If you have come to the UK on a Skilled Worker Visa, you might eventually decide that you want to settle down and make this your home. Perhaps you have started a lucrative career, met your partner, bought a home and started a family. When all of the pieces are falling into place, the last thing you want is for an issue with your immigration status to upset the apple cart.
The time limit for a Skilled Worker Visa is five years. After this time, you can either leave the country, apply for a new visa, or apply for something known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). If you are able to secure ILR, you will be on firm footing in the UK. It is also a popular route towards settlement through naturalisation. If you’re curious about the path from a Skilled Worker Visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain, read on.
The Skilled Worker Visa replaced the Tier 2 (General) visa in 2020. It is now the main type of employment visa in the UK. To be eligible for this visa category, you need to be working in a skilled role that is in demand in the UK. It is a points-based system and you will need to achieve at least 70 points to be eligible.
The mandatory skilled worker requirement is as follows:
- A job offer from a sponsored licence
- Proficient in English
- Job offer is at the skill level of RQF3 or above
These three factors add up to 50 points, and you then need to gain a further 20 points from the following requirements:
- Salary of £20,480 to £23,039 – 0 points
- Salary of £23,040 to £25,599 – 10 points
- Salary of £26,200 or above – 20 points
- Job in a shortage occupation – 20 points
- PhD in a subject relevant to the job – 10 points
- PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job – 20 points
This visa category relies on you having a job offer from an A-rated sponsor. This means you cannot come to the UK prospectively to look for you, you have to find a role with an eligible employer before you apply.
Indefinite leave to remain means that you are settled in the UK. It means that the Home Office has permitted you the right to live, work and study in the UK for an indefinite term. While a visa will typically have specific time spans and terms attached to it, IRL is more flexible. This means that you will be free to switch jobs or return to studying without worrying about it impacting your visa status.
A Skilled Worker Visa will depend on the length of the contract with your employer. The maximum length of time you can stay in the UK on a single Skilled Worker Visa is five years. After this time, you will have to switch to a new visa category, leave the country, or apply for a settlement route.
If you change jobs while you are on a skilled worker visa, you will need to apply for a new visa. Even if you are with the same employer, your job category may change, and this needs to be reflected on your visa. Failure to do so could jeopardise future visa applications.
Yes, a skilled worker will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years of living in the UK. If you switched from a student visa to a skilled worker visa, you won’t be eligible to apply for ILR sooner as this time does not count towards your time in the UK. This will enable you to be free from your visa restrictions and move jobs much more easily.
To be eligible for ILR if you are currently on a Skilled Worker visa, you need to meet the following requirements:
- Have lived and worked in the UK for five years.
- Meet the salary requirements
- Continue to be needed in your job and continue to meet the salary requirements after you have secured IRL. Your sponsor will need to confirm this.
You don’t have to meet the language requirements by taking a test, as you will have already met this requirement when you applied for your Skilled Worker Visa.
You will, however, be required to take and pass the Life in the UK test. This test is 25 questions long and you need to achieve a mark of 75% or above to pass. You have 45 minutes to complete the test. You will need to book your test and pay £50 for each booking. There is no limit on the number of times you take the test, but you will need to pay each time.
The earliest you will be able to submit your application is 28 days before you have been in the UK for five years. It costs £2,404 for each application, and you can include your partner and children on the same application, if they are also eligible.
It takes around 6 months to receive a decision on your application. During this time, you cannot leave the country. Your application will be withdrawn if you leave the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man during this time.
If you need a decision sooner, you can pay an additional £500 and get your decision in 5 working days. For £800, you can get a decision the next working day, or in two working days if your biometrics appointment is at the weekend.
If you have a complex case and need support preparing your application, we can help. Our expert UK immigration lawyers can help to guide you through the Skilled Worker/ Indefinite Leave to Remain process to ensure a positive outcome for you and your family.