Skilled Worker Route

Find out about eligibility and fee structure.

11 April 2024

Spring 2024 changes 

On 4 December 2023, the UK government announced changes to the immigration system which are now in effect. 

Key points for the Skilled Worker Route include: 

  • Increased the skilled worker salary threshold for new applications from 4 April 2024 by 50 per cent from £26,200 to £38,700.
  • Those already in the Skilled Worker Route before the immigration rules changes should be exempt from the new median salary levels when they change sponsor or settle. The Home Office would, however, expect their pay to progress at the same rate as resident workers; therefore, they would be subject to the updated 25th percentiles using the latest pay data when they next make an application to change employment, extend their stay, or settle. This is in line with normal practice.
  • When extending a visa the new salary thresholds are required, however, if extending before 1 December 2026 you may be able to meet the lower salary threshold of £29,000. 
  • The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is now £1,035. 
  • The Health and Care Visa is now restricted to stop overseas care workers and senior care workers (SOC 6135 and SOC 6136) from bringing dependents to the UK. All other Health and Care Visa holders will continue to be exempt from the higher salary threshold increase and the IHS
  • Care providers in England are only able to sponsor migrant workers if they are undertaking activities regulated by the Care Quality Commission.
  • The new Immigration Salary List (ISL) has been implemented from 4 April 2024. For skilled worker occupations on the ISL, applicants can be paid a lower rate of either £30,960 or their occupation-specific threshold and 80 per cent of the going rate, whichever is higher. 
  • The MAC has also been asked to review the Graduate Visa Route. 
  • You can read our guidance and view illustrated scenarios on what the changes mean for the NHS.

Full details on the transition are available on the GOV.UK website.


When applying for a sponsorship licence you will be asked to provide an estimate of the number of certificates of sponsorships you expect to use for the next year. This can be reduced or increased if necessary. If your licence is due to expire after 6 April 2024, you no longer need to apply to renew. The Home Office will extend all licences from the date by 10 years. More information on sponsoring a worker can be found on the GOV.UK website.


A full list of eligible professions for the Skilled Worker Visa and their standard occupational classification (SOC) code can be found on the GOV.UK website. This list was updated in April 2024 to 2020 SOC codes, so please refer to the UKVI guidance for the most up to date list of eligible professions. 

The Health and Care Visa is a subsection of the Skilled Worker Visa. The Health and Care Visa applies to qualified doctors, nurses, allied professionals, and other professionals working in either health or social care. The minimum skill level is RQF level 3 (A-level equivalent). Lower thresholds and other exemptions are available for applicants on a Health and Care Visa. 

An outline of the differences is available on the Health and Care visa webpage.

The Skilled Worker Visa requires applicants to have certain characteristics, three of which are fixed, and six which are tradeable however 70 points in total is required.

Individuals will need to attract the following three fixed characteristics (for 50 points):

  • a job offer from an approved employer sponsor
  • a job at the appropriate skill level (RQF 3 or above – A-level equivalent)
  • the ability to speak English to the level set appropriate to the role.

In order to reach 70 points, they will also need to:

  • attract 20 points from the other tradable characteristics on salary and higher education.

This table outlines the characteristics, whether they are tradable or fixed and the number of points allocated to each:

CharacteristicTradablePoints allocated
 Job offer by approved sponsorNo20
 Job at the appropriate skill level (RQF 3 and above)No20
 Speaks English at the required levelNo10

All of the above are required.

May score one entry from each section below:


Salary of at least £23,200 – applies to:

eligible health and care role on national pay scale

job is a health and care role on the ISL

*new entrant to a health and care role 


Salary of at least £29,000 – applies to:

certificate of sponsorship application was before 4 April 2024

And in a health and care specified role (such as health services and public health managers)


Salary of at least £30,960 – applies to:

relevant PhD in a STEM subject

job is on the ISL

*new entrant to all other skilled worker roles

Salary of at least £38,700 or above for all other rolesYes20
Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job and has a salary of £34,830 or aboveYes20
Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job and has a salary of £30,960 or aboveYes20

*The salary of a new entrant will depend on their occupation code, qualification level, age, and other factors. Applicants taking out a Skilled Worker Visa as a new entrant will need to meet the requirement of £30,960. However, new entrants on a health occupation code based on the national pay scale will need to meet the requirement of £23,200.

Case worker information and examples are available in the Skilled worker case worker guidance, from page 33.

Eligibility checklist

  • valid certificate of sponsorship
  • job which meets the appropriate skill level
  • evidence of knowledge of English language
  • one or more of the other tradable characteristics to reach the 70 points
  • demonstrate ability to travel and travel history over the preceding five years
  • valid tuberculosis test results (if from a listed country)
  • a criminal record certificate from any country where the migrant has lived for 12 months or more in the last ten years, if working with vulnerable people
  • £1,270 in savings (main applicant).


The application fee for a Skilled Worker Visa varies from £719 - £1,639 per person depending on if the applicant is applying within or outside the UK and the length of visa required. Full Information including pricing is available on the GOV.UK website.

Heath and Care Visa applicants pay a lower application fee, which also applies to partners and dependants.

Application processing time

Decisions on visa applications are normally made within three weeks if the applicant is outside the UK. A faster decision can be made on applications by using the priority service (within five working days) or the super-priority service (by the end of the next working day), both of which come with an additional fee. Applicants can start to apply for a visa up to three months before the date they are due to start work, as stated on the certificate of sponsorship.

Immigration skills charge

You might have to pay the immigration skills charge additional when assigning a certificate of sponsorship to someone applying for a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker Visa.

You must pay the immigration skills charge if they’re applying for a visa from inside the UK, or outside the UK to work in the UK for six months or more. 

You will not need to pat the charge if you’re sponsoring someone with certain occupation codes or if the certificate of sponsorship was assigned before 6 April 2017. 

Immigration Health Surcharge

Those with a general Skilled Worker Visa need to also pay an IHS of £1,035 per year.

Applicants applying for the Health and Care Visa and their immediate family are exempt from having to pay the immigration health surcharge. Family is classed as those who are dependents of the applicant who is eligible for the health and care visa. It does not cover extended family or anyone living independently of the applicant.

Information on how individuals can claim a reimbursement for immigration health surcharge fees paid after 31 March 2020 is available from the Department of Health and Social Care on the GOV.UK website.

Switching to the Skilled Worker Visa from another visa 

Switching visas is streamlined under the new system and most migrants will be able to apply to switch from one immigration route to another without having to leave the UK. This will help to support the retention of talented staff and prevent unnecessary travel.

Switching employers or job roles on the Skilled Worker Visa 

The Skilled Worker Visa allows an employee to work in a sponsored role for one sponsor/employer. If someone wishes to change employers, they can do so if they receive a new qualifying job offer and Certificate of Sponsorship from another employer with a sponsor licence. The employee will have to make a new visa application.

If the employee will be doing a different job for the same employer, they will need to apply to update their visa if the new job is in a different occupation code.