Skilled Worker Visa Salary Rates Set To Increase

Those in the UK under the Skilled Worker route, or looking to apply in this route, may be happy to know that the general salary thresholds for the route are to increase from 12 April 2023. This is likely due to the fact that wages are rising, as is the national minimum wage (from £9.50 to £10.42 in April 2023). However, it is yet to be seen whether these increases make sponsoring workers in this route less attractive for employers.

The Statement of Changes (HC1160), published on 09 March 2023, sets out that from 12 April 2023, these rates are to change. This blog will set out these upcoming changes.

What are the changes to the general salary thresholds? 

There are a number of ‘tradable points’ options set out in the Immigration Rules. The particular tradable points an applicant intends to rely upon will determine the relevant rate of pay. For each option, an applicant must be paid the highest of the following:

  1. The relevant general threshold;
  2. The going rate for the role; and
  3. £10.10 per hour, if applicable (note the upcoming increase below).

The going rate will depend on the occupation code for the role as set out in Appendix Skilled Occupations.

Option A: 

Applicants need to show that their salary meets the general salary threshold of £26,200 per annum, 100% of the going rate for the role, and £10.75 per hour.

Options B and C – Educational qualifications

Options B and C apply to those who hold PhDs. Option B applies to PhDs held in a subject relevant to the job role, and Option C applies to those who have PhDs in STEM subjects.

For Option B, Applicants need to show that their salary meets the general salary threshold of£23,580 per annum, 90% of the going rate for the role, and £10.75 per hour. For Option C, Applicants need to show that they meet the general salary threshold £23,580 per annum, 80% of the going rate for the role, and £10.75 per hour.

Option D – Shortage occupation list 

Occupations on the shortage occupation list can apply under Option D. From 12 April 2023, Applicants need to show that their salary meets the threshold of £20,960 per annum, 80% of the going rate for the role, and £10.75 per hour.

Option E – New entrants

A new entrant to the labour market may be paid a salary which equals or exceeds both £20,480 per year, £10.10 per annum and 70% of the going rate for the occupation. From 12 April 2023, the general salary threshold will be increased to £20,960 per annum and £10.75 per hour.

Option F – Jobs listed in health or education occupations 

From 12 April 2023, the general salary threshold will be increased to £20,960 per annum. There are also changes to the going rates.

What are the changes to the going rates?

Currently, the going rates are set out in Appendix Skilled Occupations and are based on a 39 hour work week. This means that the going rate must be pro-rated based on the number of hours the applicant is actually contracted to work. From 12 April 2023, the going rates in Appendix Skilled Occupations will be based on a 37.5 work week. The new going rates are set out in the Statement of Changes.

Given that often applicants are contracted to work 37.5 hours per week, this could make things more straightforward to calculate the going rate, rather than having to pro-rate it.

What if I work more than 48 hours per week?

Currently, the Home Office will only consider an applicant’s salary based on 48 hours per week towards the salary thresholds. Therefore, working more than 48 hours per week will not assist applicants to meet this requirement.

From 12 April 2023, this will still be the case unless the applicant is being sponsored to work a pattern where the regular hours are not the same each week, resulting in uneven pay:

  1. work in excess of 48 hours in some weeks can be considered towards the salary thresholds, providing the average over a regular cycle (which can be less than, but not more than, 17 weeks) is not more than 48 hours a week; and
  2. any unpaid rest weeks will count towards the average when considering whether the salary thresholds are met; and
  3. any unpaid rest weeks will not count as absences from employment for the purpose of paragraph 9.30.1 in Part 9 of these rules.

What if my CoS was assigned before 12 April 2023?

The Statement of Changes, HC 1160, states that:

“The following paragraphs shall take effect on 12 April 2023. In relation to those changes, if an application for entry clearance or leave to remain has been made using a certificate of sponsorship issued before 12 April 2023, such applications will be decided in accordance with the Immigration Rules in force on 11 April 2023:…”

Therefore, the old salary thresholds will apply to applications where the CoS was assigned to the applicant before 12 April 2023.

How much must I be paid to settle as a Skilled Worker?

Once in the Skilled Worker route, applicants will be on a route to settlement. They must have spent a continuous period of 5 years in the UK on this basis (or in a permitted combination of routes). To settle, a Skilled Worker’s salary must be at least £25,600 per year and at least the going rate for the occupation code. However, as above, this will increase to £26,200 on 12 April 2023.

There are only two exceptions to this. If an exception applies, an applicant’s salary must be at least £20,480 (£20,960 from 12 April 2023) per year and at least the going rate.

Exception 1: the role is on the shortage occupation or a health or education occupation code

Exception 2: if the 5-year qualifying period for settlement includes time as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant in which the applicant was sponsored for a job in one of the following occupation codes:

  • 2111 Chemical scientists
  • 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113 Physical scientists
  • 2114 Social and humanities scientists
  • 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2150 Research and development managers
  • 2311 Higher education teaching professionals

This means that new entrants must receive an increase in their salary to settle, if they are below the minimum threshold of £25,600 (or £26,200 if applying after 12 April 2023) and do not fall within one of the above exceptions.

Contact our Immigration Solicitors

For expert advice and assistance in relation to an application in the Skilled Worker category, please contact our immigration solicitors on 020 8240 9018 or via the enquiry form on our website.

Can A Skilled Worker Delay Their Work Start Date?

Moving to a different country for a new job is very exciting but also requires a lot of planning and organisation. No matter how organised a person can be, experience shows things may not always go according to plan! In this post, we discuss when a Skilled Worker can delay their work start date, the 28 day rule and the responsibilities of a Skilled Worker Sponsor.

Where can I find my work start date?

You can find your work start date on your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), which you can request from your Sponsor. This is a mandatory document that you will need before you can apply for entry clearance (if you are outside the UK) or permission to stay (if you are inside the UK).

Your Sponsor will choose the start and end date on your CoS. Make sure to communicate with your Sponsor so they can choose a date which allows you time to make a well-prepared entry clearance/permission to stay application and to relocate to the UK.  You should consider application processing times from where you are applying and whether any priority services are available.

Why is my work start date important?

You can only make an application for entry clearance / permission to stay within 3 months of your intended work start date. CoS can only be assigned with a work start date of no more than 3 months in advance.

When do I actually have to start working (the 28 day rule)?

Once you have been granted entry clearance/permission to stay you must start working within 28 days of whichever is latest:

  • The start day on your CoS (the Home Office will take account of any changes reported by your employer using a sponsor note, see below);
  • The “valid from” date on your entry clearance vignette (that’s the sticker in your passport which is your visa);
  • If you entered the UK without entry clearance through the Creative Worker concession, the date you were granted permission to enter; or
  • The date you were informed of the grant of your entry clearance or permission to stay.

This means that if your work start date is delayed by less than 28 days from the relevant date, you do not have to do anything. However, if you need to delay your work start date by more than 28 days, your Sponsor will need to consider what action they wish to take.

What happens if I need to delay my work start date beyond 28 days?

Your Sponsor is required to report a change in work start date to the Home Office. They can do this in two ways depending on the stage at which the start date changes.

If you have not yet applied for entry clearance/permission to stay, your Sponsor can add a sponsor note to the CoS. This should set out the new intended work start date and any reasons for delay.

If you have already applied for entry clearance/permission to stay, but you have not yet received a decision from the Home Office, your Sponsor must report the change using the “report migrant activity” function in the sponsor management system (SMS).

What happens if I cannot start working within the relevant period of 28 days?

If you cannot start working within the period of 28 days from the relevant date your Sponsor has two options:

  • If they want to keep sponsoring you, they must report the new work start date to the Home Office with reasons for your delayed start.
  • The other option is that they may choose to stop sponsoring you.

Whichever option your Sponsor chooses, they must report this by the end of 10 working days after the 28-day period using the “report migrant activity” function in the SMS.

What is a “valid reason” for a delay?

Examples of valid reasons include:

  • Travel disruption due to natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic;
  • You are obliged to complete your notice period for your previous employer, if you are in the UK check that your conditions of stay allow you to do this;
  • You need an exit visa to leave your country of residence and administrative delays meant that you did not get it on time;
  • Illness, bereavement or compelling family or personal circumstances.

This is not an exhaustive list and the Home office will consider each case on its own merits. We recommend that full reasons are provided to enhance the chance of the Home Office accepting the reasons for the delay.

What if the Home Office decides that I do not have a “valid reason” for the delay?

The Home Office may cancel your permission to stay if they decide that you do not have a valid reason for the delay, in which case your Sponsor will have to stop sponsoring you within 10 working days of the decision.

What options do I have if my entry clearance / permission is cancelled?

If your entry clearance / permission  to stay is cancelled you may challenge this through administrative review or judicial review. Administrative review is a process where you can challenge the Home Office’s decision on the ground that it was wrongly decided because it contained one or more case work errors. Judicial review is a process where you can challenge the Home Office’s decision on the ground that it was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper.

Alternatively, your employer may have to allocate you a new CoS and you will have to make a fresh application. Our immigration solicitor can advise you on which option is right for you and the merits of your case.