On 4 April 2024, the Home Office implemented significant changes to the Skilled Worker visa rules. These modifications have substantial implications for employers and potential applicants.

This guide aims to provide an overview of these changes and their practical implications, helping both employers and workers navigate the updated requirements.

Who can apply for the Skilled Worker visa?

To be eligible for the Skilled Worker visa, applicants must:

  • Have a job offer in an eligible occupation from a Home Office-approved UK employer.
  • Hold a Certificate of Sponsorship.
  • Be paid the minimum salary for their job type.

Key Changes to the Skilled Worker visa rules

  1. Increase of the general salary threshold: The most notable change to the Skilled Worker visa rules is the increase in the general salary threshold by a staggering 48%, increasing from £26,200 per annum to £38,700 per annum.  
  2. Increase to individual occupation minimum salaries: The government also increased the minimum salary for individuals who obtained their Certificate of Sponsorship after 4 April 2024, including a ‘lower rate’ column for those who obtained a Certificate of Sponsorship prior to 4 April 2024. For example, the minimum standard rate for directors in logistics is now £72,200 per annum for new applicants (or £36,900 per annum if the applicant qualifies for the lower rate).
  3. Replacement of the Shortage Occupation List: The Home Office replaced the Shortage Occupation List with the Immigration Salary List, which is expected to be reconsidered later in the year. The Immigration Salary List allows for minimum salaries of 80% of the usual rate for the job. Some of the occupations included on the list are biological scientists, artists and bricklayers, to name a few.

Practical implications for Skilled Workers

The changes have brought to light considerable implications to both Skilled Workers and employers.

  • Meeting the minimum salary threshold: Prospective visa applicants must ensure their job offers meet the new salary thresholds. This could mean negotiating higher salaries or considering different roles that align with the updated requirements. Understanding the going rates for various occupations is crucial for applicants to assess their eligibility. Individuals whose minimum salary is less than the standard rate may still be eligible for the Skilled Worker visa if they are under 26 years old, studying or a recent graduate or in professional training. Individuals who hold a STEM PhD level qualification relevant to their job may also be eligible for a salary lower than the standard going rate. 
  • Application process: The application process itself remains largely unchanged, but applicants must show that their salary meets the new thresholds.
  • Career planning: For skilled workers already in the UK, career progression and salary increments must align with the new rules to ensure eligibility for visa extensions and settlement. Workers should seek roles and employers that can meet these requirements over the long term.

Tips for a Successful Skilled Worker Visa Application

It is crucial to thoroughly understand and comply with the new salary thresholds and other visa requirements.

Begin by verifying that your job offer meets or exceeds the updated salary thresholds, which might involve negotiating with your employer to ensure the offer aligns with the new rules.

The changes to the Skilled Worker visa rules and salary thresholds represent a significant shift in the UK’s immigration landscape.

For employers, this means adjusting recruitment and compliance strategies to meet new requirements. For workers, it necessitates ensuring job offers align with the updated thresholds and understanding the implications for career planning.

By staying informed and prepared, both employers and workers can successfully navigate these changes and continue to benefit from the opportunities the Skilled Worker visa offers.

It is advisable to seek professional advice from immigration solicitors who can guide you through the complexities of the application process and help address any potential issues.

Ensuring your application is comprehensive and accurately reflects your qualifications and job role can significantly enhance your chances of obtaining the visa.

To find out more about our immigration services, please speak to our specialist Skylar McKeith by calling 0207 240 0521 or emailing skylar.mckeith@mackrell.com