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How To Move To The UK On A Skilled Worker Visa

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Moving to a new country is an exciting prospect. Regarding a move to the UK, there are a ton of different visa types, with each of them requiring their own separate processes. Because of the wealth of options, navigating through them to find the one most applicable for you can be an overwhelming task, so before you pack your bags you need to be clear on the different types of permits and visas to pick the right one for you.

Types of visas available to allow you entry into the UK include; self-employed visas, exceptional talent visas, sportsperson visas, and many more besides. If you have an offer of employment from a UK organization or a transfer opportunity with your existing employer to relocate to the UK then you are entitled to a Tier 2 skilled worker visa.

The Tier 2 General work visa is the only long-term option for those seeking employment and settlement in the UK. With an ever-growing list of applicants, the Uk government has introduced a points system to sort workers into those best suited for current openings in the UK job market. Before going through that process, however, you’ll need to get hold of a work permit.

Photo by David Dibert on Unsplash

A Work Permit Summary

Assuming that you do not fit into any of the categories that are exempt from needing a UK work permit, you should seek one out as early as possible, as it can take up to three months from application to approval. As there are too many variables to fit into this article regarding different levels for dependents (spouses, children, other family members, etc.) you should contact a visa specialist team. They can also help to get your documentation in order.

Categories that are exempt from work permit applications:

  • EEA citizens.
  • Spouses and partners of EEA nationals with two years of cohabitation.
  • Spouses of holders of works permits and valid visas.
  • Asylum seekers pending application.
  • Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the UK.

You will be unable to enter the country if you do not have your work permit. Therefore, it is essential to make this a priority before the rest of your relocation can get going. It’s important to know that a UK employer has to submit this for you, and it will qualify you to work in one location and do one job. If/when you want to move on you’ll need a new permit from your new employer and so on until you gain permanent residency (if that is what your goal is).

Common Types Of UK Visa

For the application process for the visa itself the UK system is divided into a tier system that is ranked on your level of situation or type of employment. To boil it down, Tier 1 corresponds to business visas (Entrepreneurs, investors, and other business interests with the inclusion of an exceptional talent visa), Tier 2 represents the most accessible and mid-to-long-term work visas, and Tier 5 is exclusively short-term work visas.

Tier 2 contains the General working visa, which is where the skilled worker sits along with a couple of other categories we have discussed already. This is the tier where the points-based work visa comes in. Understandably this can be quite worrying for some people (having to compete with so many other applicants is a daunting task in itself!) but don’t worry too much, as the points system appears to be quite fair, all things considered.

Photo by Coen van den Broek on Unsplash

How Do UK Points-Based Work Visas Work?

I want to outline the process of the UK points-based work visa as simply and accurately as possible. Moving to a new country is a massive step and the number of forms, documents, and effort needed to make your dream move a reality can seem overwhelming at times! Beginning in January 2020 the UK government outlined a plan to scrap free movement (within the EU) for a points system that will cater for the most desirable and skilled workers to make it easier for them to be approved for visas.

From 1 January 2021 free movement will end and the points-based aspect of travel will be introduced. The general salary threshold is to be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600, but migrants will be able to ‘trade’ certain skills with potentially lower salary requirements to make up the points needed for a successful application, with the skills threshold also being lowered.

The characteristics needed for a skilled worker application are:

  • Offer of job by approved sponsor (20);
  • Job at appropriate skill level (20);
  • Speaks English at required level (10);
  • Salary of £20,480 – £23,039 (0);
  • Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 (10);
  • Salary of £25,600+ (20)
  • Job in a shortage occupation (MAC designated) (20);
  • PhD in relevant subject to job (10);
  • PhD in a STEM subject relevant to job (20).

The total number of points available for each characteristic is in brackets after each characteristic. You will need 70 points across all of these categories in order to qualify for a skilled worker visa. Most of these skills are tradable, but the first three on this list are not and must be fulfilled in order for your application to be considered.

What Documents Will I Need?

To submit your application you only need a few documents that are all relatively simple to find. An employer sponsorship reference (provided by your prospective employer), valid passport or ID, bank statement, and proof of English language capabilities are all you need, though you may also be asked to provide proof of a clean criminal record and your current health status depending on your country of origin.

Is your head exploding yet? It shouldn’t be! The process of application for a UK skilled worker visa is fairly straightforward. Of course, there are many types of visas beyond the standard Tier 2 General, and they each come with different costs and requirements. If you do need any assistance on other visas or further information on skilled workers you can find everything the UK government offers at gov.uk.