Nighat Sahi

Published 8 November 2023

Navigating Skilled Worker Visa Applications From Inside the UK

In this third post in our series of articles about navigating the UK Visa system, we summarise the main provisions skilled worker visa applications from inside the UK.

Summary of the main provisions

A skilled worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. It has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. Your visa can last for up to 5 years but when it expires, you will need to apply to extend or update it. You can apply to update your visa up to 3 months before the start date of your new job and you can continue working in your current job while your new application is being considered. But you must apply before your current visa expires. You can also apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements but after 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’).

You will also need to apply for a new visa if you change jobs or employer. If you’re changing jobs, you should not start your new job until you’ve got confirmation of your new visa.

Eligibility for a skilled worker visa

To be eligible qualify for a skilled worker visa, you must:

  • work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work you do

You must also be able to speak, read, write and understand English.

The application process

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents. You should then get a decision within 8 weeks. You can find out more about proving your identity in our previous post. In some circumstances, you may be able to pay to get a faster decision.

If you’re eligible you can choose the ‘priority service’. You’ll need to pay £500 in addition to the application fee and will get a decision in 5 days. Alternatively, and if you’re eligible, you can choose the ‘super priority service’ when you apply. This comes with an £800 fee in addition to the application fee but you’ll get a decision by the end of the next working day after your appointment (2 working days after your appointment if your appointment is at the weekend or on a bank holiday). If you need a faster decision but are not sure if you’re eligible, please get in touch.

Extending or switching visa

Your application must be online, but the process may vary depending on whether you are extending your current visa or changing to a different type of visa.

Extending your current visa

You can usually apply to extend a skilled worker visa or a Tier 2 (General) work visa if you have the same job, or your job is in the same occupation code as when you were given your previous permission to enter or stay in the UK, or you’re still working for the employer who gave you your current certificate of sponsorship.

However, if you have been in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) work visa, the eligibility requirements may be different depending on when you got your certificate of sponsorship,  when you applied for your Tier 2 visa and your occupation code. Please get in touch if this affects you.

Changing job or switching visa

If you want to change your job or employer, you must apply to update your visa. You must also reapply if your new job has a different occupation code, and if you leave a job that’s on the shortage occupation list for a job that is not on the list. In addition, your new job must meet the usual eligibility requirements. You do not need to apply again if you stay in the same job, but your job is taken off the shortage occupation list.

You cannot apply to switch to a skilled worker visa if you’re in the UK:

  • on a visit visa
  • on a short-term student visa
  • on a Parent of a Child Student visa
  • on a seasonal worker visa
  • on a domestic worker in a private household visa
  • on immigration bail
  • because you were given permission to stay outside the immigration rules, for example on compassionate grounds.

In these circumstances, you will have to leave the UK and reapply for a skilled worker visa from outside the UK.

You must also apply to update your visa if you take on a second job that is either more than 20 paid hours a week in addition to the job you’re being sponsored for or in a different occupation code. You will need some additional documentation.

Frequently Asked Questions  

What can I do on a skilled worker visa?

With a skilled worker visa, you can work in an eligible job and study. You can also bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible, take on additional work in certain circumstances, do voluntary work and travel abroad and return to the UK.

What can’t I do on a skilled worker visa?

If you are in the UK on a skilled visa you cannot apply for most benefits, or the State Pension.

I already hold a Tier 2 visa, can I apply under that route again?

No. The Tier 2 (General) visa route closed to new applicants on 1 December 2020 and has been replaced with the skilled worker visa. However, time spent in the UK on Tier 2 visas will still count towards your 5-year settlement requirement.

What is the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)?

The payment of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is mandatory for all non-EEA nationals who are issued a visa of more than 6 months in length. You can find out more here: Link to article on RSW website.

How do I meet the financial requirements?

If you have been in the UK for 12 months or longer on any visa type, you are exempt from the financial requirements of the skilled worker visa.

Click here for information about: Navigating Skilled Worker Visa Applications From Outside the UK

Getting it right

Because of the complexity of the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) visa application process, the above is only a summary of the procedure in respect of skilled worker visa applications. The process is strict and highly scrutinized and so it’s essential to get things right. If any of the above affects you, or you would like to discuss what you need to do to apply, please call 020 3988 0170 or email us at

The legal content provided by RSW Law Limited is for information purposes only and should not be relied on in any specific case without legal or other professional advice.

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