Skilled Worker


The Skilled Worker visa route allows an individual to come to the UK to undertake an eligible job with an approved employer. It has replaced the Tier 2 visa. Any extensions or changes to employment for current Tier 2 visa holders will be processed via the requirements of the Skilled Worker route.

To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa and be issued a certificate of sponsorship from their employer/prospective employer, an applicant must score a minimum of 70 points. They must:

It is possible to ‘trade points’ by holding a relevant PhD, a job in a shortage occupation or by being a ‘new entrant’ to the labour market. For further advice contact the Staff Immigration Team.

The visa can last for 5 years before needing to extend it. There is no limit on how many times the visa can be extended if the eligibility requirements are met. After 5 years it may be possible to apply to settle permanently in the UK.


A Skilled Worker visa is granted by the Home Office (UKVI) when: 

How to apply depends on whether an applicant is applying from outside the UKextending their current visa, or switching from a different visa.


With effect from 21st May 2021, any individual who will be undertaking research activities, at PhD level or above, in one of the Academic Subjects/Fields of Research relevant to ATAS, (the same as for students) will be required to obtain a free of charge ATAS certificate before they can apply for a visa to work in the UK.

Complete the ATAS checker to determine if an ATAS certificate is required. The HECoS mapping tool (Office document, 100kB) may be helpful if you are not familiar with CAH codes (the mapping tool links HECoS codes to the correct CAH code) along with the ATAS guide (PDF, 434kB)

The ATAS certificate requirement - decision tree (PDF, 458kB) details the nationalities, SOC codes and CAH codes that apply to ATAS.

Applying for the visa

An applicant can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day they are due to start work in the UK. As part of the application they may need an appointment to prove their identity and provide documents.

Once the application is complete and all documents are provided (via appointment if necessary), a decision should be made within:

Getting an appointment to prove identity and to submit documents can take time so start dates should be realistic to reflect this.

Further Information

Full detailed guidance on the skilled worker visa can be found on the Home Office pages

Should Faculties/Departments/Schools wish to employ an applicant under the Skilled Worker visa route they should contact the Staff Immigration Team at the earliest opportunity. 

Last updated 8/1/2024