How to Avoid a Skilled Worker Visa Refusal
As specialists in UK immigration, we have seen on many occasions how even simple mistakes can lead to a refusal. This is unfortunate because often, this negative decision could have been avoided by double-checking the information provided, clarifying the requirements, or providing additional information. In this article, we will explain how a UK Skilled Worker visa applicant can avoid receiving a refusal from the Home Office.
How the Home Office will assess your Skilled Worker visa application
There is no mystery to how Home Office case officers assess work visa applications as the process and criteria they follow are detailed extensively online. On receipt of your application, it will be verified by the Home Office on three main dimensions – validity, suitability, and eligibility. Only if your application passes all three types of requirements will it be approved.
Assessing the validity of your Skilled Worker visa application
The validity requirements for the Skilled Worker are detailed in sections SW 1.1. to SW 1.6 of the immigration rule. These require that you:
- Have used the correct application form – these differ depending on whether you are applying inside or outside the UK
- Have paid the required application fee
- Have had your biometric information scanned
- Have provided your passport/ID
- Have provided a Certificate of Sponsorship (Cos) issued by your sponsor no more than three months before the date of application
- Are 18 years old or over
The validity rules also clarify that if you are applying to stay in the UK, you must not have (as of the date of application), have last been granted, permission:
- as a Visitor; or
- as a Short-term student; or
- as a Parent of a Child Student; or
- as a Seasonal Worker; or
- as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or
- outside the Immigration Rules.
As the validity rules state, “An application which does not meet the validity requirements for a Skilled Worker is invalid and may be rejected and not considered”.
Assessing Your Suitability
When looking at your suitability to receive a Skilled Worker visa, the Home Office will consider the Immigration Rules part 9: grounds for refusal. The grounds for refusal cover where:
- An applicant 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 which caused serious harm.
- An applicant has been excluded from asylum or humanitarian protection grounds
- An applicant has made false representations.
In addition, the Home Office will look to verify that you are not in breach of immigration laws or on immigration bail.
Assessing Your Eligibility For A Skilled Worker Visa
Assuming that your application is valid and you are considered suitable, your eligibility for the Skilled Worker visa will then be looked at. This means that you are sponsored by an employer in the UK with a sponsor license (the license must not have been downgraded, revoked or suspended). The role you are going to fill must be on the list of eligible occupations (this is to ensure that are filling a role which requires skills at RQF level 3 or above). The full list of eligible jobs is listed online. You will also need to meet the following requirements:
- Have a salary of at least £25,600, or the ‘going rate’ for your role. If your role is in health or education, different salary rules apply which you will need to understand. If your salary is less than the required amount, you may still be eligible if you have a job in a shortage occupation, you are under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training, or you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification – if these apply, the salary requirement is lowered to £20,480.
- Score 50 points or more on the points-based system. 20 points are awarded for sponsorship, 20 further points are awarded for having a job offer at the required level, and a further 10 points are granted if you have English language proficiency at level B1. These are all ‘mandatory’ points. Additional points are available based on salary, qualifications, and whether you have a shortage of occupation.
Each of the requirements listed above for validity, suitability, and eligibility must be met in order to receive a positive decision on your case. It is not uncommon for applicants to misinterpret the rules and, hence, not be eligible.
Other Factors To Consider When Applying
Even if you do meet all of the requirements listed above, it is still possible to be refused if you do not submit the necessary documents in the correct format. For example, if you are asked to provide an original document with a certified translation, it is important that this is done correctly. Likewise, if you are asked to provide a letter from an employer on letter headed paper providing details of your employment, it is essential that all of the details requested are included. Other possible reasons for refusal are previous episodes of overstaying, if there are suspicions that the role you have been offered is not genuine, or if your employer has not paid (or has uunderpaid) the immigration skills charge.
Where possible, it is always recommended that your Skilled Worker visa application should be assessed by an immigration Solicitor before being submitted to the Home Office to ensure that there are no grounds for refusal. In some cases, where a possible problem is discovered, which may complicate your application, a covering letter can be drafted to fully explain and mitigate the risk of misinterpretation by the Home Office. For example, if you have overstayed in the UK previously but this was as a result of factors outside of your control, a letter can explain what happened and why this should not be a factor against you. Doing so can significantly increase your chances of receiving a positive decision.