Skilled Worker visa


A Skilled Worker visa allows workers to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible skilled job with an approved employer.

This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.

It also allows workers to work in UK waters.


For applicants

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • work for a UK employer that's been approved by the Home Office
  • have a 'certificate of sponsorship' from the employer with information about the role they'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 to be done

Specific eligibility depends on the job.

Knowledge of English

The applicant must be able to speak, read, write and understand English. They’ll usually need to prove their knowledge of English when they apply.

For employers

The applicant must have a job offer from a UK employer, who is a Home Office-approved sponsor before they can apply for a Skilled Worker visa. Approved employers are also known as sponsors, because they are sponsoring workers to come to or stay in the UK.

Only certain occupations are eligible to meet the requirements of the Skilled Worker visa.View the table of eligible jobs.

If you are not currently an approved UK employer you can apply for a sponsor licence if you are eligible.

Who needs to be sponsored with a Skilled Worker visa?

You will need to sponsor any overseas national you wish to employ if they are not a ‘settled worker’, are not eligible to make an unsponsored application, or do not otherwise have immigration permission to work for you in the UK. This includes most EU, EEA and Swiss nationals who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020.

Who doesn't need sponsored?

You do not have to sponsor certain categories of workers, including:

  • Irish citizens
  • EU, EEA and Swiss citizens (and their eligible family members) who have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • people with indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK (also known as ‘settlement’)

This is not a complete list - see full details on who does, and who does not, need a sponsorship.

What are the sponsorship requirements for the Skilled Worker visa?

If you wish to sponsor a Skilled Worker, you must:

  • hold a valid Worker sponsor licence for the Skilled Worker route
  • understand the general requirements for sponsoring a worker
  • satisfy yourself the worker can meet the immigration requirements for this route
  • only sponsor workers in genuine employment which meets the skill level and salary requirements of this route
  • if you wish to sponsor a nurse or midwife before they have achieved full registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, understand the registration process and your additional sponsor duties
  • assign a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the worker you wish to sponsor and pay any relevant CoS fee and Immigration Skills Charge
  • ensure you understand the difference between a ‘Defined CoS’ and an ‘Undefined’ CoS
  • keep records for each worker you sponsor, including information on how you recruited the worker
  • have eligible key personnel in place to manage your licence and assign or apply for CoS
  • understand and comply with all of your sponsor duties

For full details see sponsoring a Skilled Worker: overview.

How to apply for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence

If you wish to sponsor a Skilled Worker, you must hold a valid Worker sponsor licence for the Skilled Worker route. If you do not already hold such a licence, you must apply for a sponsor licence.

Eligibility for a sponsor licence

To be eligible for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, you must be able to offer employment that:

  • meets the skill level and salary requirements for this route
  • is genuine
  • does not amount to the hiring of the worker to a third party to undertake an ongoing or routine role

Read full details on how to get a Skilled Worker sponsor licence.

How to keep your licence

If you are granted a licence, you must comply with all of your sponsor duties. If you do not, UK Visas & Immigration may take action against you, including:

  • downgrading your licence rating
  • suspending your licence
  • revoking your licence
  • reporting you to the police or other relevant authorities

For full details, see sponsor duties and compliance.


There is a fee to apply for a sponsor licence. Fees differ depending on the size of your business and if you operate as a charity. It usually takes around eight weeks to process a licence application.

There are also a number of costs that an applicant must meet for the Skilled Worker visa including the application fee, a healthcare surcharge and proof that they have enough money to support themselves. If the employer can support the applicant instead this will need to be completed on the certificate of sponsorship.

How much do you have to pay a Skilled Worker?

Unless a transitional arrangement or other exception applies, the salary you pay to the worker must meet or exceed all of the following:

  • the general salary threshold – for most jobs
  • the applicable going rate for the occupation
  • where applicable, the minimum hourly rate

If the going rate for the occupation is higher than the general salary threshold, you must pay the worker at least the going rate. If the going rate is lower than the general salary threshold, you must pay the worker at least the general salary threshold. In either case, you must pay at least the hourly rate (where this applies)

Read full details on salary requirements for Skilled Worker.

How long can the applicant stay?

The worker can stay in the UK with a Skilled Worker visa for 5 years. The visa will need to be extended or updated when it expires. After 5 years the worker may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK.

Further information

For further details on the Skilled Workers visa for: