Skilled Worker visa
A skilled worker visa allows non-UK / Irish nationals to come to or stay in the UK to undertake an eligible job for the University of Surrey.
This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General Work visa).
This type of visa will allow you, along with your family members (partner and children under 18) to live and work in the UK. This visa type can lead to settlement after 5 years which allows you to then stay permanently in the UK.
EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals
Free movement and the transitional arrangements in place for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals ended at 11pm on 31 December 2020.
European nationals resident in the UK on or prior to 31 December 2020 were required to apply for Pre-Settled or Settled status before the 30 June 2021. European nationals arriving from 1 January 2021, who have not been resident in the UK previously will require an appropriate visa, such as the Skilled Worker visa to work in the UK.
Irish nationals automatically have the right to live and work in the UK and do not require a visa.
Tier 2/Skilled Worker visa holder
- Individual already employed by the University: If a new appointment is offered to a current Tier 2 or Skilled Worker visa holder who is sponsored by the University of Surrey, the new role will be considered against the details of their current appointment. If the role is significantly different, or falls outside of the current sponsored SOC code then a new Skilled Worker visa will be required.
- The candidate will be unable to start their new role until their new visa is granted.
- Individual employed by an external organisation: A new Skilled Worker visa will be required with sponsorship from the University.
To qualify for a skilled worker visa you must meet several sponsorship requirements:
- You must have a job offer from the University
- The job you have been offered must be on the list of eligible occupations. Check if the job you are interested in might be sponsorable.
- The job must pay the minimum salary for the type of work you will be doing – whichever is highest: £26,200 per annum or the “going rate” for the type of work you’ll be doing. Check the going rates for all jobs eligible for a skilled worker visa.
- The University must issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) confirming details about yourself and the role you have been offered.
Sponsorship is usually provided inline with the duration of your contract. The University can provide initial sponsorship for up to 5 years. There is no limit to the time that can be spent sponsored under the Skilled Worker visa, but the University would ordinarily encourage staff to apply to stay permanently after 5 years of residence in the UK.
HR will need to obtain various documents from you to satisfy themselves that you are eligible for sponsorship and before they will issue a Certificate of Sponsorship.
English language requirement
See the Government guidance.
Proof of meeting the English language requirement will need to be included with your visa application and will be checked by HR before you apply.
You must prove that you can read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1.
You can satisfy the English Language requirement in one of a number of ways depending on your circumstances:
- you are from an English speaking country
Nationals from the following countries do not need to prove their knowledge of English:
Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA.
- you have a GCSE / A Level or Scottish Highers in English studied at school in the UK before you were 18
You will need to provide your qualification certificates to demonstrate the English language requirement.
- by passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT)
You can take an approved English language test to prove your knowledge of English.
It is important that you take the correct test for your application. You should request IELTS General Training.
See Home Office guidance on the English language test.
The University does not reimburse the cost of taking this test.
- you have been awarded a degree from a Higher Education Institution where the course was entirely taught in English
If your bachelors, masters or PhD was awarded by a UK institution: the qualification does not need to be verified. You will need to provide your degree certificate to demonstrate the English language requirement.
If your bachelors, masters or PhD degree (or equivalent) was taught in English but awarded by an institution in: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago or USA, it will be accepted that it was taught in English but you will need to have the equivalent level of the qualification verified by UK ENIC (which was called UK NARIC until March 2021).
The degree certificate and the UK ENIC 'English proficiency' certificate (confirming your degree is equivalent to a UK degree) must be included in the visa application.
See below regarding applying for UK ENIC.
If the qualification was awarded by a country not listed above but was taught entirely in English: you will need a UK ENIC 'English proficiency' certificate which confirms both the level of English at which the degree was taught and the equivalent level of the qualification.
Again the degree certificate and the UK ENIC 'English proficiency' certificate must be included in the visa application.
See below regarding applying for UK ENIC.
Those who are required to have their qualification verified by UK ENIC (which was called UK NARIC until March 2021) can apply for verification online.
A fee of £140 + VAT is payable per application for verification of 'English proficiency'. UK ENIC charge a single fee of £140 + VAT whether applicants are submitting one or multiple qualifications for verification and will usually return decisions by post within ten days.
UK ENIC can also provide a 'PhD verification' certificate (or combined 'English proficiency' and 'PhD verification' certificate) but this is only required if the applicant is relying on 'tradeable points' based on their holding a PhD, or a PhD in a STEM subject, relevant to the role.
This will NOT normally be required for jobs offered by the University of Surrey.
When applying for verification to UK ENIC, you should be aware that you will be required to upload scanned copies of both your original degree certificate and your academic transcript.
If you are also required to have the fact that your qualification was taught in English verified, you must also submit a letter from the institution that awarded your qualification confirming that the qualification was taught entirely in English.
If any of the original documents are not in English, a certified translation will also need to be provided to UK ENIC.
Applicants should be aware that an application to UK ENIC does not guarantee that they will certify the level of the qualification or that it was taught in English. Where verification is not successful, the applicant will need to take and pass an approved English language test instead.
In some circumstances if may be quicker to undertake an English language test at an approved test centre as detailed above.
The University does not reimburse the cost of UK ENIC or the cost of obtaining certified translations.
Since May 2021, individuals who may take part in PhD level research in a number of academic areas (predominantly within the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences) will be required to obtain clearance via the Academic Technology Approval Scheme. This clearance is issued by the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO).
Certificates are free to obtain but they can take some time to clear and it is recommended that you apply at the earliest opportunity.
The ATAS requirement applies to both initial and extension Skilled Worker applications.
The following nationalities are exempt from this requirement:
- UK, EU/EEA and Swiss nationals
- nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, or the United States of America.
Your HR contact will make an assessment of the ATAS requirement and will work with the hiring manager and department to clarify. You will be advised of the ATAS requirement at the point of offer (if you are joining the University) or at the time we contact you regarding a skilled worker visa extension.
Your HR contact will provide full details of how to apply for your ATAS and what to include in your application.
If you are new to the university, we will not be able to issue your CoS until you have received your ATAS. Your ATAS certificate number will be confirmed in the notes of your CoS and you will need to provide proof of your certificate with your Skilled Worker Visa application.
Further details about ATAS clearances are on our ATAS pages.
If you are extending your visa and your ATAS certificate has not been received, we will issue the CoS and you will need to begin your Skilled Worker application to ensure you retain your right to remain in the country. Your visa will not be processed until your ATAS certificate has been.
Further details about ATAS clearances are on our ATAS pages.
You must provide proof that you have money available to you to support yourself and your family when you first arrive in the UK when applying for your Skilled Worker visa. Please see the government pages – money to support yourself). Proof of funds available is sometimes referred to as maintenance.
If you are unable to provide evidence of the required funds, please highlight this to your HR contact. In some circumstances, and with agreement from the hiring department, we may be able to certify maintenance.
If you have been in the UK for 12 months or longer on a valid visa you will not need to meet the maintenance requirement.
You will need to have a TB test if you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months from a country listed on the Government website. The list on this page provides details of approved test centres and the countries that require TB tests.
If your test shows that you do not have TB, you will be given a certificate which is valid for 6 months from the date of your x-ray. You should include this certificate with your UK visa application.
You must be tested at a clinic that has been approved by the Home Office. Some countries do not have approved test centres and you may need to travel to a neighbouring country.
The University does not pay for the cost of travel to and from test centres, or for the cost of the test.
The majority of our Skilled Worker sponsorable roles do not require a criminal record check.
The requirement does not apply to the Researcher (SoC code 2119) and Lecturer (SoC code 2311) roles sponsored most frequently by the University. If you are unsure please check the Government advice pages and liaise with your HR Contact.
Where the requirement does apply you will need to provide either an original or a scanned copy of a criminal record certificate from the relevant authority in any country in which you have been resident for 12 months or more (whether continuously or in total) in the past 10 years, while aged 18 or over. Any dependants who are over 18 years old must also meet this requirement. The Home Office provides contact details for the relevant authorities in different countries along with details of how to apply.
The University does not cover the cost of criminal record checks.
If you are a Student (Tier 4) visa holder you are eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker visa when you have either:
- completed over 12 months of a PhD course in the UK
- completed an undergraduate or graduate degree at a UK academic institution.
In addition, you must also have met the required qualifications specified in the job description before a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) can be issued.
Where a job description specifies that a PhD is required (and gives no provision for those who are close to completion or have relevant experience), a CoS cannot be issued unless you have actually been awarded a doctorate.
As part of the CoS application, one of the documents below must be provided:
1. Original certificate of award which clearly shows:
- student's full name
- title of the qualification/award
- name of the awarding body.
2. Original academic reference, on headed paper, from your academic institution which contains the following information:
- student's full name
- course title/award
- course duration
- date of completion of the course (unless the applicant is a DPhil/PhD student, in which case the letter must confirm that the applicant has been studying for more than one academic year)
- name of the awarding body
- the reason why an original certificate of award cannot be provided (where studies have been completed);
- that the certificate will be issued (where studies have been completed).
If, in the last 12 months before the date of your Skilled Worker visa application, you have received an award from a government or International Scholarship Agency to cover both your tuition fees and living costs for study in the UK, you must provide written consent from the funder for you to remain in the UK.
If you are a Student (Tier 4) visa holder and you are waiting for the outcome of an application to switch into the Skilled Worker visa route and this was submitted before your Student (Tier 4) visa expired, you can fill a full-time permanent vacancy up to 3 months before course completion date as long as the following conditions are met:
- the Student is studying a full-time course of study at degree level or above with a higher education provider with a track record of compliance
- the application as a Skilled Worker was made when the applicant had permission as a Student
- a decision has not been made on the Skilled Worker application, or where a decision has been made, any Administrative Review against a refusal of that application has not been finally determined
- you have successfully completed a course at degree level or above and you are employed in the role for which you are applying under Skilled Worker.
If this is not the case, then a temporary contract of employment should be issued to the individual until their work visa has been granted. You must have completed your study (this must be confirmed as per your term dates for undergraduate degrees. If completing a PhD, we need confirmation that you have submitted your PhD and are unable to make further amendments).
We endeavour to apply for your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) as soon as we are satisfied that you have met all of the eligibility requirements and have provided proof of English language and ATAS clearance (where required). The earliest we can issue a CoS is 3 months before your start date or expiry of your current Skilled Worker visa.
Applying for CoS for candidates travelling from outside of the UK takes a little longer than for those switching or extending within the UK.
You should typically expect to receive your CoS within a week of having provided us with everything we need.
You will be issued a copy of your Certificate of Sponsorship.
HR make every effort to ensure all details entered onto the Home Office system are correct, but sometimes mistakes are made. Please do check the details provided to you and let your HR contact know if anything needs to be updated / amended.
Your CoS includes a unique reference number which you must use for your visa application.
A CoS is normally issued for the length of your contract. If you are offered a permanent contract, the maximum we can sponsor is 5 years. At this point you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
See details of costs.
You must submit your visa application within 3 months of the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) being issued, otherwise the CoS automatically expires.
Apply for your Skilled Worker visa (outside UK).
Extend your current Skilled Worker visa.
Apply to switch from another visa or sponsor (in UK)
You can apply for a Skilled Worker visa from within the UK as long as you do not currently hold one of the following:
- Visitor visa
- Short-term Student visa
- Parent of a Child Student visa
- Seasonal Worker visa
- Domestic Worker visa
- Leave Outside the Immigration Rules (LOTR)
Once the full visa application, including online application, payment of fee, and registering of biometric details have been completed, processing times are normally:
- 3 weeks when applying outside the UK
- 8 weeks within the UK.
Priority services, at additional cost, are available.
The University does not normally pay the cost of priority services unless this is agreed with the hiring department and is required due to the urgency of the post.
If you wish to pursue a priority service, for overseas applications information on priority services will be detailed by the visa application centre.
In the UK this is either a super priority (next working day decision) or priority service (5 working days). The decision timeframe is from the date you submit your biometric details – not the date you submit your application.
Once a decision is made, it can take another 1–2 weeks for the:
- passport containing the entry vignette to be returned to the applicant overseas
- the new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to be posted to the individual's UK address.
Your HR contact will work with you and your hiring manager to agree a realistic start date taking into consideration your individual circumstances and visa application processing times.
Any proposed change in start date once the CoS has been provided should be discussed immediately with your HR contact - amendments can be made to the CoS before you submit your visa application.
Once your visa has been granted you must arrive in the UK within 28 days of the date on your vignette or the start date requested on your CoS – whichever is latest.
If you are later than 28 days, your visa will be cancelled, and we will need to start the application process again.
Skilled Worker visa holders are sponsored to work in a specific role but can also undertake ‘supplementary employment’ with the same or a different employer alongside their main role, as long as they are still working in their main sponsored role and the supplementary work is:
- the same type of work, and at the same professional level, as the main role and falls under the same job code, or in a shortage occupation
- outside their normal working hours and does not interfere with their main role
- no more than 20 hours per week.
As part of a right to work check before any supplementary work starts, the visa holder will need to present a copy of their Skilled Worker CoS details to HR.
Skilled Worker visa holders are permitted to undertake voluntary activities (such as helping with a charity, or singing in a choir, for example) but this is not the same as unpaid work.
Activities would only be considered to be volunteering if the following conditions are met:
- the individual is not fulfilling a role normally undertaken by staff
- there is no obligation on the individual to attend at particular times or have set hours
- there is no payment, only reimbursement for reasonable travel and meals expenses actually incurred.
If there are defined hours, extensive training, required attendance, and someone else would have to be found to cover the activities if an individual did not turn up, this is unpaid work, not volunteering.
Activities, other than volunteering, which do not meet the supplementary employment requirements are not permitted, whether paid or unpaid.
Skilled Worker visa holders are permitted to undertake a course of study in the UK without prior approval from the Home Office; however, those undertaking studies in science, engineering, and technology subjects must check whether the course subject will mean they are required to first obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate.
If you hold a sponsored Skilled Worker visa and you change your immigration status and no longer require sponsorship, this must be reported to the Home Office. Examples of a change in immigration status include where a visa holder has applied for and obtained:
- a different UK visa
- Pre-Settled or Settled status as the family member of a European national
- Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
- British (or European) citizenship.
Please contact HROperations@surrey.ac.uk to confirm your new status. HR may request to see original copies of your documents or request a digital share code from you to allow us to conduct a right to work check on your new status.
Reductions in salary below the Skilled Worker salary thresholds and unpaid leave of longer than 4 weeks are permitted in cases of:
- maternity leave
- paternity leave
- shared-parental leave
- adoption leave
- sick leave
- authorised absence to assist with a national or international humanitatian or environmental crisis overseas
- taking part in strike action as part of a legally organised industrial action.
These absences must be reported to the Home Office by HR. If you are at all concerned, please do not hesitate to contact HROperations@surrey.ac.uk.
Congratulations! You will be given either:
- a sticker (called a vignette) which is added to your passport if you gave your biometric information at a visa application centre. This stamp is usually valid for 90 days. If your visa is valid for more than 6 months, you will be issued a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which you will collect once you arrive in the UK
- a digital status if you used a smart phone app to confirm your identity when you applied for your visa. This allows you to view your immigration status online.
Once the visa application has been submitted, or after the Skilled Worker visa has been granted, you must not travel to the UK earlier than the issue date printed on your vignette or stated on your electronic immigration status.
When you arrive, HR will request confirmation of your date of entry. This may be in the form of a stamp on your vignette on your passport. If you arrived via eGates, we will need to see confirmation of boarding cards / flight bookings.
If you have arrived as a visitor before the date of your skilled worker visa validity date, you will need to leave the Common Travel Area (UK, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man and Ireland) and re-enter the UK within the validity of your vignette. If you do not do this, your visa will be void and you will be required to leave the UK and start your application again.
If you have a vignette in your passport, please do not use the eGates and instead go through the manned border checkpoints. You will receive a stamp on your vignette which confirms your visa is valid.
If you are unable to go through a manned border checkpoint, please ensure you retain evidence of arrival (flight tickets / boarding cards).
If you have an eVisa – you will be able to use the eGates, but again you must retain evidence of your arrival in the UK (flight tickets / boarding cards).
On your first day, you will be required to meet with HR (either online or in-person depending on whether you have a vignette or an eVisa) to allow us to conduct a full right to work check.
If you have a vignette, we will take copies of the vignette and your passport.
You must also collect and present your BRP to HR before your vignette stamp expires or within ten days of arriving in the UK – whichever date is the earliest.
You will receive instructions from the Home Office about how / where to collect your BRP. If you do not collect this within the time frame stated, you may be fined by UK Visas and Immigration.
It is preferable that you collect your BRP before you start work, however, you may present this later if you are starting very soon after you arrive in the UK but you must return to HR to present your card once you have collected it so that we may take a copy.
As part of your right to work check, you must provide HR with a share code. You will need to request a code. HR will conduct a right to work check, confirm the photograph is a true likeness and any restrictions stated on your visa.
If you have an eVisa, you will be required to present us with a share code to allow us to conduct your right to work check. You will not receive a vignette sticker or a BRP. You will therefore be required to evidence your date of arrival.
If your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is lost or stolen, you must report this to the police and the Home Office. You will then need to apply for a new BRP within three months.
If your BRP is lost outside the UK, you will need to apply for a 'replacement BRP' visa in your passport to re-enter the UK before then applying to replace your BRP.
Double check everywhere before reporting a BRP as lost - you will not be able to use your BRP if you find it once reported lost or stolen as it is immediately cancelled. You must still apply for a new BRP.
Please refer to the Government pages for guidance on how to report a card lost or stolen.
A police reference is usually required in the case of loss or theft so please report the loss of your card to the local police before reporting it to the Home Office.
The process of reporting to the Home Office is different if you have lost your card in or outside of the UK.
You must apply for a replacement card within 3 months of reporting it lost or stolen, or you may face a fine of up to £1,000.
If the BRP was lost or stolen outside the UK you will need to apply for a ‘replacement BRP visa’ in your passport first to re-enter the UK, and then apply for a replacement BRP within 3 months after you return to the UK.
See details on the process: it is different if you have lost your card in or outside of the UK.
When issuing a Skilled Worker Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) the University will pay the following which will be charged back to the hiring department:
- CoS application fee £199
- Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) £364 for the first 12 months, followed by £182 for subsequent 6 month periods of employment.
The ISC is levied on employers who sponsor applicants under Skilled Worker to take up certain roles – few University roles are affected. This is typically applied to roles in professional services or support roles. The majority of roles we sponsor in faculties are for roles that are exempt from the ISC. HR will advise the hiring department when these costs become known.
When submitting your visa application online (after you have been issued a CoS) you and your dependants will have to pay the following:
- visa fee
- NHS surcharge
- biometric enrolment fee
- any fees for priority services you decide to use.
The Eligibility to Work Policy sets out which of these costs can be reclaimed as expenses and which the University can support you with via our Loan Scheme. Please be aware that the University does not reimburse for the cost of priority services, premium biometrics, enhanced service points, IELTS or Ecctis.
You will be able to claim the costs / and or apply for a loan for relevant fees once you have commenced employment with the University.
The table below provides a summary of the standard costs associated with a visa application made overseas. Please see government guidance for further information.
The cost, per applicant, is payable for the main applicant and each dependant (main applicant's partner, spouse or dependant child under 18).
If you are applying from outside the UK, the standard fee depends on whether you’ll be in the UK for up to 3 years or more than 3 years:
|Main applicant and each dependant*||£625 (up to 3 year visa) OR £1,235 (over 3 year visa**)|
|Immigration Health (NHS) Surcharge||£624 (per year) £470 applicant under the age of 18 (per year)|
** A Skilled Worker permission to enter application can be granted for a duration of up to 5 years.
The table below provides a summary of the standard costs associated with the visa application made within the UK. Please see government guidance for further information.
The cost, per applicant, is payable for the main applicant and each dependant (main applicant's partner, spouse or dependant child under 18) when submitting the visa application online.
If you are applying from inside the UK to extend, switch or update your visa, the standard fee depends on whether you will be in the UK for up to 3 years or more than 3 years:
|Main applicant and each dependant*||£719 (up to 3 year visa) OR £1,423 (over 3 year visa**)|
|Immigration Health (NHS) Surcharge – (IHS) payable per year, for the duration of the visa||£624 (per year)***|
*£470 per year for applicants under the age of 18 at the time of the application.
**A Skilled Worker permission to stay application can be granted for a duration of up to 5 years. IHS is payable for the duration of the visa as one payment.
***If the visa period includes part of a year that is 6 months or less, half the annual amount for Immigration Health Surcharge (for example £312) will be payable. If the period includes part of a year that is more than 6 months the full annual amount (£624) is payable.
You can calculate the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge using the Immigration Health Surcharge Calculator.
If a 'family group' visa application is being submitted for the main applicant and dependants, the visa application fees and NHS Surcharge will be charged as one combined fee which cannot be split across more than one payment card. Applicants may need to contact their bank before they pay the fee on their card to avoid this being stopped or delayed as an unusually large purchase.