What salary can you pay a skilled worker?
Under the Skilled Worker route that came into effect on 1 January 2021, migrants must be awarded a total of 70 points in order to apply to work in the UK. This comprises 50 mandatory and 20 tradeable points.
To qualify for the 50 mandatory points, the following requirements need to be met:
- the migrant must hold a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor (20 points)
- the job must be at the appropriate skill level (20 points)
- the migrant must have English language skills at the appropriate level (10 points)
The remaining 20 tradeable points are based on the migrant’s salary and other criteria, including their academic qualifications.
This article will focus on those 20 tradeable points, looking at what salary you can pay a migrant being sponsored under the Skilled Worker route, and when this can change depending on their circumstances.
The list of eligible occupations for which migrants can be sponsored under the Skilled Worker route can be found at Appendix Skilled Occupations.
Tradeable points options
If relying on salary only, the migrant must hold a job offer that meets the minimum salary threshold, which equals or exceeds the higher of either £25,600 per year or the ‘going rate’ for the relevant occupation code (i.e. the specific salary requirement for the migrant’s occupation).
For example, if the migrant’s salary is £27,000 per year, but the annual going rate for their job is £30,000, then that migrant does not meet the minimum salary requirements for a Skilled Worker visa.
Relevant PhD qualification
A migrant can still apply for a Skilled Worker visa even if their salary is less than £25,600 and the job’s usual going rate, by trading characteristics, such as qualifications, against a lower salary.
Under this option, a migrant can receive 20 tradeable points if:
- they are being sponsored for a job in an appropriate occupation code listed as being “eligible for PhD points” in Table 1 of Appendix Skilled Occupations
- they have a relevant UK PhD or other academic doctoral qualification, or an overseas academic qualification which meets the recognised standard of a UK PhD according to UK NARIC, in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) subject
- their salary is equal or exceeds the higher of either £20,480 per year or 80% of the going rate for the relevant occupation code.
If the migrant has a non-STEM qualification, their salary must exceed the higher of either £23,040 per year or 90% of the going rate for the relevant occupation code.
A shortage occupation is a skilled job where there is a shortage of workers in the UK, such as civil engineers and architects.
If the migrant’s job is on the Shortage Occupation List, they will receive 20 tradeable points provided that their salary is equal to or exceeds the higher of either £20,480 per year or 80% of the going rate for the relevant occupation code.
Under this option, migrants can be paid a minimum of £20,480 per year or 70% of the going rate for the relevant occupation code (whichever is higher) provided they meet one of the following requirements:
- the migrant is under 26 at the date they apply
- the job offer is a postdoctoral position in any of the following occupation codes:
- 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
- the migrant is currently in the UK on a Student Visa (or has been in the previous 2 years) studying a bachelor’s degree level or above. This has been expanded to include Graduates who have held permission within the last two years.
- the migrant is currently in the UK on a Graduate Entrepreneur visa
- the migrant will be working towards a recognised qualification in a UK regulated profession
- the migrant will be working towards full registration or chartered status in the job they are being sponsored for.
If a migrant applies for one of these reasons, their total stay in the UK cannot be more than 4 years (including any time spent on a Tier 2 (General) work visa).
Eligible health or education occupation
A migrant who has a job in a health or education occupation that is listed in Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations, can be paid a minimum of the higher of either £20,480 per year or the going rate for the relevant occupation code.
It is important to note, however, that the going rates for these jobs are based on the national pay scales set by the relevant independent body, such as the NHS for instance.
If you have any questions about the contents of this article or if you need any assistance with the Skilled Worker route, please contact [email protected] in the immigration team at FSP.