4 Ways to get a Skilled Work Visa for UK in 2024 [Apply]

Emigrating on a skilled work visa for UK for many is a popular choice. The UK is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers in many sectors and is looking international to help reduce the skills gap.

Many of the UK sponsor visas can lead to permanent residency in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Most visas also allow family members known as dependants to come with them. As long as you meet the eligibility requirements for your chosen visa such as being sponsored by an employer, minumum salary and financial savings.

There are also ways to emigrate for work on a skilled labour visa UK, without needing companies that offer sponsorship.

UK Visa Types

Skilled Worker Visa

Skilled Worker Visa for UK

The Skilled Worker route is currently the second most popular skilled work visa for UK with 67,703 emigrating in the last 12 months. The visa allows you to work and live in the UK for up to five years with an employer who will sponsor you.

The visa was created to attract professionals from around the world who will help fill jobs in demand in the UK. The job offer must be a role on the Skilled Worker Occupations List and you will need to earn a salary from £38,700.

After five years you can begin the process to settle in the UK.

Health and Care Worker Visa

UK Healthcare Worker Visa

The Health and Care Worker visa is the most popular work permit in the UK, with 118,522 healthcare professionals arriving in the past 12 months. The visa allows medical professionals to live and work in the UK for up to five years.

The visa was designed to attract skilled care workers, doctors, nurses and more. The job offer must be listed on the Health and Care Worker Occupations List. An advantage of this visa is the minimum salary threshold is lower, allowing employers to offer roles from £26,200. You are also exempt from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge including your dependants if eligible.

After five years you can begin the process to settle in the UK.

Scale-Up Visa

Scale Up Visa

The Scale Up visa is an opportunity for highly skilled workers to move to the UK to work for a Scale Up Company. After 6 months, you will no longer need to be sponsored by your employer, allowing you to switch to another Scale Up company. The visa allows you to live and work in the UK for up to two years.

This visa was created to attract international professionals to a fast growing UK business, meaning companies who have grown 20% or more in the past three years. The occupations must be on the Scale-Up Occupations List and the minimum salary must be £36,400.

After two years you can apply to extend the visa for a further three years, after which you can begin the process to settle in the UK. Alternatively, you can switch to another visa like the Skilled Worker visa.

Senior or Specialist Worker Visa (Global Business Mobility)

Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

The Senior or Specialist Worker is a pathway to move to the UK if your employer has a UK branch and is willing to sponsor you. The visa allows you to live and work in the UK for up to nine years depending on your salary.

Otherwise known as Global Business Mobility it it was designed to allow global organisations to transfer staff between countries more easily. The job role must be on the Global Business Mobility List

This visa does not count towards settlement in the UK, but you can switch to another visa such as the Skilled Worker. This will give you an advantage over applicants from overseas trying to find a UK employer who is offering sponsorship, as you are already based in the UK.

Skilled Work Visa for UK Eligibility

UK jobs with visa sponsorship require you to be eligible in a number of ways. There are different requirements and documents needed depending on your personal circumstances and visa type.

In general, before you arrive you will need a valid passport and enough money to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge and any tests such as IELTS. Other visas require a Certificate of Sponsorship UK or to provide a birth certificate to prove your place of birth.

Below are the most common requirements that may come up during your application.

  • Valid passport
  • Proof of your knowledge of English (IELTS)
  • Bank statement proving sufficient funds
  • Evidence of your qualifications such as a bachelors degree certificate
  • Certificate of Sponsorship UK (CoS)
  • Your own full birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate if arriving with your spouse

Cost of a UK Visa

When applying for a UK sponsor visa you must have enough money to pay for several parts of the process. The costs will depend on your personal circumstances and which work visa you decided to apply for. Each visa has a different application fee, you also have to factor in any dependants, length of stay and if you are switching from another visa type.

Other costs to factor in could be the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Work visas will require this charge which is £1,035 per year except the Health and Care Worker visa holders who are exempt.

Below are the most common costs when going through your application for a skilled work visa for UK.

  • Visa application
  • Healthcare Surcharge
  • Flights to the UK
  • Insurance
  • Passport renewal or application
  • Short-term accommodation
  • Long-term accommodation
  • International Shipping
  • Pet transport
  • Tests such as English Language or Tuberculosis

UK Skilled Work Visa Processing Time

The application for your visa will begin when you confirm your identity either in person or online. You might have to attend your appointment in person at a visa application centre where your biometrics will be taken including fingerprints and a photograph.

Most work visas will take at least 3 weeks to process.

The process can take longer if your first submission did not include all the information that is needed. Additional time is also inevitable if your have had past criminal convictions or if more documentation is required,

To learn more and in detail, check our our article on UK Visa Processing Times.

How to apply for a Skilled Work Visa for UK

The application process for a UK visa begins when you confirm your identity. This can either be online using the ID Check application or you might have to attend your appointment in person. This is done at a visa application centre where your biometrics will be taken including fingerprints and a photograph. You can apply through the gov.uk website, for example the Senior or Specialist Worker visa.

Unskilled Jobs with Visa Sponsorship UK

There are multiple visas in the UK that allow you to move here that do require visa sponsorship initially. Although there is no unskilled shortage occupation list UK, you may be eligible through your ancestry, age or education history.

Another pathway is to arrive as a student before switching to a Graduate Visa that allows you to stay after your studies.

Check out our article on how to get a work permit without a job offer.

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