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Frequently asked questions about changes to Skilled Worker Visas

Frequently asked questions about changes to Skilled Worker visas

As part of the Government’s 5-point Plan to Curb Net Migration big changes have been introduced for the salary requirement for Skilled Worker visas. While the basic structure to the Rules remains the same, we have answered some common questions employers and employees have about the new requirements. 

Salary thresholds 

Question: Can you explain the difference between the going rate and the general salary and lower general salary and when to consider them

Answer: A skilled worker must meet either the general salary requirement or the ‘going rate’ for their role, whichever is higher. The ‘going rate’ is the occupation specific salary requirement and this is based on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE).  

For skilled workers who qualify for the transitional provisions the general salary requirement is now £29,000 or the ‘going rate’ of the 25th percentile for the occupation code, whichever is higher. 

For new applicants, sponsored after 4 April 2024 the general salary requirement is now £38,700 or the ‘going rate’ of the 50th percentile for the occupation code, whichever is higher.

Question: Can I clarify something regarding the salaries allowable thresholds being based on 37.5 hours per week  - if someone is working say 20 hours should this also be pro-ratad? So basically anyone doing less than 37.5 or more than 37.5 hours should be calculated? 

Answer: That’s correct, the annual salaries for the ‘going rate’ are based on a 37.5-hour working week. They must be pro-rated for other working patterns, based on the hourly rates applicable for role being sponsored.

Question: General salary threshold - is this also pro-rata'd for part-time or other working hours, e.g. 35 hours per week or 48 hours per week?

Answer: The general threshold is the same, regardless of how many hours a week the applicant is sponsored to work. It cannot be pro-rated for part-time work.

Transitional Arrangements 

Question: Do the transitional arrangements apply if they have a skilled worker visa with one employer and then move to another employer on a skilled worker visa?

Answer: Yes, when someone has had their certificate of sponsorship for their Skilled Worker visa assigned before 4 April 2024 and they have continually held one or more Skilled Worker visas since then, the transitional arrangements will apply to them.  In those circumstances, they can move to a different role with the same employer or move from one sponsor to a new sponsor, subject to all requirements being met for the Skilled Worker visa route. 

It is important to note that for their new role the salary will need to meet general transitional salary requirement of £29,000 or the ‘going rate’ of the 25th percentile for the occupation code, whichever is higher and employers should be aware that even for the Transitional Going rate there has been a big jump in the salary requirement as you can see from the examples below:-

SOC 2010SOC 2020Pre-4 April 2024 Going rateTransitional Going rate
Programmers and software development professionals (2136)Programmers and software development professionals (2134)£27,200£36,300
Architects (2431)Architects (2451)£26,320£38,800

IT business analysts, architects and systems designers (2135)

IT business analysts, architects and systems designers (2133)


Health and Care

Question: NHS Scotland now has full time hours of 37 and not 37.5. Will UKVI know that when we put 37 hours per week on a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) it's not part time?

Answer: For Occupations paid by NHS bands, the salary requirements are based on a 37.5-hour week and must be pro-rated for other working patterns so you would need to make sure that the applicant can meet the salary requirements based on a pro-rated 37 hour per week salary. 


Question: If applicants apply and we are not able to pay for the sponsorship, is that a legally ok reason to reject?

Answer: We referred this question to Andrew Wallace, an Associate in the Employment Team, as this question raises issues of employment law which protects employees and potential employees from being discriminated against because of race, ethnicity, and nationality. He advised that employers can reject applicants who do not already have the Right to Work in the UK on the basis that employing the individual would be in contravention of a restriction imposed by legislation, but care must be taken not discourage or exclude applicants, either directly or indirectly, because of their race, nationality and other such characteristics that they know or perceive and not to make assumptions about a person’s right to work based on their colour, nationality, accent, surname, race and other similar factors.

At Thorntons, with three specialist immigration lawyers on the team, including a Law Society of Scotland Accredited Immigration Lawyer, we can act quickly on your behalf and apply our experience to help you or your business with all areas of Immigration Law including answering questions about what the new requirements mean for your existing staff and future hires. If you have a query or seek advice, please contact our specialist Immigration team on 03330 430350.

About the authors

Louise Crichton
Louise Crichton

Louise Crichton

Senior Solicitor

Immigration & Visas

Gurjit Pall
Gurjit Pall

Gurjit Pall

Legal Director

Immigration & Visas

For more information, contact Louise Crichton or any member of the Immigration & Visas team on 0141 483 9020.