How To Grant Or Refuse An Application Under The Skilled Worker Route
If you are planning to apply for a UK Skilled Worker visa in 2021, it is helpful to think of the thought process of the Home Office care worker who will handle your case and how they will approve or deny your application. They do not follow a loosely defined process when assessing visa applications; rather, they follow a carefully written and detailed set of guidelines containing most of the scenarios they are likely to experience. As immigration Solicitors, we understand the steps they will undertake from start to finish, the considerations they will make, and the amount of room they have to exercise their own discretion. In this article, we will take a look at how Home Office caseworkers grant or refuse applications under the Skilled Worker route.
The Case Worker’s Perspective
Home Office caseworkers not only need to understand the details of the cases they are handling, but they also need to understand the precise rules and guidelines for the type of visa the applicant is seeking. The visa specific guidance they follow outlines the definitions, validity, eligibility, and suitability criteria that must be applied. It also tells them where to find further details within the immigration rules and associated appendices. Hence, if you want to know how they think, follow the guidance they use.
The Skilled Worker guidance document is available on the Home Office website and is freely available for anyone to download, read, and digest.
Refusing An Application For A Skilled Worker Visa
There are several reasons why a Home Office caseworker may refuse your application:
- You may not score 70 points or more under the points-based system – i.e. if your salary is below the threshold and you do not have any tradeable points you can use to make up the difference.
- You may not have a suitable job offer from a licenced sponsor
- Your sponsor may have had their licence downgraded, revoked, or suspended
- The job may not meet the minimum skill level required (RQF level 3)
- You may not have paid the full application fee and immigration healthcare surcharge
- You may not have provided the correct information or evidence in your application
- You have not used the correct application form
In some cases, it may be that the case officer will simply request further details on your application, and this is sufficient to secure a positive outcome.
The case officer will also consider your suitability, as defined by the ‘grounds for refusal’:
- An applicant who has been previously excluded or deported
- An applicant’s presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good because of their conduct, character, associations or other reasons
- An applicant has received a custodial prison sentence or 12 months or longer, or is a persistent offender, or committed an offence that caused serious harm.
- An applicant has been excluded from asylum or humanitarian protection grounds
- An applicant has made false representations.
- An applicant who is in breach of immigration laws or on immigration bail.
Making A Positive Decision On A Skilled Worker Visa
In order to grant your Skilled Worker visa, the Home Office will check you meet three sets of requirements; validity, suitability, and eligibility. The validity requirements first require the case officer working on your application to verify you:
- Have used the correct application form
- Have paid the application fee and immigration healthcare surcharge
- Have provided your biometrics
- Have provided a valid passport or ID
- Have a current Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
- Are 18 or older
- Were not last granted entry as a Visitor, Short-term student, Parent of a Child Student; Seasonal Worker; a Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or outside the Immigration Rules.
Assuming you pass the above validity checks, they will then apply the suitability checks – as defined in the grounds for refusal (listed above).
To confirm your eligibility, the case officer will then check that you score the required points (70 points as at the time of writing). This means that you must have a valid job offer and Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed sponsor in the UK. They will check the CoS is correct, including the name, role title, salary details, start date, that it has not been used before for a previous application, and that it has not been withdrawn by the Home Office. They will check the sponsor is authorised to provide sponsorship of the type you are being offered and that they have paid the immigration skills charge when issuing your CoS. Crucially, they will check there is no reason to suspect that your job does not exist, is a sham, or has been created to allow you to stay in the UK.
Another aspect of your application that will be checked is whether the job you have been offered meets the minimum skill level of RQF 3 (this is equivalent to A-Level). For this reason, they will look for signs that the job code you have provided on your application has been altered or exaggerated from one which is not eligible under the visa to one which is. To help make this assessment, they will look at:
- whether the sponsor has shown a genuine need for the job as described
- whether the applicant has the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job as described
- the sponsor’s history of compliance with the immigration system including, but not limited to, paying its sponsored workers appropriately
- any additional information from the sponsor
The basis on which an application for a Skilled Worker visa is granted or refused is explained in detail in the Home Office guidance for this visa type. Having this knowledge, or using the services of an immigration lawyer who does, means that you will have the best chance of securing a positive decision on your application without delay.