Skilled Worker Overview

The Skilled Worker visa route enables non UK/Irish nationals to undertake particular skilled roles at SRUC. The visa allows the individual, along with their family members (partner and children under 18), to live and work in the UK. The route can lead to settlement after five years which may enable them to stay permanently in the UK.

Tier 2 (General) Visa/Skilled Worker Visa

The Skilled Worker route replaced Tier 2 on 1 December 2020. All details on the Skilled Worker pages of the website are relevant to current Tier 2 visa holders. 

No action for current Tier 2 visa holders needs to be taken. If we need to extend their visa or undertake a change of employment, this will be done under the Skilled Worker requirements. 

A Skilled Worker visa is granted by the Home Office when the 

  • Appointment meets the Home Office sponsorship requirements (see below)
  • SRUC’s Recruitment Team successfully applies for and allocates a Certificate of Sponsorship for a Skilled Worker
  • The visa application is submitted by the individual which meets the Home Office eligibility requirements 

Sponsorship is provided in line with the duration of the appointment. SRUC can provide initial sponsorship for up to five years. There is no limit to the time that can be spent sponsored under the Skilled Worker visa, but individuals may be eligible to apply to stay permanently after five years residence in the UK.  

Does an applicant require a Skilled Worker Visa?

An assessment of an individual's Right to Work status will be undertaken. An applicant may require sponsorship under the Skilled Worker visa if they do not have a UK visa or their current UK visa does not permit them to undertake the role being offered. 

Certain visas carry restrictions on what work the holder can do and/or the hours they are permitted to work. The visa usually clearly states any restrictions. Please contact the Recruitment Team if you are unsure.

EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals

Free movement and the transitional arrangements in place for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals ended on 31 December 2020.

European nationals resident in the UK on or prior to 31 December 2020 must apply for Pre-Settled or Settled Status before 30 June 2021. 

European nationals arriving from the 1 January 2021 who have not been resident in the UK previously, will require an appropriate visa, such as the Skilled Worker visa to work in the UK.

Irish nationals automatically have the right to live and work in the UK and do not require a visa.

Applicants who are Tier 2/Skilled Worker visa holders

  • Individual already employed by SRUC: If the new role falls within the same UKVI SOC Code occupation category, it is likely this will just need to be reported to the Home Office. If significantly different, a new Skilled Worker sponsorship will be required with the new visa granted before they can commence the new role.
  • Individual employed by an external organisation: A new Skilled Worker visa will be required with sponsorship from SRUC.

Student (Tier 4) visa holder

International students who have been sponsored under a student visa to study in the UK can switch into the Skilled Worker route to undertake their first full time role. 

Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme visa holder

PhD/DPhil students who are nearing the completion of their studies and hold a student visa can apply for a 12 month extension to their visa under the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES). This visa allows the individual to work full time once they have completed their studies.

If the appointment is shorter than 12 months, the Tier 4 DES route may be better than the Skilled Worker route.

The Sponsorship process

Sponsorship can only be provided if the appointment meets the requirements for sponsorship which sets a minimum skills and salary threshold and that the appointment is a genuine vacancy.

Visa requirements can include English language ability, tuberculosis screening, maintenance and criminal record checks.

Certificate of Sponsorship / NARIC Code requirement

Prior to issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to an individual, it may be necessary for the individual to apply for and supply a NARIC code to satisfy conditions that require qualifications to be approved and confirmed as completed in the English language.

More information can be found on the NARIC website.

The CoS is an electronic document which lists the individual's personal details and information about the role. It contains a unique reference number which must be included in the Skilled Worker visa application.

Sponsorship is normally provided in line with the contract of employment period, up to an initial maximum period of five year sponsorship. There are different visa costs for an 'up to three year' visa, and an 'up to five year' visa. Visit our page about costs involved in obtaining a visa for more information.

Reporting changes to sponsored workers' personal situation

As soon as sponsorship is issued the Home Office expects changes to an individual's appointment to be reported to them. These reporting duties commence as soon as the CoS is issued and last until we cease sponsoring the individual.

Managers of sponsored staff will be provided with guidance on sponsorship reporting duties by the Recruitment Team.

Visa application

The sponsored individual must submit a visa application within three months of the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) being issued, otherwise the CoS automatically expires. They do not have to receive the Skilled Worker visa during these three months.

Applying within the UK

An individual can apply for a Skilled Worker visa from within the UK as long as they do not currently hold a

  • Visitor visa
  • Short-term Student visa
  • Parent of a Child Student visa
  • Seasonal Worker visa
  • Domestic Worker visa
  • Visa for reasons outside of the immigration rules


Issuing the Certificate of Sponsorship

The earliest the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) can be issued is three months before the individual's

  • Employment start date
  • Current Skilled Worker visa expires

The CoS can be issued as soon as the Home Office requirements can be met. It is provided electronically to the applicant, enabling them to receive the information they require to apply for the Skilled Worker visa quickly.

Visa application processing timescales

Once the full visa application, including online application, payment of fee, and registering biometric details, has been completed processing times are normally

  • three weeks when applying outside the UK
  • eight weeks within the UK

Priority services, at additional cost, are available. For overseas applications information on priority services will be detailed by visa application centre. In the UK this is either a super priority (next working day decision) or priority service (five working days).

Once a decision is made, it can take another 1 to 2 weeks for the

  • Passport containing the entry vignette to be returned to the applicant overseas
  • New biometric residence permit (BRP) to be posted to the individual's UK address

Delayed Start date

A realistic start date should be set taking into account the individual's circumstances, and the visa application processing times.

Any proposed change in start date once the CoS has been provided should be discussed immediately with the Recruitment Manager, if possible amendments can be made to the CoS before the applicant submits their visa application.

Late arrivals once the visa has been granted, cannot be delayed by more than four weeks otherwise the visa will be cancelled.

Details of the fees charged by the Home Office for a Skilled Worker visa application

The sections below provide an overview of the costs associated with a Skilled Worker visa. Visit our page about costs involved in obtaining a visa for more information.

Issuing Sponsorship – paid for by SRUC

When issuing a Skilled Worker Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) the Recruitment Team has to pay the following, which are then charged back to the employing department:

  • CoS application fee
  • Immigration Skills charge 

Visa Application – paid for by employee

When submitting their visa applications online (after they have been issued a CoS) applicants and their dependants have to pay the following:

  • Visa fee 
  • NHS surcharge 
  • Biometric enrolment fee
  • Any fees for priority services they decide to use

A useful toll for calculating visa fees is available on the website

Skilled Workers – on arrival to UK from overseas

When an out-of-country Skilled Worker visa application is granted a vignette (visa sticker) will be placed in the applicant's passport.

Those applying for a Skilled Worker visa for six months or more receive a 30 day vignette, which is used to enter the UK, and are instructed when and where to collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) after they arrive in the UK. The BRP is a plastic credit-card sized visa valid for the full length of their visa.

Those applying for a Skilled Worker visa for less than six months receive a vignette valid for the full length of their visa and are not given a BRP.

Collecting BRPs

Those who have applied for a Skilled Worker visa for six months or more must collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within ten days after arriving in the UK, or before their vignette expires, whichever is sooner. The Home Office letter which confirmed their application had been granted will list when and where they will need to collect their BRP.

Occasionally a BRP is not ready for collection on the stated date and the visa holder will need to return a day or two later to collect the BRP. If a BRP is still not available for collection the visa holder can report this to the Home Office to receive further instruction but should also inform their employing department/ faculty and the SRUC Recruitment Team.

BRPs should be carefully checked when they are picked up as any errors in details or dates will need to be corrected. If there are errors on a BRP the visa holder should inform their employing department and SRUC Recruitment Team.

More detail on these issues is found in Home Office guidance on Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs).

Presenting vignette and BRP to evidence Right to Work

Skilled Worker visa holders will need to present their vignette and BRP to their employing department to evidence their right to work in the UK before they can commence work.

If a visa holder visits their employing department/faculty to complete a right to work check but has not yet collected their BRP, they will need to collect and return with their BRP so that both their vignette and BRP can be checked.

If BRP collection is delayed they may be able to start work after a right to work check on their vignette but must then collect and present their BRP before their vignette expires to complete the check and fully establish their right to work in the UK.

The Home Office requires evidence of the date a Skilled Worker visa holder enters the UK to be kept as part of their record-keeping requirements. Usually, the vignette will be date stamped upon arrival. In the absence of an entry stamp – for example, if the Skilled Worker visa holder entered through Ireland or another part of the Common Travel Area, or through an 'eGate' – other evidence, such as the boarding card or travel itinerary will need to be presented to the employing department/faculty when the right to work check is being completed.

Police registration

Those who are required to register with the police must do so within seven days after arriving in the UK. If police registration is required this will have been stated in the Home Office letter which confirmed their application had been granted.  

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