A Skilled Worker’s Guide to Settling in the UK

23 May 2024, 56 mins ago

After spending five years with a Skilled Worker visa, you may be allowed to permanently settle in the UK by applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This blog will explain how a skilled worker can progress towards settlement in the UK and the requirements needed for ILR status.

Important changes to the Immigration Rules on 4 April 2024 introduced new consideration for Skilled Worker visa holders applying for Indefinite Leave to remain (ILR), particularly regarding salary requirements. Whilst obtaining ILR involves additional requirements beyond the initial Skilled Worker visa, it grants you greater freedom to live and work in the UK.

A Skilled Worker visa is granted to individuals who are qualified to work in the UK for an approved sponsor in an eligible role. Whilst a Skilled Worker visa itself lasts up to five years, it also offers a pathway to permanent residency by fulfilling certain criteria, most importantly – five years of continuous UK residence.

What is Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as settlement or permanent residence, is an immigration status which allows individuals who are not British citizens to work, live and study in the UK without the need to switch or extend visas. For those granted with an ILR status based on their stay in the UK as a Skilled Worker, they may have the right to apply for British citizenship after holding the status for a 12-month period.

What are the requirements for a skilled worker to be granted ILR?

Continuous residence for 5 years

A skilled worker must have spent a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the UK to qualify for ILR – this time does not have to have been solely spent on a Skilled Worker visa. The time spent on the following types of visas can be combined to make up the 5-year qualifying period.   

  • Skilled Worker
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Global Talent
  • Innovator Founder / Innovator
  • T2 Minister of Religion / Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
  • International Sportsperson / T2 Sportsperson / Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Investor)
  • Tier 1 (General)

In general, the continuous residence requirement is met if the applicant has not been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period. However, there are certain circumstances in which the time spent outside the UK does not count towards this limit. For instance, if a skilled worker was absent from the UK for the purpose of their employment and it was approved by their sponsor, this absence might not count toward the 180 days limit in certain situations.

Knowledge of life in the UK

An applicant for ILR must pass the “Knowledge of Life in the UK” test and provide the relevant evidence as part of their application.

The Life in the UK test can be booked using the following link: https://www.gov.uk/life-in-the-uk-test

Sponsorship and salary requirements

To satisfy the sponsorship requirements, the employer of the applicant must still be the sponsor approved by the Home Office on the date of the decision for an ILR application. In addition to this, the employer must confirm that they require the applicant to work for them for the foreseeable future, and that the applicant is paid and will be paid for the foreseeable future above the salary required for the applicant’s current role.

Whilst the current salary requirement is £38,700 per year (updated on 4 April 2024), there are certain circumstances where the lower salary threshold can apply:  

  • The applicant was sponsored in their most recent position for a job listed in Appendix Immigration Salary List: Salary of at least £30,960 per year;
  • The applicant was sponsored in their most recent position for a job in the Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data;
  • The applicant was sponsored in their most recent position for a job in the health or education sector;
  • The applicant’s 5-year qualifying period for settlement includes time as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant in which the applicant was sponsored for one of the following jobs: 2111 Chemical scientists; 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists; 2113 Physical scientists; 2114 Social and humanities scientists; 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified; 2150 Research and development managers; 2311 Higher education teaching professionals.

The above list is not definitive, and there may be additional factors to consider. It is advised to consult with a legal representative in assessing your salary requirements before submitting an ILR application.

How do the new Immigration Rules on 4 April 2024 affect the current Skilled Worker visa holder’s ILR application?

 For those whose Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) was assigned before 4 April 2024, transitional arrangements may apply for their ILR application – they have to be paid a minimum of £29,000 per year or the going rate for their role, whichever is higher.

How Gherson can assist

Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on XFacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

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