How do I get a Skilled Worker visa? How do I find an employer that will sponsor me for a Skilled Worker visa?

From the What Visa? blog


Skilled Worker visas


09 Oct, 2022

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What Visa?

We get asked this question all the time. The Skilled Worker route requires you to be sponsored by a UK employer, and naturally, non-residents want to understand the likelihood that an employer will want to sponsor them. There are so many factors that go into this decision that at first glance it seems impossible to know.

Ask a world-renowned data security expert, headhunted by a UK employer, and they’ll probably tell you how easy it was to move to the UK.

Ask the same question to a marketing executive with no experience of working in the UK that keeps getting knocked back before they even get an interview and they’ll probably tell you it’s impossible.

In this article we’ll help you understand the various factors that go into an employer’s decision to sponsor or not to sponsor. This will give you a better idea of the chances that you will be able to convince a UK employer to sponsor you for a Skilled Worker visa.

The best way to assess whether an application is possible (and calculate the minimum salary you would need to earn) is to use the What Visa? smart assessment engine.

Question 1 – Is a Skilled Worker application possible for you and the job you want?

You first need to assess whether the application would meet the basic requirements of the Skilled Worker route. This assessment is made up of 3 key components:

  • 1) Does the job meet the skills threshold?
    This is an assessment of the skill level required to perform the job, not your skill level
  • 2) Does the salary on offer meet the requirements?
    The minimum salary threshold differs from job to job
  • 3) Do I get enough points under the new Points-Based System?
    You get points for salary as well as other characteristics such as whether you are a New Entrant (this is a technical term with a specific definition) or have a PhD that’s relevant to your role

The best way to assess whether an application is possible (and calculate the minimum salary you would need to earn) is to use the What Visa? smart assessment engine. Search for job titles, enter a few details about yourself and in less than 5 minutes you’ll get an accurate answer you can rely on. Try it now for free here.

Question 2 – How valuable are you to a UK employer?

So you’ve checked that the job you want is eligible for sponsorship and you’ve calculated how much you’ll need to be paid to get a Skilled Worker visa – all you need to do now is find a matching job advert online and they’ll sponsor you right? Well not quite. Now you need to assess how valuable you are to a given employer and compare that to the cost to the employer of sponsoring you (we’ll examine this in question 3 below). If your value exceeds the cost, you should have a realistic chance of getting sponsored. If not, you might want to look for a different job, industry or employer.

How do you know your value to a given employer? Consider the following:

  • a) Are your skills and experience in high demand in the UK? Are there a lot of job adverts for these roles, and do these adverts stick around for a long time or get relisted every month?
  • b) Is there a short supply of these skills and experience in the UK? By looking at job adverts over a period of time, you should be able to get an idea of the jobs market in your chosen sector. The ONS publishes data on vacancies by industry. You could also consider wage inflation in your chosen industry or job – the ONS publishes data on this too.
  • c) How vital is it to the employer that they fill the job? Is it a crucial fee-earning role or is it a ‘nice to have’ internal role?
  • d) Can you contact a functional manager within the company (i.e., someone who can understand your experience and the value you bring), or are you just talking to a recruiter who might not understand what you can offer? Applying to small employers is often better in this regard.

Ultimately, the best way to determine how valuable you are to an employer is to apply for the job!

Question 3 – How much will it cost the employer to sponsor you?

So you’ve had a positive interview with an employer and they know they’ll need to sponsor you. You’re home and dry right? Maybe not. It’s at this stage that many employers check what’s involved with sponsoring you and weigh that up against the value you would bring to the company. You should consider the following:

  • a) Sponsorship is easier, quicker and cheaper for employers that already hold a Sponsor Licence. You can find the full list of all 50,000 employers that have a Sponsor Licence here. An employer might be willing to get a Sponsor Licence just to sponsor you, but it costs a lot, in money and effort, so you need to be really valuable to them!
  • b) Will your employer need to pay the Immigration Skills charge or not? And are they a small sponsor or not. These things make a big difference to the overall cost, and could add up to £5,000 to the cost of the application
  • c) Are you willing to pay for the cost of your visa and the Immigration Health Surcharge, or are you expecting the employer to pay for these costs?
  • d) Does the employer know what’s involved? Many employers (even those that hold a Sponsor Licence) shy away from sponsorship because they don’t know how much it will cost, what they need to do, or where to start. If you can help the employer understand what’s involved and how much it will cost, you can reduce their ‘fear of the unknown’, and it may help your case.

The overall costs depend on several factors and to get an exact number, you would normally need to read through a lot of guidance on the UKVI website. Thankfully, What Visa? now provides a Detailed Employer Guide for free to uses of our intelligent assessment engine. We provide a full breakdown of the costs and a concise guide you can use to explain what’s involved to potential employers. Start an assessment for free now.

In conclusion

To summarise, to avoid the frustration that can come from endlessly applying to jobs that are never going to sponsor you, invest some time in doing your research up front, and get a good idea of the following:

  • a) Does the job you want qualify for a Skilled Worker visa?
  • b) How much extra value do you bring to a prospective employer, over and above the next best job candidate that doesn’t require sponsorship?
  • c) How much will it cost a prospective employer to sponsor you? In money, time and effort.

By considering these factors and using What Visa? to help quantify them, we hope you’ll be much better placed to target jobs and employers that offer a higher chance of sponsorship.