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Obtaining UK Skilled Worker Visa: Process and Costs

Every year, dozens of foreign workers come to the United Kingdom. A lot of businesspeople from abroad also view the country as a perfect place to set up a company. Why is that?

For entrepreneurs, the UK offers new markets, favourable economic conditions, and a unique experience of growing a business in a highly competitive environment.

Foreign workers are attracted to the UK for several reasons:

  • Flexible policy of the British government that is interested in skilled foreign workers;
  • High salaries and social security;
  • Exchange of experience and development of professional skills;
  • A safe and secure life for an immigrant and their family;
  • Relatively low costs for a long-term visa;
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years of stay in the UK and later, UK citizenship.

Which UK Visa Can Foreign Specialists Apply for?

For foreign entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs who are ready to invest money, expertise, energy, and time in their UK businesses can benefit from the following immigration routes:

  • UK Start-up visa – an immigration route for young entrepreneurs who plan to set up their first company in the UK. All that is required of the applicant for this visa is an endorsed business plan.
  • UK Innovator visa – an immigration route for experienced entrepreneurs with an endorsed business plan and at least £50,000 for investment.

For foreign workers

There are several immigration routes which foreign specialists can use to come to the UK. We will list only the long-term ones.

The Home Office statistics show that in 2022, more than 200,000 foreign specialists with their families relocated to the UK on the following visas:

  1. UK Skilled Worker visa
  2. UK Health and Care Worker visa
  3. UK Scale-up Worker visa
  4. UK Religious Worker visa
  5. UK International Sportsperson visa
  6. UK Global Business Mobility visas that allow intra-company transfers of workers.

For UK Graduates and Talented People

UK Graduates and talented specialists can apply for the following visas that do not require sponsorship:

  • UK Graduate visa is designed for foreign students who have completed a course in a UK university and want to find a job in the UK.
  • UK Global Talent visa will suit professionals whose contribution to their field is internationally recognised and can be confirmed through awards, publications, and citations in the specialised and general press.

Who Is UK Skilled Worker Visa for?

A UK Skilled Worker Visa is for British companies to hire qualified foreign specialists.

The Home Office, however, sets strict requirements both for the visa applicants and their employers. Compliance is ensured through the sponsorship management system.

Sponsorship Licence, Sponsors, and Certificate of Sponsorship

According to immigration rules, only an officially registered British company with a sponsorship licence can employ foreign professionals. Such companies are referred to as sponsors.

A sponsor must meet the following requirements:

  1. Create all the required working conditions for a foreign specialist;
  2. Pay a foreign worker at least the set salary rate for their profession;
  3. Have authorised personnel who is responsible for the sponsorship management system, special software that allows them to issue certificates of sponsorship;
  4. Track foreign specialists’ performance and inform the Home Office about any changes.

A certificate of sponsorship serves as a job offer from a British company. When applying for a UK Skilled Worker visa, the foreign specialist must include the number of their certificate of sponsorship in their application.

Requirements for UK Skilled Worker Visa

To obtain a UK Skilled Worker visa, you must comply with all the Home Office requirements which can be divided into general and specific.

General requirements apply to all UK immigration routes. They say that you must:

  • Be of age – over 18 years old;
  • Be of good health – some applicants are requested to provide a negative tuberculosis test;
  • Have clean immigration and criminal records – you will not get a UK Skilled Worker visa if you have broken immigration rules or committed a criminal offence;
  • Be financially independent – you must have enough money to support yourself until you receive your first salary in the UK.

Specific requirements applying to the UK Skilled Worker visa applicants only:

  1. Your UK sponsor must issue a certificate of sponsorship for you;
  2. The job must be on the shortage occupation list;
  3. You must get at least the set salary rate for the profession;
  4. You must speak English well enough to perform your work duties (you need to prove your level of English by either passing an English test or providing a diploma from a higher educational institution where courses were taught in English).

How to Apply for UK Skilled Worker Visa?

To obtain a UK Skilled Worker visa, you must apply for it within three months after you get your certificate of sponsorship. If you are not in the UK, you will have to submit your application online on the government website.

To avoid visa refusal and get your visa in time, it’s better to contact an immigration advisor from the start. With Imperial & Legal, you will be able to save your time and money.

What Information Is Required from UK Skilled Worker Visa Applicants?

You must submit:

  1. Number of your certificate of sponsorship
  2. Name of your sponsor and number of their sponsorship licence
  3. Valid passport with at least one blank page for the visa
  4. Job title, occupation code, and gross annual salary
  5. Evidence of at least Level B1 of English language proficiency.

The Home Office may request some additional documents:

  • Bank statements or any other evidence that you have enough money to support yourself until you get your first salary in the UK; 
  • Tuberculosis test results (see the requirements);
  • Proof that you and your unmarried partner have been in a genuine relationship (if you plan to bring them to the UK as your dependant);
  • Criminal record certificate if you plan to work in the educational, social service, or healthcare sectors;
  • Valid ATAS certificate for international researchers who intend to study or do research at a postgraduate level.

Who Can Be Added to the UK Skilled Worker Visa Application As Dependant?

The main applicant for a UK Skilled Worker visa can add the following family members as dependants:

  • Spouse or unmarried partner
  • Minor children younger than 18 years old.

Is It Possible to Apply for UK Skilled Worker Visa Remotely?

You will not be able to get a UK Skilled Worker visa 100% remotely. Once you submit your application and pay the application fee, your advisor will make an appointment for you in a visa centre.

You submit your visa application and pay the application fee online. However, you will still need to visit a British visa centre to submit biometrics. There, you can also scan the documents that you plan to attach to your visa application in case you have not uploaded them to the Home Office website yet.

You can visit a British visa centre in any country where you have the right to stay for more than six months. As a rule, you will have to leave your passport at the visa centre. If your application is approved, you will get it back with a UK Skilled Worker visa stamp. Then you have three months to relocate to the UK. Upon entering the country, you collect your residence card and are officially registered as an immigrant.

As has already been mentioned, you can scan documents, and have your fingerprints photo taken in a visa centre. This data will be used to produce your biometric residence card that will serve as:

  1. Your ID in the UK
  2. Permit for a long-term stay in the country.

How Long Does It Take to Get UK Skilled Worker Visa?

Imperial & Legal’s advisors recommend applying for a UK Skilled Worker visa at least six weeks before your planned arrival to the UK. If you are switching to another visa within the UK, it will take about eight weeks to have your application processed.

There is an option to fast-track your application for an additional fee and get your visa two or three weeks earlier. For visa applications inside the UK, the turnaround is one day. 

How Much Does It Cost to Get UK Skilled Worker Visa?

Though a UK Skilled Worker visa is considered a relatively cheap immigration route, you will still need to have enough money to pay an application fee and an immigration health surcharge (IHS).

Besides, you will have to demonstrate that you have at least £1,270 in your bank account to support yourself in the UK until your first salary comes in case your employer does not guarantee your maintenance.

The costs depend on the following parameters:

  1. Period of stay
  2. Place of application
  3. Your qualification.
Place you apply for the visa Application fee for up to three years of stay (per person, £)

Application fee for more than three years of stay (per person, £)

Outside the UK



Inside the UK



Any country (for shortage occupations)



An immigration health surcharge guarantees that you will be able to use the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK free of charge. It amounts to £624 per person per year of stay in the UK. The minimum payment is for six months. It means that if you come to the UK for a year, you will have to pay £624 (£624×1). However, if you need to stay in the country for one year and three months, you will have to pay for a year and a half (£624×1.5).

Other potential costs to remember are professional help, paperwork, tuberculosis test, and travel to a British visa centre. If you add dependants to your application, this amount will increase.

For example, a family of three (a couple with a minor child) will have to pay £5,619 for two years of stay in the UK on a UK Skilled Worker visa (£625*3 + £624*2*3 = £5,619).

Indefinite Leave to Remain and UK Citizenship

A UK Skilled Worker visa is normally valid for as long as your contract with your sponsor is valid for. If you have an unlimited contract, your residence permit will expire in five years. Then you can apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or extend your visa if your sponsor is ready to issue a new certificate of sponsorship for you.

If you have spent five years in the UK on a UK Skilled Worker visa, confirmed your level of English and successfully passed the Life in the UK test, you and your dependants will be able to settle in the UK.

After 12 months of living in the UK as a settled person, you will be able to apply for UK citizenship. A British passport will give you unique travel and business opportunities. And the UK does not require new nationals to revoke their first citizenship.

It is not easy to get a UK Skilled Worker visa, an ILR, or UK citizenship all by yourself. Therefore, it is recommended to seek professional help. Imperial & Legal’s experienced advisors will be happy to assist you.

FAQ about a UK Skilled Worker Visa

How does a caseworker decide whether to approve or refuse my visa application?

The Home Office uses the points-based system to objectively determine whether the applicant is eligible for a UK Skilled Worker visa. To get the visa, you need to score 70 points.

How to gain points? You must meet the following mandatory requirements for which a certain amount of points is granted automatically:

  1. A valid certificate of sponsorship from an accredited sponsor – 20 points;
  2. A job offer at the required skill level – 20 points;
  3. At least B1 level of English according to European classification – 10 points.

Your pay can score you 20 additional points in the following cases:

  1. Pay exceeds:
    • £25,600 per annum
    • £10.75 per hour
    • Level of pay depending on the occupation.
  2. If your job is from the shortage occupation list, pay equals or exceeds:
    • £20,480 per annum
    • £10.75 per hour
    • 80% of the set salary rate.

There are additional requirements for young professionals at the start of their careers, PhD specialists, and healthcare workers.

When can I renew my UK Skilled Worker visa before it expires?

There are three scenarios when you can renew a UK Skilled Worker visa before it expires:

  1. You change jobs and have another sponsor;
  2. Your sponsor loses their sponsorship licence – you need to find another sponsor;
  3. You change jobs within your company.

What is a shortage occupation?

A shortage occupation is an occupation where there is a lack of qualified professionals. The shortage occupation list is published on the government website and is regularly updated.

Since the government wants to fill the gap, foreign specialists from the shortage occupation list pay less to apply. At the same time, UK sponsors can offer such specialists 80% of the set salary rate.

What benefits can I get if I am an EU citizen?

After Brexit, EU citizens can no longer benefit from a preferential regime and need to follow the standard procedure to get a UK Skilled Worker visa.

Irish citizens are the only exception. They can come to the UK and work here without any visa.

The only advantage that EU citizens with biometric passports have is that they do not need to visit a British visa centre to submit biometrics. They are not required to do a tuberculosis test either.

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