How Can I Access The Skill Level Requirement For Skilled Workers?
When the UK departed the European Union (EU) at the end of 2020, a great deal changed. In particular, the end of free movement removed the ease by which citizens from either side can live, work, and study in each other’s territory. One of the implications of the ending of free movement was that the UK Government had to lower the skills threshold for migrant workers, in part to compensate for the loss of low skilled EU migrant workers who would no longer be able to work here. In this article, we will explain the new skill level requirements for skilled workers coming to the UK, including how to find which occupations are eligible under the skilled worker visa route.
What Are The Skill Level Requirements For The Skilled Worker Visa?
Prior to 2021, migrant workers coming to the UK from outside of the EU were required to have an offer of a role with a skill level equivalent to RQF Level 6 (degree level in the UK). As such, the level required was relatively high, making it difficult for those with college-level qualifications to work here. With the introduction of the new post-Brexit immigration rules, the skills level was reduced to RQF Level 3 (A-Level in the UK). In doing so, this significantly reduced the skills threshold, opening up a much wider range of occupations for migrant workers.
Before assessing whether you have an eligible role, once you submit your application for a Skilled Worker visa, the Home Office will first check whether you score 20 mandatory points for sponsorship. To meet the mandatory points requirement, you must:
- Have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for the job you are planning to do
- Your CoS must be issued by a licensed sponsoring employer in the UK
- The sponsor must be A-rated
- The sponsor must have paid the immigration skills charge
- Your employment must be considered genuine by the Home Office
Having confirmed that you are eligible for the mandatory 20 points under the new points-based system, we can now look at which occupations are eligible.
How can I check which occupations are eligible for the UK Skilled Worker visa?
There are two steps to checking whether your occupation fits into one of the allowed role types for a Skilled Worker visa. The eligible roles are considered by the Home Office to be equivalent to RQF Level 3 in terms of the skills required to perform them.
Step 1: Confirm The SOC Code Which Applies To Your Occupation
The Home Office uses ‘Standard Occupation Codes’ (SOC) to define which jobs are eligible for a Skilled Worker visa. If you don’t know your SOC code (a four-digit code), it is advisable to ask your employer. This way you can ensure the SOC code you will be listing on your occupation matches the one they will use on your CoS. Another way to find your SOC code is to search the ONS occupation coding tool website. It is important if you are checking yourself you search for the correct job title, as some roles which sound the same have different codes – e.g. cook and chef (with only the latter being eligible for a visa).
Step 2: Confirm The SOC Code Is Included On The List Of Eligible Occupations
Once you have confirmed the SOC code, it is important to check this against the master list of eligible occupations for the Skilled Worker visa. The list provides the SOC code, job type, and related job titles for all of those eligible. For example, SOC code 1242 is for the job type of ‘residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors’, which includes care managers, day centre managers, nursing home owners, and residential managers (residential home).
The importance of not exaggerating roles
When assessing your application, the Home Office will check that the role code you have used aligns with your skills and experience. In particular, they will verify that an exaggerated code has not been used. The guidance for case officers states, “You must not award points for a job at the appropriate skill level if you have reasonable grounds to believe the sponsor has not chosen an appropriate occupation code. Factors which may indicate this could include when either: the job description appears to be a standard or template response used for other businesses and the application is in a high-risk sector; or the applicant has been refused previously on similar grounds”. Hence, for example, if you have applied as a chef, but you would be technically classified as a cook, your application may be questioned by the Home Office. If there are grounds for concern, the case officer is required to request more information from you. It may be that you have accidentally chosen the wrong SOC code and can correct this, or you can provide additional proof that you do have the skills and experience for the occupation listed in your application.
If your Skilled Worker visa application is refused or further information is requested for this reason, it is advisable to ask for help from an immigration Solicitor who will be able to respond on your behalf with the proof needed to secure a successful outcome. Where this is not possible, they will be able to advise you of your options and how best to proceed, with your goals in mind.
The range of occupations which are now available under the UK’s Skilled Worker visa scheme is now much broader than under the previous Tier 2 (General) work visa route. This opens up opportunities for migrant workers who do not have university-level skills to come to the UK to work, and if they wish, apply for settlement after five years, and eventually citizenship.