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UK Worker Visas

Are you looking to work in the UK? If you do not have British or Irish citizenship, you will require a visa to live and work in the UK. There a number of visa routes, including the Home Office’s flagship Skilled Worker visa route for those coming to work on a permanent or temporary basis, and several categories of Temporary Work visas.

At Thorntons, we specialise in Immigration Law and can guide you through the options available to you and support you through the visa application process.

ALERT: Major changes to the salary requirements for Skilled Worker visas come into effect on 11 April 2024. Contact our specialist immigration team for advice on how these changes might affect you. Call 03330 430350

Frequently asked questions

Here we answer some frequently asked questions about UK work visas.

The Skilled Worker visa – previously known as the Tier 2 (General) visa - is part of the ‘points-based’ system introduced by the UK government to attract highly skilled workers from around the world.

To be eligible for the Skilled Worker visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Job offer: You must have a valid job offer from a UK employer who holds a sponsor licence.
  • Skill level: The job offer must be for a role which is at a skill level equivalent to RQF level 3 or above – as detailed in the Home Office’s Skilled Occupations list.
  • English language: You must pass an approved English language test at level B1 or above (assessing all four components: listening, speaking, reading and writing) or hold an English-taught academic qualification recognised by the Home Office.
  • Salary requirement: Your job offer must meet the minimum salary threshold of at least £26,200 gross per year or the ‘going rate’ for the occupation, whichever is higher. In certain circumstances, the salary requirement can be lowered.
  • Maintenance funds: You must demonstrate that you can support yourself and any dependants financially during your stay in the UK or your employer must certify your maintenance.

The Temporary Work visa routes – previously known as Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) visa routes – are designed for individuals who wish to come to the UK temporarily to undertake specific types of work or participate in specific activities. There are several categories, including Creative Worker, Charity Worker, Religious Worker, Government Authorised Exchange, International Agreement and Seasonal Worker.

The Temporary Work visa routes require sponsorship by a licensed UK employer. You will be required to meet validity, suitability and additional eligibility requirements for each of these Temporary Work visa routes.

You can find an up-to-date list of sponsors on the UK Government website.

The UK company must be a licensed sponsor to employ you. The sponsor will assign you a Certificate of Sponsorship, which acts as confirmation that you have the skillset, experience and qualifications to be sponsored for the role. The Certificate of Sponsorship is then used to make your visa application.

The earliest you can apply for a Skilled Worker visa or for a Temporary Work visa is three months before the proposed start date of your UK job, as detailed in your certificate of sponsorship.

Applications generally take at least three weeks if you are applying from outside of the UK.  If you are applying from within the UK, applications generally take 8 to 12 weeks.  For an additional fee, you can opt for the Priority or Super Priority Service to receive a decision more quickly. These services mean you will receive a decision within five working days or one working day of your biometric appointment respectively.

You can find up-to-date visa application fees on the UK government website for both the Skilled Worker visa and Temporary Work visa routes.

You can normally extend a Skilled Worker Work visa. After five years on the Skilled Worker visa route, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain subject to meeting the requirements in the Immigration Rules.

You cannot usually extend a Temporary Work visa. However, there are certain exceptions to this, and we can advise you on the relevant extension restrictions and your visa options.

You cannot appeal a refusal to an immigration judge. However, Skilled Work and Temporary Worker refusals can be challenged through ‘Administrative Review’. This involves an internal review of the decision by the Home Office.

You must submit your Administrative Review within 14 days of the refusal if you submitted your application from inside the UK and within 28 days if you submitted your application outside the UK. An Administrative Review can be a lengthy process and, in many cases, a fresh application may be a better option.

Our Immigration Solicitors can advise you on your appeal options and best course of action

How can Thorntons help?

Navigating the UK Work visa application process and the labyrinth of Home Office Guidance and Immigration Rules can be overwhelming. Even a minor mistake can lead to delays, refusals or rejections from the Home Office.

At Thorntons, our team of experienced immigration lawyers understands the intricacies of UK immigration law and can provide you with expert guidance throughout the entire process. We  will provide you with regular updates on the progress of your application and address any queries or concerns you may have to ensure that your immigration needs can be met.

Our services include:

  • Initial Consultation: We offer a fixed fee initial consultation of £350+VAT. We will assess your eligibility for the Skilled Worker and Temporary Work visa routes and discuss your individual circumstances to ensure that you are able to apply for the visa route that is specific to your needs and long-term goals.
  • Full Service: We will help you gather the necessary documents and thoroughly review your supporting evidence to ensure that it meets the requirements. We will complete and submit the application forms on your behalf and provide a legal representations letter to the Home Office explaining how you meet the requirements.
  • Sponsor Licence: If your potential employer does not hold a sponsor licence, we can advise and assist them in obtaining one.

If you are considering the Skilled Worker or Temporary Work visa routes or need expert assistance with any other immigration matter, call us on 03330 430350  to schedule a consultation with us or complete an online enquiry form and we will contact you