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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.

You have to make sure that you gain the points under mandatory points.  Under mandatory points, a UK employer must sponsor you, the job needs to be on the Skilled Worker occupation list, and you must meet the English language requirements.  Under tradeable points you have various options on how you can make up the additional twenty points to meet the requirement of 70 points.

Those who come under the "new entrant" salary rate include those on student visas in the UK switching to a Skilled Worker visa, and those under 26 years of age.  The minimum salary based on a 39 hour week (in most cases) excluding breaks, has to be at least £20,480 per annum or thirty percent lower than the Skilled worker visa going rate, whichever is higher.   

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
Applicant is a new entrant to the labour market (as designated by the MAC)Tradeable20
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 Defined 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).


Skilled Worker Visa Appropriate Salary

Skilled Worker visa applicants must have a job offer which pays an appropriate salary. The appropriate salary varies depending on the going rate for the job and whether the applicant is considered to be a new entrant, or on the Shortage Occupation List or comes under the experienced worker category or comes under some other type of worker under the points system. Those who come under "new entrant" can be paid at the rate of £20,480 per annum or 70 per cent of the going rate, whichever is higher. 

Most will need to be paid at the experienced worker 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 depending on scoring on the points system.  Health care workers, for example come under the NHS pay scale.

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 4 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 three years stay under the Skilled Worker visa category new entrant rate.     


English Language

Skilled Worker visa applicants must come under one of the following to meet the English Language requirements:

  • 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 an UKVI 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 Financial Requirements

Most Skilled Worker sponsors guarantee their prospective employees’ financial requirements 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 employer does not provide a guarantee for the financial requirement then Skilled Worker visa applicants must prove, with bank statements or other documents, that they have personal funds of at least £1,270, and have had this money continuously for a 28 day period ending no more than 31 days before the date of the Skilled Worker visa application. The previous requirement under the Tier 2 visa scheme was to show that the applicant had the smaller amount in funds of £945 available for a period of ninety days.

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's team of specialists has over thirty years of experience in international visa services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the UK. We work in conjunction with OISC registered advisers who can submit your UK sponsor licence application and visa application to UK Visas and Immigration at 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