in 2021 with further reform to the visa expected towards the end of 2021 or early 2022.

Can I bring my family to the UK with me?

Yes, you can bring certain family members known as “dependants” with you. These are your:

  • spouse or partner
  • children under the age of 18
  • children over 18 who are already in the UK as your dependant.

If you are already in the UK with your dependants and you switch to the ICT visa, they will be able to remain with you. Whether or not they need to apply for new visas will depend on the circumstances and it is recommended that you contact us to discuss this further.

How long can I have an ICT visa for?

This depends on the type of ICT visa you have and your salary:

  • if you have an Intra-Company Transfer visa and earn more than £73,900 per year, you can hold this visa for 9 years in any 10 year period.
  • if you have an Intra-Company Transfer visa but earn less than £73,900 per year, you can hold this visa for 5 years in any 6 year period; and
  • if you have an Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visa, you can hold this visa for 12 months.
Can I settle/obtain ILR in the UK with an ICT visa?

No, the Intra-Company Transfer visa is a temporary visa which does not lead to settlement in the UK. However, if you currently hold or have previously a Tier 2 ICT Long-term staff visa which was granted under the rules in place before 6 April 2010, time spent in the UK under this visa can count towards the minimum period required to apply for ILR.

Intra Company Transfer visa - eligibility

Do I have to be sponsored by a UK company for an ICT visa?

Yes, you need a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK company to be able to apply for this visa. The UK company should be a group company of your current employer overseas.

How long do I have to have worked for my employer for to be transferred to the UK under an ICT visa?

For the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visa, you need to have worked for your overseas employer for at least 3 months.

For the Intra-Company Transfer visa, you need to have worked for your overseas employer for at least 12 months. This 12 month requirement can be avoided if the role that you will take in the UK pays a salary of £73,900 pa or more.

What is the minimum salary I have to earn for an ICT visa?

For the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visa the minimum salary is £23,000pa and for the Intra-Company Transfer visa, it is £41,500pa.

Does my job need to meet a minimum skill level for an ICT visa?

Yes. The role that you will be sponsored to do must be at RQF Level 3 or above (equivalent to A Level).

Do I need to provide evidence of maintenance funds?

Yes. You must be able to provide bank statements showing that you have had at least £1,270 in your bank account for the 28 days immediately before the visa application is submitted. This requirement can be avoided if your sponsor agrees to ‘certify your maintenance’ on the Certificate of Sponsorship.

Do I need to prove my English language ability?

No, the Intra-Company Transfer visa does not require you to evidence your English language ability as part of the application process.

Intra Company Transfer visa - application process

How do I apply for an ICT visa?

You will be required to complete an online application form, upload copies of your supporting documents and then book and attend an in-person appointment to give your biometric details (fingerprints and photograph).

How much does it cost to apply for an ICT visa?

The fee for the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visa is £482.

The fee for the Intra-Company Transfer visa depends on where you are applying from and the duration of your visa:

 Visa for up to 3 yearsVisa for more than 3 years
Switching inside the UK£704£1,408
Applying from outside the UK£610£1,220

You will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for the duration of your visa and pay a fee of £19.20 to enrol your biometric information.

If you are a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia, the fee payable will be slightly lower. Please contact us for further information.

How much is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

This is currently £624 per person, per year of your visa and it is an upfront cost.

What supporting documents do I need to provide with my application?

The supporting documents are specific to each applicant but generally the following documents are likely to apply:

RequirementLikely documentation
IDPassport and current BRP (if you have one)
Evidence of employmentPayslips and bank statements
Maintenance fundsBank statements showing at least £1,270 held for the 28 days before the application unless the sponsor certifies maintenance
Criminal record certificate (for some roles only)Criminal record certificate from any country (excluding the UK) you have lived in cumulatively or continuously for 12 months or more in the last 10 years whilst aged 18 or over
TB testClear TB test if you are from a country requiring a TB test
Do I need to provide translations of my supporting documents for my visa application?

Yes if any of the documents are not in English or Welsh. There are specific guidelines set by UKVI for the provision of translated documents, please contact us to discuss these.

Can I switch from an ICT visa to a Skilled Worker visa?

Yes, under the new post-Brexit system you can switch from an ICT to a Skilled Worker visa which also means that you will subsequently be able to apply for ILR after holding the Skilled Worker visa for 5 years.

To discuss your options for switching visa types, please contact us.

How long will it take for my application to be considered?

If you are applying from outside the UK, your application should be dealt with within 3 weeks.

If you are applying from inside the UK, your application should be dealt with within 8 weeks.

You can, in certain circumstances, pay an additional fee to use a priority or premium service for a faster decision.

Services and pricing

Services and pricing options

We provide a range of services to Skilled Worker and ICT visa applicants including assistance with their initial application and switching to this visa category. This includes:

  • initial correspondence with you regarding eligibility
  • review of and advice to you on the draft completed application form
  • advice to you on the application process and queries
  • advice on which supporting documents to provide with the application
  • assist with questions about the process or correspondence from the Home Office.

Fee estimate*: £1,000 – £1,500

*:  Our fees are calculated based on the number of hours it will take us to carry out this work. The exact number of hours it will take depends on the circumstances in your case, such as:

  • the volume of supporting documents and evidence that we need to consider
  • the quality of the draft supporting documents provided by you, the amount of time required to amend these and the number of amended drafts required
  • whether face to face meetings or video calls with you are required and the volume of calls and queries from you
  • the urgency of your application
  • whether you have an adverse immigration or criminal history
  • the need to obtain documentation from or liaise with third parties such as accountants or translation companies
  • whether you are applying alone or with dependants
  • whether you require advice on your current immigration status.

Fees are excluding VAT at the rate of 20%. VAT may or may not be payable on the above fee estimate as this is dependent on the country in which you reside and you will be advised of this before work on your application commences. Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as visa fees payable to the Home Office and document translation fees. These are not included in the above estimates.

Full details can be found in our comprehensive pricing document, which can be found here, or please contact one of our immigration specialists.

Disclaimer

Given the fast pace of change, we would stress that this information is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

As a hub, we have included references to articles and explainers from third parties. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

Our immigration team

Flora Mewies

Flora Mewies

Partner | Employment

Leeds and Manchester

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Roisin Patton

Roisin Patton

Partner | Employment

Newcastle

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Gillian Burns

Gillian Burns

Associate | Employment

Newcastle

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Natalie Payne

Natalie Payne

Solicitor | Employment

Leeds and Manchester

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