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Skilled Worker Route (Formerly Tier 2)

Tier 2 (General) visa route was replaced with the Skilled Worker Route from 1 December 2021. This visa route is for people seeking permanent employment in the UK. This advice guide is aimed at current students holding a Tier 4 visa/Student visa, who are considering working in the UK after they complete their studies from the RCA.

EU/EEA nationals 

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Free movement between the UK and the European Union ended on 31 December 2020 and on 1 January 2021, the UK implemented a points-based immigration system that prioritises skills and talent over where a person comes from. 

If you were not resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 and do not have rights under the withdrawal agreement, you will need to meet specific requirements in order to work in the UK from 1 January 2021 under the Skilled Worker Route. 


To apply for a skilled worker route, you need to show you have  the following:

Switching from a Tier 4/Student visa to Skilled Worker (new entrants)

You can switch from a Tier 4/Student visa to a Skilled Worker Route from within the UK if:

  • You have a valid Tier 4/Student visa in the UK
  • You have been offered a graduate-level job at ( RFQ level 6 or above ) with skilled route sponsor and be paid the appropriate salary for that job (check online if the employer is on Skilled Worker & Temporary worker list)
  • You have completed your degree programme or are within three months of the official programme end date as stated on your CAS
  • You are a PhD student who has completed 12 months of your PhD
  • You have permission from your government sponsor or international sponsor to remain in the UK to work. ( a written letter must be provided)
  • No financial evidence is required if you apply in the UK

If you are applying from outside the UK: 

  • Your Tier 4/Student visa must have expired less than two years before the date of application. 
  • You must demonstrate you have had £1,270 for at least 28 days in a bank account 

You can also switch to a Skilled Worker route visa if you’re:

  • a dependent partner of someone with a Tier 4/Student visa

Level of job and salary

  • If you apply in the UK and you still have leave remaining on your  Tier 4/Student visa:
  • The job must be at graduate level, or an eligible  job on the Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Occupations
  • Your employer must pay you a minimum of £20,480, whichever is higher as a 'new entrant
  • Your employer must issue you a Certificate of Sponsorship ( CoS) 

Exemptions on a Tier 4/Student visa 

  • Your employer will no longer be conducting a Resident Labour Market Test.
  • Your employer will be able to generate an unrestricted CoS for your Skilled Worker application..
  • Your employer will be exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge.
  • You will not need to provide an overseas criminal record certificate.

NB: Employers wishing to recruit someone who has to apply for Skilled Worker from outside the UK are no longer subject to undertaking all of the above. 

The shortage occupation list: Where these rules refer to jobs which appear on the Shortage Occupation List, this means only those specific jobs within each Standard Occupational Classification code where stated, where the further specified criteria are met.

How to apply

Before applying you should read the Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Worker carefully.

  • Get a CoS from your employer
  • Current valid passport + current valid visa / Biometric Residence Permit
  • Police Certificate (if applicable ) 
  • Original degree certificate from the RCA (If your degree certificate is unavailable, you will need to visit Registry to obtain an academic reference on headed paper from the RCA confirming one of the following:

  1.  the date that you completed your course, having sat all exams and presented all academic papers
  2. that you have studied more than 12 months of a PhD
  3. that you are within 3 months of your expected course end date + what that course end date is.

NB: if you obtain this letter in advance of your expected course end date and use it to support your Skilled Worker visa application, do note that your work rights will only change once your Skilled Worker visa has been granted.

  • Letter of consent to remain in the UK, if you were fully sponsored for your studies by an official financial sponsor
  • Completed online application form:

Healthcare surcharge

You may have to pay a healthcare surcharge (called the ‘immigration health surcharge’ or IHS) in addition to your visa application fee. Check how much you may have to pay.

How long can I stay in the UK?

The visa will be issued for up to five years depending upon the length of your employment. You can apply to extend for a further period of leave if you are still employed at the time of your visa expiring.


You can have your dependent(s) with you in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa.

Information on financial requirements and how to apply can be found on the Home Office website.


How much you pay for a Skilled Worker visa depends on the type of visa and where you are.

  • For up to three years:  £704 Standard Service in the UK
  • For more than three years: £1,408 Standard Service in the UK

If your job is on the Shortage Occupational List you will pay a lower application fee.

  • £464 if you’re staying for up to three years
  • £928 if you’re staying for more than three years

The fee is the same whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.

If you are from an eligible country your application fee will automatically be reduced to £55. The countries are: 

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

Healthcare surcharge

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply. 

If you’re applying to extend or switch in the UK

Once you have submitted your online application and you’ll need to use UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS)  booking fees will apply for:

  • your biometric information (fingerprints and photo) You will need to 
  • supporting documents for your application

You’ll be told if you need to use UKVCAS when you apply.

You’ll need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

The processing time

Decisions are usually made:

  • within eight weeks of your application date if you use the standard service
  • within five working days of your UKVCAS appointment if you use the priority service you can pay an extra £500 for the priority service to get a decision within five working days providing.
  • You can pay an extra £800 for the super-priority service to get a decision by the end of the next working day of your UKVCAS appointment is on a weekday or two working days if your appointment is on the weekend.


  • For up to three years:  £704 (each person) Standard Service in the UK
  • For more than three years  A – £1,408 (each person) Standard Service in the UK
  • For faster decision priority and super-priority service applies as above 

For further information please contact Student Support.


Group Sessions are available once a month. To book a session please contact the International Student Adviser. Information packs are also available on Moodle (Student Support) for our current student students.

Student Support Office
+44 (0)20 7590 4140
[email protected]



Home Office


Skilled worker route information for EU nationals