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Skilled Worker Salary Threshold Based on Age

For those not familiar with the vagaries of the Skilled Worker visa, it may be assumed that all applicants must meet the minimum salary requirement of £25,600, however, there are several exceptions. Those with a job offer for a role on the shortage occupation list or a PhD in a STEM subject can be paid between 70% and 90% of the ‘going rate’ for their profession as long as their pay meets or exceeds £20,480. In this article, we will explain the lower salary threshold rules for Skilled Worker visa applicants based on age.

What Are The Age-Based Skilled Worker Visa Salary Requirements?

The Skilled Worker visa guidance explains that certain applicants only need to earn 70% of their job’s going-rate, these include those who are:

  • under 26 on the date of application, or;
  • currently in the UK on a Student visa studying at bachelor’s degree level or above - or they have been in the last two years, and a Student or visit visa was their most recent visa, or;
  • currently in the UK on a Graduate Entrepreneur visa
  • working towards a recognised qualification in a UK regulated profession, or;
  • working towards full registration or chartered status in the job they have been sponsored for.

The immigration rules define the maximum amount of time a Skilled visa holder can remain in the UK if any of these lower salary criteria apply; “Your total stay in the UK cannot be more than four years if you apply for one of these reasons. This includes any time you’ve already spent in the UK on Tier 2 (General) work visa”.

If you do fit into one of the above criteria and to check if you meet the lower salary requirement, it is advisable to reference the Home Office’s table of minimum salaries for migrant workers under 26, studying, training or in a postdoctoral role.

The list includes (these salaries are already adjusted to 70% of the going rate)

  • Chief executives and senior officials: Chief executives, Chief medical officer, Civil servant (grade 5 and above), and Vice president: £47,110 (£23.23 per hour)
  • Information technology and telecommunications directors: IT Director, Technical Director (computer services), and Telecommunications director: £39,270 (£19.36 per hour)
  • Air traffic controllers: Air traffic control officer, Air traffic controller, Air traffic services assistant, Flight planner: £57,680 (£28.44 per hour)
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers: Airline pilot, First officer (airlines), Flight engineer, Flying instructor, Helicopter pilot: £42,560 (£20.99 per hour)

It is important to bear in mind that the minimum salaries listed in the table are based on the assumption of working 39 hours per week, hence, if your employment is for more or fewer hours, you will need to work out the pro-rated amount; as the guidance states, “The annual salaries for these jobs are based on a 39-hour working week. They must be pro-rated for other working patterns, based on the weekly working hours stated by your employer”. For example, if 70% of the annual going rate for your occupation is £40,000, and you are sponsored to work 30 hours per week (rather than 39 hours), the pro-rating calculation would be as follows:

£40,000 ÷ 39 x 30 = £ 30,769

Hence the applicant would need to earn £30,769 rather than £40,000 to be eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker visa.

What Is The Minimum Age For A Skilled Worker Visa Application?

Applicants for a Skilled Worker visa must be at least 18 years or over. UKVI case officers are advised, “All applicants must be aged 18 or over on the date of application. If the applicant is too young, the application must be rejected”. If you are 17 but will be 18 before your current visa expires, you will need to wait until your eighteenth birthday before submitting your application.

Which Regulated Professions Are Eligible For The Lower Salary Threshold?

The lower salary threshold (70% of the going rate) not only applies to those under 26 but also to those in regulated professions in the UK. According to the UK Centre for Professional Qualifications (CPQ Ecctis), “A profession is regulated when it has a legal or regulatory requirement for a professional to register with a regulatory body prior to practising that profession. The regulatory body is responsible for assessing a professional’s prior training and experience to determine whether they are suitably qualified to practise. If your profession falls into this category and you would like to practise it in the UK, it will be necessary to contact the regulatory body directly”. These regulated professions include vets, architects, gas engineers, teachers, health and social care workers, legal practitioners, analytical chemists, security roles, and jobs in transport and maritime roles. If you are over 26 but in one of the Ecctis defined regulated professions, you will be able to use the lower salary threshold when applying for a Skilled Worker visa.

Which Postdoctoral Positions In Science Or Higher Education Qualify For The Lower Salary Threshold?

Under the current immigration rules, applicants with a postdoctoral position in specific science or higher education roles, including those listed below, also only need to earn 70% of the going rate for their occupation to apply for a Skilled Worker visa:

  • 2111: chemical scientists
  • 2112: biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113: physical scientists
  • 2114: social and humanities scientists
  • 2119: natural and social science professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as research fellows and sports scientists
  • 2311: higher education teaching professionals

In Conclusion

The salary requirements for a Skilled Worker visa can be quite complex, especially when taking into account the need to pro-rate amounts, the various lower threshold levels, and the rules which apply. If you are considering applying for a Skilled Worker visa in the coming months, and you are under 26 and/or you meet any of the other criteria for the lower salary threshold, it is advisable to speak to Immigration Solicitors to double-check your eligibility. Doing so will give you the confidence that your application will have the best chance of a successful outcome.

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