Moving to the UK as a Skilled Worker

The Country UK, with people walking on the streets.

Foreigners who wish to make the UK their home can opt for one of the many visa routes that the UK Home Office implements, including a plethora of work visa programs.

However, it’s not as simple as entering British soil and landing a job. You must first jump through a series of legal hoops that would give you clearance to work in the UK. Furthermore, if you wish to settle permanently, the visa that you plan on getting has to qualify you for Indefinite Leave to Remain, which may later earn you the right to obtain British citizenship.

What Long-Term Visas Are Available for Non-UK Workers?

The most common visa routes that enable you to stay and work in the UK long-term are the following:

  • Skilled Worker Visa
  • Scale-Up Visa
  • Health and Care Worker Visa
  • Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

One common aspect of all these visas is that they require a “certificate of sponsorship” from the prospective employer (who must, in turn, hold a “sponsor licence”). This certificate contains all the relevant information about your job.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the details regarding each of these visas.

Skilled Worker Visa

The Skilled Worker Visa program is part of the UK’s points-based immigration system that allows people from overseas to work in qualified jobs inside the UK. It was set to replace the Tier 2 (General) Visa.

To get your application approved, you need to score 70 points minimum and demonstrate that:

  • you have a job offer from an approved sponsor;
  • the offered position has a minimum skill level of RQF3;
  • you’ll earn an annual salary of over £25,600 (or the role’s “going rate” if it’s higher);
  • you’ve paid the relevant fees (ranging from £625 to £1,423) and the health surcharge (equivalent to £624 per year of stay or lower if you’re applying for a shortage occupation).

You could be qualified for this visa even if you don’t meet the salary conditions, provided that the salary offered exceeds the amount of £20,480 per year and either:

  • you have a job offer in shortage occupations;
  • you have a PhD relevant to the role; or
  • you hold a PhD in a STEM subject related to the job.

The Skilled Worker Visa has a validity of five years and is extendable. You can also submit an Indefinite Leave to Remain application if you maintain the conditions that made you eligible for this Visa.

Scale-Up Visa

Scale-Up Visas are offered to people who receive a job offer from a sponsoring business with a growth rate of 20% or more over a three-year period (either in annual average turnover or employment) and that had at least 10 employees from the beginning of that period.

To apply for this visa, you must fulfil the following requirements:

  • you ought to be offered a salary of at least £33,000 per year, £10.10 per hour, or the current “going rate” for the occupation (whichever is the highest);
  • the job offer must be made for a minimum of six months;
  • the role you’ll be filling must be included on the eligible list;
  • you must pay the £715 application fee and the £624 healthcare surcharge per year of stay.

The Scale-Up Visa has a validity of only two years, but you may ask for a three-year extension as long as you fulfil the eligibility conditions. This visa likewise makes you suitable for attaining ILR status later on.

Health and Care Worker Visa

This is a route targeted toward health professionals who wish to work for the NHS, for an NHS supplier or in adult social care.

For this visa you must meet the following prerequisites:

  • you must have an eligible job offer in health or social care;
  • the offer must be from a Home Office-approved employer;
  • the yearly salary should not be lower than £25,600 or the “going rate” for the occupation (the highest of the two);
  • you must pay the fee, which amounts to £247 per person if you plan to stay for a maximum of three years or £479 if the stay is for more than three years.

Just as with the Skilled Worker Visa, you’ll be allowed to remain in the country for a period of five years and you may also extend the visa or opt for Indefinite Leave to Remain instead.

Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

This route was launched on 11 April 2022 (replacing the Intra-Company Transfer Visa). It also receives the name “Global Business Mobility” (GBM) Visa.

It’s open to high-ranking employees or specialists working for overseas companies that are planning to establish a subsidiary or branch in the UK. This visa program is also within the UK’s points-based immigration system.

To apply, you ought to make sure that the following conditions are met:

  • you must already work for a business that’s approved by the Home Office;
  • the salary must be £42,400 per year at least;
  • the job must be featured on the list of eligible jobs.
  • you must pay the application fee (ranging from £625 to £1,423) and the healthcare surcharge equivalent to £624 per year of stay.

This visa is the only one from this list that doesn’t qualify its holders for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Furthermore, it has a validity of either five years or the time prescribed on the certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days.

You may extend this visa, so long as your stay doesn’t surpass the following limits:

  • five years within a six-year timescale for jobs with salaries below £73,900 per year; or
  • nine years within a ten-year period if the salary exceeds £73,900 per year.

How Can I Apply for These Work Visas?

All these visa applications must be made online and you would generally be required to accompany your petition with the following:

  • a valid passport or travel document;
  • evidence that you have the financial means to sustain yourself during your stay in the country (you’ll have to show that you had at least £1,270 available for the 28 days before the submission date);
  • the certificate of sponsorship supplied by your employer or future employer;
  • evidence that you mastered the English language at a level equivalent to B1 or higher (according to CEFR standards);
  • documents relative to the employment;
  • a criminal record certificate.

Regarding the English language requirement, you’d be exempt from it if you are from a majorly English-speaking country or you were taught a degree in English at an approved institution of higher learning.

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain?

The Indefinite Leave to Remain is a permit that enables non-UK citizens to reside in the UK for an undetermined amount of time and to freely enter and leave the country without having to go through strenuous immigration checks.

The Indefinite Leave to Remain provides a foothold for those wishing to acquire British citizenship without being entitled on other grounds.

Hot to Get Indefinite Leave to Remain

Firstly, you’d need to maintain the salary conditions demanded for your previously-approved leave and it must also be evidenced that your employer still needs you for the job.


  • you must be under a suitable visa;
  • you must have resided in the UK for a minimum of five years minus 28 days (in some cases, the period between approval and entry can count towards the qualifying period);
  • your stay should have been continuous, meaning that you must not have remained outside the UK for more than 180 days within a period of 12 months;
  • you have to show that you have knowledge of the English language;
  • you’d need to have passed the “Life in the UK” test that benchmarks your knowledge of British traditions, culture, and history;
  • you ought to have a clean criminal record with no history of serious offences or breaches of immigration laws during your stay;
  • you must pay the £2389 application fee per person and an additional £19.20 for registering biometric data.

How Can I Obtain British Citizenship from a UK Work Visa?

To get British citizenship from a work visa, you should remain in the UK for at least 12 more months after getting ILR status unless you entered into a marriage or civil union with a British citizen (in which case you may bypass this period).

Apart from the “waiting period” mentioned above, you’d need to:

  • prove that you have been living in the UK for at least five years prior to the date of your application;
  • demonstrate that you have knowledge of English and that you passed the “Life in the UK” test;
  • not have committed serious offences throughout all your time in the country;
  • make sure that your absences from the UK didn’t exceed 90 days within a 12-month timescale or 450 days within a 5-year period.

In addition to the above, you’ve got to pay a fee of £1,330 and schedule an appointment to have your biometrics taken.

After the Home Office receives your application, it usually takes six months for them to notify you of their decision, provided that you were not required to submit complementary documentation midway through the process.

If the application is successful, you’d then have to schedule your citizenship ceremony, after which you’ll be given a British citizenship certificate. With this certificate, you can apply for your British passport.

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.