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Skilled Worker Visa for US citizens

The UK Tier 2 (General) Visa was replaced by the Skilled Workers Visa in December 2020. American citizens living in the UK can still apply for a Tier 2 (General) Visa extension if they are living in the UK under this immigration permission.

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UK work visa for American citizens

The Tier 2 Visa (General) was rebranded as the Skilled Worker Visa in 2020. This visa is for skilled professionals who have been offered a position in a UK company. Also, you must score at least 70 points on the UK points-based system to be eligible.

The Skilled Worker route enables you to live and work in the UK for up to five years. You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, a form of settled status, after you have lived in the UK for five years under the Skilled Worker Visa.

The eligibility criteria for this immigration permission depends on your job role and individual circumstances.

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Skilled Worker Visa Eligibility for American Citizens

There are similarities between the eligibility criteria for the old Tier 2 (General) Visa and the new Skilled Worker Visa, but there are a few important changes which you ought to be aware of.

Main eligibility criteria for the UK Skilled Worker Visa route for Americans:

  • Must score at least 70 points on the points-based system
  • Must have been offered a position in a UK company which holds a sponsorship licence
  • Must have a unique Certificate of Sponsorship number, which should be given by your prospective employer
  • Must meet a certain minimum salary threshold in line with the job role. (The absolute minimum salary threshold is £20,480
  • The job offer needs to be a ‘genuine vacancy’
  • The job needs to be at an appropriate skill level
  • Must have enough money to financially support yourself (and any dependents)

What are the Job Requirements?

The job must be skilled to at least RQF level 3. This level refers to educational background and vocational work. You do not need to necessarily have a minimum educational qualification if you want to apply for the Skilled Worker Visa – the skill level is determined by the job itself.

You will need to provide the occupation code for your job in your application. Your employer in the UK must provide you with this number.

You will need to satisfy the UK Home Office that your job is a ‘genuine vacancy’. This means that the job requires the person to perform specific duties and responsibilities relating to the role and that the job meets the requirements of the job category.

What is the UK Points-based Immigration System?

The UK’s immigration system went through one of its biggest shake ups in decades in 2020. One of the main changes was the implementation of a point-based system. To be eligible for the Skilled Worker Visa, you must score at least 70 points on the system.

There are both mandatory points and tradeable points. You can accrue points through different measures such as your level of education, salary and through a shortage occupation job offer.

The mandatory points are as follows:

  • 20 points: offer of a job from a UK company with a sponsorship licence
  • 20 points: Job at the appropriate skill level
  • 10 points: English-language ability at the level of B1

The most common way of meeting the 70-point threshold is through your salary. If your salary will be at least £25,600, you will accrue another 20 points to meet the 70-point threshold.

However, this is not the only way to reach the 70 points. The tradeable points are as follows:

  • 0 points: A salary of at least £20,480 to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is highest)
  • 10 points: A salary of at least £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is highest)
  • 20 points: A salary of £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession (whichever is highest)
  • 10 points: Job in a shortage occupation
  • 10 points: PhD in a subject relevant to the job
  • 20 points: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job role

Required Documents for the UK Skilled Worker Visa

You will need to submit a portfolio of evidence to the UK Home Office to prove your eligibility for the Skilled Worker Visa.

The specific documents and information which you need to include will depend somewhat on your job role and your own unique circumstances.

Still, all applicants will need to provide the following information:

  • Valid passport or other identity document
  • Information about your job, including your job title, occupation code and the salary you will be earning
  • Your unique certificate of sponsorship number
  • Name of your UK employer and their sponsorship number
  • Bank statements or other approved information which demonstrate you can financially support yourself in the UK
  • Proof of the relationship between you and your family members/dependents if they will be joining you in the UK

What Do I Need to Know About the Financial Requirements?

You need to be able to prove that you can financially support yourself during your first month of residency in the UK and will not become a financial burden on the UK.

You must have at least £1,270 available to you and you must have held that money for at least 28 consecutive days, ending no later than 31 days before your application date.

It is possible for your employer (sponsor) in the UK to meet the maintenance cost. The employer must confirm in on your certificate of sponsorship that they will financially support you in these circumstances.

If you want to find out more about the Skilled Worker route, please get in touch now. Contact Us

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What is the Application Process for the Skilled Worker Visa?

You must apply for the Skilled Worker Visa online and applications can be made from the United States, or inside the UK if you want to switch from an eligible visa.

You can apply for the visa up to three months before the date you are due to start your job in the UK. If you apply from America, you can expect to receive a decision within 3 weeks. However, if you are applying from inside the UK it can take up to eight weeks for your application to be processed.

The processing of your application could be delayed if the UK Home Office has any concerns with your application. For instance, you may be asked to verify certain documents or attend an immigration interview. This is why it is vitally important to ensure that your portfolio of evidence contains all relevant information and adheres to all necessary administrative standards.

The IAS can help you through the entire application process with our application package. With this service, one of our UK immigration lawyers will help you to formulate your application to the very highest standard.

We will pair you with an immigration lawyer who is experienced in UK immigration law. They will take the time to understand your own unique circumstances and will advise you on the information and documents which you will need to include in your application, and will help you to source the information too.

Once your portfolio of evidence has been prepared, they will complete your application form and submit your full application to the Home Office, accompanied by a letter of representation highlighting the merits of your case.

They will liaise with the UK authorities throughout the processing stage and will keep you informed on your application’s progress.

To find out more about how we can help you to secure your Skilled Worker Visa and enjoy a new life in the UK, please call us now on +1 844 290 6312.

What are the Fees for the Skilled Worker Visa?

The fees for this visa vary depending on the length of your contract, the job role and whether you are applying for the visa inside the UK or from America.

Length of application Fee for application submitted from America Fee for application submitted inside UK
Application up to three years £610 per person £704 per person
Application more than three years £1,220 per person £1,408 per person
Application for job on shortage occupation list up to three years £464 per person £464 per person
Application for job on shortage occupation list more than three years £928 per person £928 per person

In addition to the standard application fee, you will also need to pay the annual immigration health surcharge. In most cases, you will need to pay £624 annually.

Can my Family Join me in the UK?

Yes, immediate family members and dependents will be able to join you in the UK on the basis of their relationship to you. Eligible family members include:

  • Your spouse/civil partner or unmarried partner
  • Your child who is under 18-years-old (including children who were born during your UK residency)
  • Your child who is over 18-years old if they are currently in the UK as your dependent

Each family member will need to submit a separate application, pay the full application fee and go through the whole application process. They will need to provide evidence which proves their relationship to the Skilled Worker Visa applicant.

Also, either the family member or the Skilled Worker Visa applicant will need to be able to show that they can financially support themselves in the UK during the first month of residency:

  • £285 for partner
  • £315 for one child
  • £200 for every other child

Can I Apply for an Extension?

Yes, you can apply for an extension to your Skilled Worker Visa route if:

  • You have the same job as when you applied for the original visa
  • Your job is in the same occupation code
  • You are working for the same employer who originally assigned your current certificate of sponsorship

You will need to provide the Home Office with certain information when you apply for the Skilled Worker Visa. It usually takes around eight weeks for an extension application to be processed.

The cost for an extension is as follows:

  • £704 per person for an extension of up to three years
  • £1,408 per person for an extension of more than three years
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Frequently Asked Questions

If you are planning to make your move from the United States a permanent one, you might be wondering when you will be able to apply for settlement in the UK.

Once you have spent five years living in the UK under a Skilled Worker Visa, you will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This is a form of settled status which enables you to live and work in the UK without any restrictions.

The main requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain are:

  • Must have spent a certain period of time lawfully living in the UK
  • Must not have broken any immigration conditions during your UK residency
  • Must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in a 12-month period
  • Achieve a pass in the Life in the UK test (this is a test on the history, traditions and culture of the UK)

After you have spent one year living in the UK under Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will be eligible for British citizenship.

If you job role is going to be changing, you may need to update your visa and inform the UK Home Office.

You will need to do this if:

  • Your job is changing to a different occupation code and you are not on a form of a graduate training programme
  • You are looking to change your job and your new job is with a different employer
  • You are changing your job from one on the shortage occupation list to one which is not

You can apply to update your visa up to three months before your new job is due to start. You will need a new certificate of sponsorship when you apply to update your visa.

No, the job does not need to be on the occupation shortage list. However, your Skilled Worker Visa application fee will be reduced if your job is on the shortlist.

You can find a current list of the Shortage Occupation List here. The Shortage Occupation List for education and healthcare workers can be found here.

Yes, you can undertake extra work. You can do additional paid work if it is related to the job which you are being sponsored to do.

Also, you can work for up to 20 hours a week in a job which is in the same occupation code and skill level as your current job or shortage occupation role.

It is also possible to undertake additional self-employed work. A freelance role can only be taken if the role is on the Shortage Occupation List and is at the same level as the role on your Certificate of Sponsorship and must adhere to the Skilled Worker Visa regulations.

Again, you can undertake an additional 20 hours of work as a self-employed person.

Yes, you can switch to the Skilled Worker Visa from other UK visas if you are already in the UK. You will, of course, still need to fulfil all requirements and go through the full application process.

However, bear in mind that the application will cost more and take longer to process than if you did it from the U.S.

You cannot switch from the following visas/immigration permissions:

  • Visitor Visa
  • Short-term student visa
  • Parent of a Child Student visa
  • Seasonal worker visa
  • Domestic worker in a private household visa

The Tier 2 General Visa was replaced by the Skilled Workers Visa in 2020. At the time of writing, it is still possible to apply for a Tier 2 Visa extension, but you cannot apply for a new Tier 2 (General) visa.

This category is for elite, internationally recognized personalities in the sporting industry. These individuals must make a significant contribution to the development of their sport. They must score a total of 70 points to be eligible. These points come from obtaining a Certificate of Sponsorship and endorsement from your sport’s governing body. The route also requires proof of English Language ability and maintenance funds.

For short-stay sportspeople, the Tier 5 (Temporary workers – creative and sporting) route may be more relevant.

More information on Tier 2 Sportsperson Visas.

You can apply under this category if you have been offered a position in the UK as a religious worker, missionary or as a member of a religious order. You can also apply if you have been offered a role as a religious minister.  To apply, you must meet the 70-point requirement.

50 points come from the Certificate of Sponsorship issued by your employer. The remaining 20 come from the English language test and proof of maintenance funds.

More information on the Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa.

This visa category is for those who are employed by a multinational company and transferring to a UK branch. This Tier 2 Visa UK route is for:

  • Graduate trainees under a structured training program. This must be for a managerial role or specialist position
  • Skills transfers for new employees to receive training only available in the UK
  • Those in a managerial or specialist role who have been hired to train workers in the UK

This application requires 60 points. 50 points come from your Certificate of Sponsorship provided by your employer. The remaining 10 come from proof of adequate maintenance funds.

More information on the Intra-company Transfer Visa.

The Immigration Advice Service is a leading immigration law firm operating in the United Kingdom, United States and Ireland.

Our UK immigration lawyers are well versed in UK work visa applications, including with the new Skilled Worker Visa.

With our application package, one of our caseworkers will work with you through the entire application process. This includes help with sourcing all of your information and documents to prove your eligibility for the visa. This invaluable guidance can be the difference between your application being accepted or rejected.

Once we have gathered all your information, we will complete your application form before submitting the full application to the Home Office. A letter of recommendation will be written to accompany your application too.

We will liaise with the Home Office throughout the processing stage and will keep you informed on your application’s progress.

To find out more about how we can help you to move to the UK as a skilled worker, please call us now on +1 844 290 6312.