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Skilled Worker Visa Points System

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Skilled Worker visa applicants must score 70 points on the UK visa points test to be eligible for a visa. The table below, based on the new points based system from 1 December 2020, gives a detailed breakdown of how points are allocated for the Skilled Worker visa category.   The employer needs to firstly have a sponsor licence and have assigned a certificate of sponsorship to the overseas worker.

This guide is split into the following sections:

Summary of Skilled Worker Visa Points Requirements

Offer of job by approved sponsorMandatory20
Job at appropriate skill levelMandatory20
Speaks English at required levelMandatory10
Salary of £20,480 to £23,039 or at least 80% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)Tradeable0
Salary of £23,040 to £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)Tradeable10
Salary of £25,600 or above or at least the going rate for the profession (whichever is higher)Tradeable20
Job in a shortage occupation as designated by the Migration Advisory CommitteeTradeable20
Education qualification: PhD in a subject relevant to the jobTradeable10
Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the jobTradeable20


Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

In order to apply for a UK Skilled Worker visa, you must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from the employer who has offered you a job. The employer must have a sponsor licence and have been issued with a CoS.  The CoS and visa conditions are as follows:

  • Your Skilled Worker visa application will be made no more than 3 months after the CoS is issued, and you will start work no more than 3 months after your visa application is made.
  • The job in question meets the minimum skill level requirement, which should be checked in the Skilled Workers going rate.  This means it must usually be Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 3 or above, or RQF level 4 or above if it is on the shortage occupations list, or it is in certain creative fields such as dance, theatre and opera, and television and film.

There are two types of Certificate of Sponsorship: Defined and Undefined. Those prospective employees based outside the UK will need a Defined certificate of sponsorship.

  • Defined Certificates of Sponsorship are for prospective employees who are based abroad, and planning to work in the UK. The exception is for partners of Tier 4 visa holders who wish to switch to a Skilled Worker visa. These applicants do need a restricted certificate of sponsorship.
  • Undefined Certificates of Sponsorship are for prospective employees who are already in the UK (except dependent family members of Tier 4 visa holders) or are outside of the UK and will be working in a role which pays £159,600 a year or more, or will be working in an inward investment post.


Defined CoS Points

Please note again that this is only relevant in a situation where you need to employ someone resident outside the UK, or employ someone who needs to apply for a visa from outside the UK for some other reason.  To be able to obtain a Defined CoS the employer needs to gain a certain number of points.  However, this is certainly not guaranteed to happen.  As can be seen below those in the shortage occupation list or in a PhD level occupation, or with a high salary gain the most points.

Skilled Worker Visa Appropriate Salary

Skilled Worker visa applicants must have a job offer which pays an appropriate salary. The appropriate salary varies by job, and by your level of experience. In general those who come under one of the concessions can be paid at the rate of £20,480 per annum, while most will need to be paid at a rate of a least £25,600, or the appropriate rate based on the SOC (Standard Occupational Classification) code for the job in the Going Rates for skilled workers, whichever is higher.  Lower rates than the Going Rate can be paid in some circumstances if you gain enough points anyway.

Applicants come under the new entrant salary rate if all of the following conditions apply:

  • Aged 25 or under, or has recently been on a degree level course or higher in the UK and is switching from a student visa to a Skilled Worker visa (no age restrictions).
  • The combined total for periods of stays under Skilled Worker visa as a new entrant should not be more than 3 years.  For example if you have been in the UK already on a Tier 2 General visa for one year (under any salary rate) then you can apply for an additional two years stay under the Skilled Worker visa category.     


English Language

Skilled Worker visa applicants must meet the English Language requirement, meaning they must meet at least one of the following conditions. Applicants meet the English language requirement if they:

  • Are a citizen of a majority English speaking country (see table below)
  • Hold a degree which is equivalent to a UK Bachelor's degree or higher, which was taught or researched in English (UK NARIC evaluation required if not taught in a majority English speaking Country)
  • Have passed a recognized English language test with at least a B1 score Council of Europe’s common European framework for language and learning.
  • Have previously met the English Language requirement during a grant of leave in the UK
  • Qualify under transitional arrangements (this is rare)

Majority English Language Speaking Countries outside UK to meet Skilled Worker visa English language requirements.

Antigua and Barbuda



St Lucia




St Vincent and the Grenadines

The Bahamas


New Zealand

Trinidad and Tobago



St Kitts and Nevis

The United States of America


Approved English Language Tests for Skilled Worker visa at B1 or above include:

You must have reached the required level in all areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening. MUST BE AN UKVI VERSION OF THE TEST



Integrated Skills in English (level B1, B2, C1, or C2)

Passes in reading, writing, listening, and speaking

Graded Examinations in Spoken English (level B1)

Grade 5

IELTS for UKVI (level B1)

4.0 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking

IELTS for UKVI (level B2)

5.5 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking

IELTS for UKVI (level C1)

7.0 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking

IELTS for UKVI (level C2)

8.5 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking


Skilled Worker Visa Maintenance Requirements

Most Skilled Worker sponsors guarantee their prospective employees’ maintenance by stating on the Certificate of Sponsorship that they will cover the applicant's maintenance and accommodation for the first month of employment in the UK. Only 'A rated' sponsors have this option which covers the vast majority of employers with a sponsor licence.   

If their employee does not guarantee maintenance then Skilled Worker visa applicants must prove, with bank statements or other documents, that they have personal funds of at least £945, and have had this money continuously for a 90 day period ending no more than 31 days before the date of the Skilled Worker application.

Applicants are exempt from this condition if they already have entry clearance, leave to enter, or leave to remain under a Skilled Worker visa.

Further information, help, and advice has been in the immigration business for over thirty years and has helped thousands of people live and work in the UK from around the World. We represent clients under Section 84 of the 1999 immigration act and can submit your UK visa application to the Home Office.

For more information and advice on UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at