The Skilled Worker route is very similar to Tier 2 (General), the significant changes are detailed on the following pages.
Colleagues will see the same process for requesting a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from SIT, and will need to report to SIT using the arrivals and changes & leavers forms as you have always done. The Initial CoS application form has seen significant changes, with smaller updates to the Extension CoS application form.
There will be no changes to the cost of the CoS, Immigration Skills Charge, visa application or NHS Surcharge (which was increased by the Home Office in October 2020). The University reimbursement recommendations on visa costs, and the visa loan scheme will remain in place.
RTW fields in CoreHR will not be updated until later in 2021.
Impact on current Tier 2 (General) visa holders
We do not need to take any action for our current Tier 2 visa holders. Their visa conditions remain the same.
If we need to extend their visa or undertake a change of employment, this will be done under the Skilled Worker requirements, and they will be granted a Skilled Worker visa. Changes to an individuals salary, will need to meet the Skilled Worker requirements.
They will no longer be limited to a maximum period of 6 years sponsorship, or be subject to a 12 month cooling off period. Transitional arrangements are in place for Tier 2 visa holders applying for ILR and for extending their visa status where the current salary includes allowances.
Tier 2 (General) CoS issued prior to 1 December 2020
All CoS issued before 01 December 2020 to individuals who have not yet applied for their visa or have an application pending, will not be affected by the changes. SIT Advisers have been working hard to update these CoS, including additional information to confirm that the Skilled Worker requirements have been met. Applications granted on or after the 1 December will result in a Skilled Worker visa being issued.
If anyone receives queries from the Home Office about their application they should urgently contact their SIT Adviser.
Resident Labour Market Test is removed
The most beneficial change is the removal of the Resident Labour Market test, this eliminates the need to advertise for 28 calendar days in two places, or to retain evidence of this. We are sure this will be welcomed by everyone!
A broader requirement to only issue a CoS for a ‘genuine vacancy’ is now included. This means we must ensure
- the individual performs the specific duties and responsibilities listed on the CoS
- the role does not include dissimilar or predominatly lower skilled duties
- the role is appropriate to the University, business model, scope and plan
The policy gives some examples where a vacancy would not be considered to be ‘genuine’. which include: where duties in a job description have been exaggerated or incorrectly listed in order to make the role look like it is eligible for sponsorship; where the job adverts have requirements that are inappropriate for the job, for example a language skill which is not relevant; or where the job has been primarily created to enable an overseas worker to come the UK.
Evidence the applicant meets the qualification requirements described in the job description continue. The guidance on qualification wording remains in place.
Roles skilled to RQF Level 3 (A-Level) can be sponsorsed
A wider range of occupations can be sponsored, subject to meeting the salary thresholds, including but not limited to:
- Laboratory Technician
- Engineering Technicians
- Electrical Technicians
- IT Technicians
- IT User support
- Counsellors and Career Advisors
- Human Resources Officers
- Office Managers
- Personal Assistants
- Conference Manager
- Graphic Designers
Research and lecturer roles that we have sponsored under Tier 2 should easily meet the Skilled Worker requirements.
Switching into Skilled Worker
There are much wider options to switch into the Skilled Worker route from with the UK, including applicants who hold a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme or Tier 5 (GAE) Sponsored Researcher visa. The only visa routes that do not permit the applicant to apply within the UK are the Visitor routes, Short-term student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, and Domestic Worker.
We encourage departments, faculty and colleges to certify maintenance, so that applicants do not need to show they hold funds to support themselves and their family. The maintenance requirements have changed to £1,270 main applicant, £285 for a dependant partner, £315 for the first dependant child, and £200 for each other dependant child. If we do not certify maintenance, the applicant has to submit bank statements showing they have held these funds for a reduced period of 28 days. Electronic bank statements no longer need to be stamped by their bank.
Regular HMRC Checks
The PAYE reference number must now be listed on the CoS, and the Home Office will undertake regular checks with HMRC to ensure individuals are being paid at least the salary stated on the CoS, or in line with any change in salary which has been reported. If it is found we are paying an individual less than we have stated, compliance action will be taken, and in serious cases where an individual’s salary falls below the salary requirements their visa will be cancelled. Checks may also be undertaken when an individual applies for settlement.
It is essential that SIT is notified of any change in basic salary, outside of university-wide general pay uplifts, within 5 working days using the changes & leavers form.
Any proposed salary reduction must be discussed with SIT in advance.
In general the salary will need to meet or exceed the ‘going rate’ specific to the occupation, and £25,600 per year.
If the applicant is a ‘New Entrant’ this is reduced to 70% of the ‘going rate’ or £20,480 per year, whichever is higher.
We are confident that roles that we currently sponsor under Tier 2 will continue to meet the salary requirement.
Individuals can be sponsored as a ‘New Entrant’ for up to a maximum of 4 years if
- they are under the age 26 when applying
- they hold or last held (within the past 2 years) a Tier 4/Student visa and they have completed a UK bachelor, masters degree, or at least 12 months study towards a UK PhD
- the job offer is a postdoctoral position in codes including 2311 for higher education teaching professionals or 2119 used by the University for all postdoctoral researcher positions
- they are switching within the UK from a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa
Tradeable points allowing for a lower salary
Some occupations can have a lower salary because
- the role is on the Shortage Occupation List
- individual holds a PhD in a subject relevant to the job (for certain occupations)
- individual holds a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job (for certain occupations)
An overseas PhD will require UKNARIC confirmation it meets the recognised standard of a UK PhD.
Only guaranteed basic gross pay can be relied upon to meet the salary requirements. Allowances can no longer be included, such as a housing allowance.
Is permitted, but is restricted by the requirements on salary.
Here to help
We appreciate the changes are complicated, so please do check individual cases with SIT Advisers. It is helpful if you can provide a job description, details of the successful applicant and salary to be offered.
- Rose Boadu and Solveig Alsaker (MPLS and Social Science Divisions).
- Angelina Pelova and James Galloway (Humanities, Medical Sciences GLAM UAS, Continuing Education and the colleges)
Please see our training page for Skilled Worker training sessions that will take place during December and January.