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How you can switch from a UK student visa to a skilled worker visa in 2022

UK skilled worker visa
If you are already studying in the land of tea and crumpets and are looking to apply for a job after graduation, here's how you can switch to a UK skilled worker visa. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

If you’ve been studying abroad in the UK and are on the cusp of completing university, chances are, you’re probably feeling giddy at the thought of graduation. When your studies come to an end, however, there’s an important question that you’ll need to contend with: should you stay in the UK or go back home? For some, getting a UK skilled worker visa could be an attractive option.

A UK skilled worker visa allows you to stay in the UK and be gainfully employed with an approved employer. It can also serve as your gateway to getting a permanent residence in the UK if you’re looking to make it your new home.

Here’s a guide on switching to a UK skilled worker visa in 2022:

To apply for the UK skilled worker visa, you will need to have an approved UK employer that is certified by the Home Office. Source: Oli Scarff/AFP

Am I eligible for the UK skilled worker visa?

You would need to meet certain requirements to be eligible for this visa:

The right job

To qualify for the UK skilled worker visa, you’ll need to:

  • Have an approved UK employer that is certified by the Home Office
  • Get a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer along with all the information regarding the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • Get a job that is under the list of eligible occupations

To check if your job is eligible for your application, you’ll need to look up your job’s occupation code from the ONS occupation coding tool in order to cross-check with the table of eligible jobs.

Master the English language

You would also need to prove your proficiency in English — this includes proving your ability to read, write and speak the language.

Ineligible folk

You will not be able to switch to this visa if you have:

You would need to leave the UK and apply for a UK Skilled Worker visa from abroad if you fit in any of these categories, notes the government.

How long can I stay?

The UK skilled worker visa can last up to five years before you need to extend or renew it. You can also update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer.

You would need at least £1,270 in your bank account as proof that you can support yourself in the UK. Source: Chris Ratcliffe / AFP

How much will it cost?

Application fees

If you’re applying from inside the UK and are switching from a student visa to a Skilled Worker, renewing or updating it, the standard fees are:

  • Up to three years – £704
  • More than three years – £1,408

Healthcare surcharge

You will need to pay the healthcare surcharge per annum of your stay — this is usually £624 per year. Check how much you will need to pay using this nifty calculator.

Biometric fees

You may also need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and photo) taken.

Prove your financial stability

You would need at least £1,270 in your bank account as proof that you can support yourself in the UK.

You’ll usually need to show proof of this when you apply, unless:

  • You’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months
  • Your employer has covered your costs during your first month in the UK, up to £1,270

In order to complete your application, you will need proof of your identity. Source: Richard A. Brooks/AFP

What kind of supporting documents do I need?

To complete your application, you will need proof of your identity. You will need to:

Don’t worry too much about this step, you will be told what you need to do when you apply.

How can I apply?

What’s left is the application process. Note that you will need to apply before your current visa expires.

Once you’ve started your application, you can save your form and complete it later.

How long will it take to get approved?

The decision will usually take eight weeks from your UK skilled worker visa application date. You’ll be contacted if your application will take longer, due to:

  • Your supporting documents need further verification
  • You need to attend an interview
  • Your personal circumstances — for instance, if you have a criminal conviction

You can opt in to pay for a faster decision — you’ll be told if you can when you apply.