Skilled Worker visa
A Skilled Worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer.
This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.
Some health workers and their families will get their visas extended for free because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you or your family are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein
If you or your close family member started living in the UK before 1 January 2021, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.
Otherwise you need a visa to work in the UK.
Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.
To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you must:
The specific eligibility depends on your job
You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa.
Knowledge of English
You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English. You’ll usually need to prove your knowledge of English when you apply.
If you’re not eligible for a Skilled Worker visa
You may be eligible for another type of visa to work in the UK.
How long you can stay
Your visa can last for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You’ll need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer.
If you want to stay longer in the UK
You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements.
After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’). This gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.
How to apply
You must apply online.
How you apply depends on whether you’re:
If you want to change your job or employer, you must apply to update your visa.
You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible.
How long it takes
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship.
As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents.
You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.
Getting a decision
Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within:
If you need to go to an appointment, you may be able to pay for a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK.
How much it costs
You, your partner or children will each need to:
Check how much money you’ll need.
If you work in public sector healthcare
If you’re a doctor or nurse, or you work in health or adult social care, check if you’re eligible to apply for the Health and Care Worker visa instead. It’s cheaper to apply for and you do not need to pay the annual immigration health surcharge.
What you can and cannot do
With a Skilled Worker visa you can:
If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Skilled Worker visa.5