How the Skilled Worker Visa helps to solve the UK’s Skills Gap Issues

Skilled Worker Visa

If you haven’t heard, there is a huge skills shortage in the UK, and it is affecting every one of us. When the economy suffers, we suffer, which is precisely what’s happening due to the skills shortage.

An ONS survey found that 13.3% of businesses reported a staff shortage in November 2022. The main industries with skills shortages are accommodation/food and construction.

So, how does this relate to the Skilled Worker Visa?

Fortunately, with the availability of this visa, the skills shortage does not have to continue for long. The Skilled Worker Visa allows employers to sponsor foreign staff with specific skills to live and work in the UK for at least five years.

Many of these jobs suffer from a severe shortage, but even industries that aren’t on the list welcome the much-needed talent from overseas. This visa provides foreign workers with a fantastic opportunity to experience life in the UK and benefits our businesses and, ultimately, our economy.

Applying for a Sponsor Licence as an Employer

Before applying for a sponsor license, employers should check whether they need to submit an application.

If the foreign worker has indefinite leave-to-remain status, is an Irish citizen, or has settled or pre-settled status (EU Settlement Scheme), there is no need to acquire a sponsor license for the employee.

However, in most other cases, a sponsor license is obligatory (including for unpaid work).

The next step is to check your eligibility as an employer.

The main eligibility requirements are:

  • Having appropriate work systems to monitor sponsored workers (on the Sponsorship Management System)
  • Being able to appoint eligible staff members as managers of the sponsored worker (a key contact, an authorizing officer and a level 1 user)
  • Not having unspent criminal convictions for certain named crimes (e.g., fraud or immigration offenses)
  • Not having a history of sponsor license revocation
  • Offering a job that meets the Skilled Worker Visa requirements in the UK and complies with minimum wage and working time regulations

If you believe you are eligible to become a Skilled Worker Visa sponsor, you can submit an application for a sponsor license on the UK Home Office website. After registering your account, you are free to complete the application and send in the submission sheet.

As part of the application, you will need to provide a series of supporting documents. The documents will be outlined within the application, but it is common to be asked for:

  • Companies House reference number
  • Business accounts
  • Evidence of Overseas Trading
  • Proof of purchase or lease of UK business premises
  • Contracts for goods and services
  • Proof of liaisons with specialist advice companies (if applicable)

The application’s cost depends on the size of the business in question. Small businesses and charities pay £536, while medium to large organizations are charged £1,476.

Small businesses are classed as businesses that meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Total personnel count of 50 or fewer
  • Annual turnover of £10.2 million or less
  • Total assets worth £5.1 million or less

Charities are identified through charity registration in England and Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland. Excepted charities, exempt charities and ecclesiastical corporations, which were established for charitable purposes, are also considered charities by the Home Office.

Finally, medium to large corporations are businesses that don’t fit the small or charity category, as outlined above.

Please remember that securing a sponsor license doesn’t automatically result in the prospective employee getting a Skilled Worker Visa. They will need to meet the requirements for this visa before they are allowed to move to the UK.

Applying for a Skilled Worker Visa as an Employee

As soon as your employer has received a sponsor license and you have a confirmed job offer, you can start with the Skilled Worker Visa application. Again, checking the eligibility criteria is important to ensure your application isn’t wasted.

Different jobs have unique visa requirements, but the main criteria that all candidates must meet are:

  • Being competent in the English language (including speaking, writing, reading and listening)
  • Having a prospective job that pays minimum wage or higher and is on the list of Skilled Worker visa-eligible occupations
  • Possessing a certificate of sponsorship from an employer that the Home Office approves

People who tick these boxes can apply for a Skilled Worker Visa on the Home Office website.

All candidates will be asked to provide:

  • Job title and annual salary
  • Employer’s name and sponsor license number
  • Proof of English language competence
  • Certificate of sponsorship reference number
  • Valid passport or alternative travel document
  • Job’s occupation code
  • Certified translations of any documents that are not written in English or Welsh

Some applicants will also be asked for:

  • Tuberculosis test
  • Evidence of a genuine relationship with a partner or biological relationship with a child
  • UK Ph.D. certificate or unique Ecctis reference number
  • Proof of sufficient personal savings
  • Criminal record certificate
  • Valid ATAS certificate

Fees for the UK Skilled Worker Visa route are reduced for people whose job is on the shortage occupation list. However, the standard application fee is between £625 (stays of up to 3 years) and £1235 (stays of over 3 years).

As well as the application fee, candidates should prepare to pay £624 per year for the healthcare surcharge. There is also a minimum savings requirement of £1270.

Submitting an Accurate Application

Visa rejections are not reserved for false documentation. Your application could still be rejected even if you gather all the correct documents and commit to total honesty.

For this reason, it’s recommended that you seek the advice of a legal professional with experience in the UK immigration industry. This will help to ensure that any unexpected issues with the application can be dealt with as quickly as possible.