Skilled Worker Visa: What Is The Minimum Salary If An Employee Works More Than 48 Hours Per Week?
We receive many enquiries each week regarding the Skilled Worker eligibility rules, especially the minimum salary requirements. On face value, the requirement for applicants to have an income of £25,600 seems straightforward, however, there are several exceptions that apply. For example, those with a PhD in a STEM subject may be able to score sufficient points for a Skilled Worker visa if they have a salary that is at least 80% of the threshold. Another area of potential confusion for applicants relates to the number of hours being worked each week. In this article, we will outline the Skilled Worker visa immigration rules when calculating the minimum salary requirements for those who work more than 48 hours per week.
The General Salary Threshold
As with all aspects of immigration law, it is important to understand the finer details of the minimum salary requirements for the Skilled Worker visa. Doing so will ensure that your application is not refused on a technicality. The first point to understand is what is meant by the ‘general threshold’. The general threshold is described in the Home Office guidance as “the minimum salary which applies regardless of the applicant’s occupation code. This may be £25,600, £23,040, £20,800 or £20,480, depending on the tradeable points option”. As such, the general threshold is the absolute benchmark for determining whether you are eligible for a Skilled Worker visa based on your salary. Your salary is your guaranteed basic gross pay; no other pay, such as performance-related bonuses, can be included. Any amount of your salary which is used towards a ‘salary sacrifice scheme will not be deducted from your salary for the purposes of the Home Office’s calculations and can be included towards your gross pay.
It is important to note that the general threshold remains the same no matter how many hours a week you work. When assessing your salary, UKVI case officers will only consider the first 48 hours for which you are contracted (as stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship). For example, if you are contracted to work 55 hours per week, they will only calculate your income based on 48 hours. The Home Office guidance states, “if the applicant is being sponsored to work more than 48 hours a week, only the salary for the first 48 hours a week can be considered”.
This means that if you are paid £10 per hour based on a working week of 55 hours, your salary will be calculated as £24,960 (this is calculated as £10 x 48 x 52) per year based on 48 hours per week, rather than £28,600 (£10 x 55 x 52) based on 55 hours per week. As this is below the general threshold of £25,600, you would not be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa unless you qualify for a lower threshold (i.e. those with PhDs and roles on the shortage occupation list).
The ‘Going-Rate’ Salary Threshold
Depending on your occupation, you may be required to meet the ‘going rate’ salary threshold rather than the general threshold. As the Home Office guidance states, to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you will “usually need to be paid at least £25,600 per year unless the ‘going rate’ for your job is higher than this”. A list of going rates for eligible occupations is available online. For some occupations, the going rate may be higher than the general threshold, but it may also be lower. When it comes to assessing whether your pay meets the going rate threshold, the Home Office will calculate the pro-rated going rate and compare this to your salary. The Home Office’s list of going rates is based on an assumption of working 39 hours per week and 40-hours for a doctor, 37.5-hours under NHS Agenda for Change occupations, and the definition of a full-time worker for teaching occupations.
To complete the pro-rated salary calculation, all of the hours for which you are contracted to work each week have to be included. For example, for an applicant with a salary of £31,000 for a role with a going rate of £39,000, whose Certificate of Sponsorship states they are employed to work 30 hours, the calculation would be as follows:
Step 1 – divide the going rate by the assumed number of hours: £39,000 / 39 hours = £1,000
Step 2 – multiply the result by the number of hours on the applicant’s Certificate of Sponsorship: £1,000 x 30 hours = £30,000
As the applicant’s salary of £31,000 is more than the pro-rated going-rate of £30,000, they would be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa.
Where the applicant’s salary is below the amount required, it may still be possible to secure a Skilled Worker visa if they are eligible to trade points that allow 70%, 80% or 90% of the going rate. A full explanation of the rules as they apply to salary and tradeable points can be found on the Home Office website. Given the complexity, however, we recommend speaking to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to run the calculations for you in the same way a Home Office case officer would, to confirm whether you are eligible for a Skilled Worker visa.
For prospective applicant’s whose salary is clearly in excess of the minimum income requirement once the hours to be worked each week are taken into account, there should be no real concerns regarding this aspect of the Skilled Worker visa eligibility. If, however, you are close to the threshold required, you are unsure if you can trade points, there are doubts regarding your eligibility to a reduced minimum salary, or for any other reason, it is always advisable to check with an immigration lawyer before you apply. Doing so will enable you to put in place a strategy to overcome the problem and ensure you have the best chance of making a successful application.