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Skilled Worker Visa: What Is The Minimum Salary If The Applicant Is Not At A Senior Level?

One of the main eligibility requirements for the UK Skilled Worker visa relates to the salary being offered by the UK sponsor, and specifically whether this meets the minimum level set by the Home Office. While this was reduced at the start of 2021 from £30,000 to £25,600 (a lower threshold applies in specific circumstances) following Brexit and the introduction of the new points-based immigration system, the salary requirement can still pose a barrier for many prospective migrant workers. At the same time as the lowering of the salary threshold, the skills level was also reduced from RQF3 to RQF6 (from degree level to A-level). In doing so, more roles with lower skills requirements have become eligible under the new immigration system. In this article, we will discuss the minimum salary requirement for the UK Skilled Worker visa, and specifically the concessions available for those under 26 or with less work experience.

What Is The Standard Minimum Salary Requirement For A Skilled Worker Visa Applicant?

Typically, applicants for a Skilled Worker visa must have a salary of £25,600 or more or be paid at least the ‘going rate’ for their occupation. If your salary is £60,000, but the ‘going rate’ for your occupation is set at £67,300 (as is the case for Chief Executives and senior officials), then you will not qualify for a Skilled Worker visa. Likewise, if you are a logistics manager paid £25,000, your pay exceeds the ‘going rate of £24,300 and, therefore, you would be eligible. A list of official ‘going rates’ is available on the Home Office website. In addition, those in shortage occupations only need to be paid 80% of their job’s ‘going rate’. A lower threshold of £20,480 also applies; any applicant with a salary lower than this amount will not be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa.

Lower Salary Threshold For Younger Employees, New Entrants, And Graduates

The Home Office knows that younger migrant workers, new entrants, and graduates, even though they may have the skills necessary for their job, may not be able to secure the salary needed for a Skilled Worker visa. The salary guidance states that applicants may be paid between 70% and 90% of the usual going rate for their occupation if their pay is no lower than the absolute minimum of £20,480 per year. To do so, they must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Be under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training
  • Have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to their job (if they have a relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject, their salary must be at least £23,040)
  • Have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education

70% of the going rate

The 70% threshold (i.e. of the normal going rate) applies to those who are under 26 years, where one of the following applies:

  • You are in the UK on a Student visa - or you have been in the last two years - studying at bachelor’s degree level or above
  • You are currently in the UK on a Graduate Entrepreneur visa
  • You are working towards a recognised qualification in a UK regulated profession
  • You are working towards full registration or chartered status in the job you’re being sponsored for

If one of these scenarios applies to you, we recommend checking the guidance entitled, ‘Skilled Worker visa: minimum salary if you’re under 26, studying, training or in a postdoctoral role’ published by the Home Office, showing how much you need to earn.

Another group of prospective applicants who are eligible for the 70% minimum salary level are those with a postdoctoral position; specifically:

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

The rules also impose a limit of four years for your total stay if applying based on a postdoctoral role with a salary at 70% of the going rate.

80% and 90% of the going rate

The Home Office guidance states that those with technical PhD level qualifications only need to have a salary of 80% of the going rate for their occupation; “If you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) qualification, you can be paid 80% of your job’s usual going rate, as long as you will still be paid at least £20,480 per year”.

If you have a PhD in a non-STEM subject, you will still be eligible for the lower salary threshold for a Skilled Worker visa, but only to 90% of the going rate.

To qualify for the lower salary threshold under either of these PhD routes, you must:

  • have a UK PhD or an equivalent doctorate-level overseas qualification – you will need to apply to UK NARIC, who will verify if your overseas qualification is equivalent to a UK PhD
  • be able to prove your qualification is relevant to the job you’ll be doing in the UK (your employer should be able to confirm this in writing).

Final Words

As immigration Solicitors, we field many queries each week from prospective Skilled Worker visa applicants who are unsure whether they meet the minimum salary requirements. This is entirely understandable given the number of variables involved, including qualifications, age, education, and whether the role is on the shortage occupation list. If you are in any way unsure if you qualify, speak to an immigration lawyer who can quickly assess your situation in respect of all of the eligibility criteria, not just salary.

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