• Employment
  • May 02, 2022

What is a Skilled Worker Visa?


If you wish to hire talent from abroad the person you recruit will need to have a Skilled Worker Visa (SWV). The SWV scheme replaced the Tier 2 (General) Visa and normally makes it easier for businesses to hire talent from overseas; for example, there is no longer a requirement to run a Resident Labour Market Test as part of the recruitment process.

Skilled Worker Visa requirements

For a migrant worker to eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa they will need to provide evidence that:

1. Their prospective employer has a valid Sponsor Licence

Any employer that wishes to recruit someone from outside the UK and the Republic of Ireland must have a valid Sponsor Licence.

If you do not have a Sponsor Licence you can apply for one. The process normally takes around eight weeks and includes a Home Office compliance visit to ensure your HR systems can undertake Sponsor Licence duties and responsibilities.

2. The job being offered is eligible for an SWV

Most UK jobs have been allocated a four-digit occupation code. If you do not know the code, you can search for it through the ONS Occupation Coding Tool and pass it on to your employee.

Once you have the code, either yourself or the migrant worker will need to search through the list of eligible jobs to see if the position you are offering is included.

3. They will be paid the minimum salary requirement or above

As an employer, you must pay the minimum salary required for the position if the migrant worker is to successfully secure an SWV. For most positions, you will need to pay a salary of at least £25,600 per year unless the ‘going rate’ for the position you are recruiting for is higher.

Every occupation has its own ‘going rate’, and the government has provided a table so you can check whether the salary you are offering is enough to satisfy the SWV general salary threshold.

In certain circumstances, you can offer a salary below the minimum requirement.

4. The employee meets the English language requirement

The migrant worker must show they can read, write, speak, and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

Citizens from certain countries are exempt from having to prove their knowledge of English.


Free employment contract templates


How long does it take to get a UK Skilled Worker Visa?

If the employee is applying from outside the UK, it will normally take around eight weeks for an SWV to be processed. If they are applying from within the country, the visa is normally granted within three weeks.

Get legal assistance from LawBite

Employing talent from overseas can provide an enormous boost to your team’s skill-set. To find out more about the legal requirements of obtaining a Sponsor Licence and/or Skilled Worker Visa for work in the UK, please contact our team of employment lawyers who will be happy to help you. Just click ‘Get started’ below to book a free 15 minute consultation.


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Additional resources

In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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