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Human Resources

Skilled Workers Visa

The Skilled Worker visa is the main category in which Queen Mary can employ skilled workers who are not citizens of the UK or Ireland. 

The route was introducted on 1 December 2020 to replace Tier 2 of the points based system.  From 1 January 2020 it was opened to all non-British or Irish citizens wishing to work in the UK. 

As a licensed sponsor Queen Mary can offer sponsorship for any role that is a genuine vacancy and meets the criteria for sponsorship.  The process for obtaining a Certificate of Sponsorship and Skilled Workers visa is explained below.

The University will provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) only if the role you have been offered meets the minimum skill requirements for sponsorship.  A valid CoS will provide you with 40 points, 20 for sponsorship and 20 for skill level.

What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?

The CoS is an electronic document that is essential to making a successful visa application. It can only be used by you once.  Your dependant’s will also need the CoS number to make their application, even if they join you after you have arrived in the UK. 

The CoS can be issued for either up to 3 years or up to 5 years and can be extended.  After 5 years on the Skilled Worker route you may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).  If you not eligible to apply for ILR the University can continue to sponsor you until the criteria is met.

Please note: The Certificate of Sponsorship is not a guarantee that you will be granted a visa, you will still need to meet the minimum points requirements in order to qualify. 

To qualify for sponorship for a Skilled Worker visa, you must:

  • have been offered a job at Queen Mary that is a genuine vacancy and is on the list eligible occupations;
  • been issued with a contract of employment; 
  • be paid at least the minimum salary - how much depends on the type of work you do.

The specific eligibility depends on your job.

Please Note

A Certificate of Sponsorship can only be issued once HR are assured that the above criteria have been met and they have been provided with all of the necessary paperwork for sponsorship.


The University will be able to offer sponsorship if you have been offered a role that meets the minimum skill requirements for sponsorship.   Once an offer is made HR will make the necessary arrangements to provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship. 

The Certificate of Sponsorship is the first step of the process to obtain a work visa.  You will also need to ensure that you meet the points requirements of the Skilled Worker route.

All visa application are assessed on the basis of points criteria set by the Home Office.  You will need to achieve 70 points in total from across the characteristic categories. You must achieve 50 points from the mandatory categories and a further 20 from salary and attributes. These remaining 20 are tradable to allow some flexibility.

Mandatory Points

  • You must be sponsored;
  • The job you are being sponsored to do must be appropriately skilled;
  • You speak English at the required level.

Tradable Points

  • You must meet the minimum salary level or be able to acquire points in one of the other categories.

It should be noted that most of the jobs at the University, that meet the minimum skill level, will achieve the national minimum salary threshold of £25,600.  Where the minimum salary level is not met you will need to ensure that you can meet the necessary point threshold before you make your visa application. 

You must prove you can read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

You can prove your knowledge of English by:

  • passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider
  • having a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English;
  • having a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English - if you studied abroad, you’ll need to apply for confirmation through UK NARIC that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD

Who does not need to prove their knowledge of English

You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

The remaining 20 points can be obtained via a number of routes primarily by meeting the minimum salary threshold.  If the role you have been offered meets the minimum general threshold or is named on the Shortage Occupation list then you will automatically score the necessary 20 points.  

If the salary level is lower than £25,600 then it still be possible to obtain the necessary points. The below is provided for information only. Though it is expected that most jobs will meet the above salary requirements there may be a need to consider the option of using tradeable points. 

Human Resources will raise and discuss these issues when reviewing any applications where tradeable points may need to be relied on.

Going Rate 

Each SOC code has a “going rate” that is based on Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data.  Each salary listed in Appendix: Skilled Occupations is based on a 39-hour working week which may be pro-rated for other working patterns. 

The salary paid must be meet the greater of the minimum salary threshold, £25,600, or the “going rate” for the chosen SOC code.

Where Less can be Paid

It is possible to pay between 70% and 90% of the usual “going rate” for a job.  The salary payable must be at least £20,480 per year and one of the following criteria must be met:

  • the job is in a shortage occupation;
  • the applicant is a new entrant to the job market; they must be either under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training;
  • the applicant has a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to the job (if the relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject the salary must be at least £23,040);
  • the job is a postdoctoral position in science or higher education.

Shortage Occupations

The Government maintains a shortage occupation list containing skilled jobs where there is a shortage of workers in the UK.  If the job is on the shortage occupation list, a salary of 80% of the job’s usual “going rate” can be paid.

New Entrant

Individuals can be sponsored as a ‘New Entrant’ for up to a maximum of 4 years if

  • they are under the age 26 when applying
  • they hold or last held (within the past 2 years) a Student (Tier 4) visa and they have completed a UK bachelor, masters degree, or at least 12 months study towards a UK PhD.
  • the job offer is a postdoctoral position in codes including 2311 for higher education teaching professionals or 2119 used by the University for all postdoctoral researcher positions
  • they are switching within the UK from a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)  visa

New Entrants must be paid 70% of the "going rate" or £20,480 per year, whichever is higher.

Relevant PhD

Only select jobs will be able to make use of the relevant PhD salary discount.  If your job is on this list and the salary is less than the required minimum then you will need to provide details of how your PhD is relevant to the role.


Only guaranteed basic gross pay can be relied upon to meet the salary requirements. Allowances cannot be included.

Part-time working

It can be more difficult for sponorship to be provided for part-time appointments. The part-time salary must meet the absolute minimum salary threshold of £25,600, £20,480 for a new entrant, or £23,040/£20,480 if tradeable points are available.  Please do get in touch with Human Resources to discuss specific cases.

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is for security clearance from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for reseachers working in subjects where the employee’s knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery. 

From 21 May 2021 the scheme will be extended to academics and researchers sponsored under the Skilled Worker visa route. 

If you are a researcher in certain science subjects, mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine and require sponsorship under the Skilled Worker route to work in the UK then you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate. 

Nationals of EU countries, the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the United States of America do not need an ATAS certificate.

Please note that if you are required to provide an ATAS certificate you will need to make an application before Queen Mary can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship. 

ATAS applications are free and submitted online. The certificate will be sent to you by email.

Find Our More

Find out more about the subjects and occupations that are affected by the ATAS requirements

You need an ATAS certificate if you are undertaking research in certain proliferation sensitive subjects in the UK.

The fee for your visa will vary depending on your individual's circumstances (location, service option you chose, whether dependent visas are also required, etc.).  You can find details of current fees on the UK Visas and Immigration website

You do not need to do anything at this time.  The UK is required to ensure that all Biometric Residence Permits in circulation after 31 December 2024 meet new EU encryption technology standards. This means that recently issued BRPs cannot go beyond 31 December 2024 even if your permission of leave is longer.

You will be able to obtain a new, updated BRP in the future, free of charge. The Home Office will publish more information about how to do this in 2024.

Confirmation of the dates of your actually permission of leave will be on the confirmation letter you received following your visa application and you can also check your status via the online right to work check system.

Find Out More

Information on the UKVI website about BRPs 

Correspondence between the UKVI and Immigration Law Practitioners' Association

Response from the Home Office to parliamentary questions about BRP end dates 


There are a number of important task that you must attend to after you arrive in the UK. These should be your priority if you have any problems please contact HR.

Conducting a Right to Work check with the University before you start work.

The University must check the right to work of all new employees before they commence employment.  You will need to present your vignette and Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to your employing department or Human Resources (HR) to evidence of your right to work in the UK. This must be done before you can commence work.

You should make sure that you arrive in the UK to give you enough time to collect your BRP before you commence work so that both documents can be checked before your first day. 

If your BRP is delayed then you may be able to start work after a right to work check on your entry clearance vignette.  However, you must undertake another right to work check once you have collected your BRP.  This will need to be done before your vignette expires.

We are also required by the Home Office to hold evidence of the date on which you entered the UK as part of our record-keeping responsibilities. Usually, your vignette will be date stamped upon arrival. In the absence of an entry stamp – for example, if you entered through Ireland or another part of the Common Travel Area, or through an 'eGate' – other evidence, such as the boarding card or travel itinerary will need to be presented to the employing department or HR when the right to work check is being completed.

Collect your Biometric Residence Permit

If you have applied for a visa for six months or more you must collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within 10 days of your arrival in the UK, or before your vignette expires, whichever is sooner.

The location of where to collect your BRP will be noted on the Home Office letter which confirmed your application was granted. It will usually be the closest Post Office to your normal place of work.

Occasionally a BRP is not ready for collection on the stated date and you will need to return a day or two later to collect the BRP. If a BRP is still not available for collection you can report this to the Home Office to receive further instruction but you should also inform your employing department and HR.

BRPs should be carefully checked when they are picked up as any errors in details or dates will need to be corrected.

Further information can be found in the Home Office guidance on Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs).

Police Registration

You may be required to register with the police on your arrival in the UK.  This must be done within 7 days of your arrival in the UK. If police registration is required this will have been stated in the Home Office letter which confirmed your application was granted. More information on where to register is available on the Metropolitan Police’s website.

No, you should not enter the UK prior to the start date noted on your visa.

If you choose to enter the UK as a visitor before the "valid from" date on your entry clearance you will need to leave the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands) before you are able to commence employment at Queen Mary.

The University strongly recommends against booking travel to the UK before your visa is issued 

Visa holders must travel to the UK as soon as possible after the start date of their Tier 2 vignette and before the end of the 30 day validity period. If for any reason you cannot travel within this period you will need to apply, and pay, for a replacement vignette before entering the UK.

Visa vignettes are normally issued with a 'valid from' date around 14 days before the start date of employment, as listed in the Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship. This initial 14 day period allows the visa holder to settle in and take care of practical issues before they start work.

You should not enter the UK before the 'valid from' date on your visa.  If you do you will need to leave the Common Travel Area and reenter the UK before you can commence employment.

If you do not arrive within 4 weeks then the University may have to withdraw your sponsorship. This would result in your visa being cancelled and the need to make another visa application. The 4 weeks are counted from either the CoS start date or the date on which the visa is issued, whichever is later.

Your CoS is only valid for one use. If your visa application is rejected you cannot use the same CoS again. The Home Office will provide with the reason for rejection, please contact your local HR team with the reason for rejection so that we can discuss the next steps for your employment at Queen Mary. 

Application processing times will depend on where you are making your application, processing times can take up to 8 weeks.  You have three months in which to make use of your CoS, please allow yourself enough time to ensure you make your application before your start date.

You will also need to ensure that you have your visa and travel arrangements made before your start date.  It is advisable that you do not make your travel arrangements until after you have secured your visa. 

You will not be able to travel to the UK, or if you are in the UK, commence employment before you have your visa. If you experience problems or delays that will affect your arrival in the UK, please contact your HR team. 

Visa application are made online visa the UKVI website.  You will need to complete the application form and demonstrate how you meet the necessary requirements for sponsorship.

You will also need to be able to prove that you can support yourself on your arrival in the UK.  The University will certify this for you on your certificate of sponsorship meaning you do not have to provide evidence of savings. This will also extend to any dependants.  

The application will require you to show you can travel and your travel history over the last 5 years. 

You may also need a to have tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country and provide a criminal record certificate from any country you’ve lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years, if you’ll be working with vulnerable people.

Once you have submitted your visa application you will need to provide biometric data and a photo for your visa. How you provide this information will depend on your nationality.

EU, EEA, and Swiss Nationals

  • You will be able to provide this information online;
  • You will not be issued with a physical visa.

Non-EEA Nationals

  • You will need to attend a visa application centre to provide this information.
  • You will be issued with a physical visa document, these will be:
    • An initial entry clearance in your passport before you travel to the UK;
    • A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to be collected once you arrive in the UK.


Some jobs require the applicant to provide an overseas criminal record certificate as part of the visa application. A criminal records certificate will need to be provided for those applying from outside the UK who are being offered a job working in:

  • education, for example teachers, education advisers and school inspectors, childminders, teaching assistants
  • healthcare, for example nurses, doctors, paramedics, managers, pharmacists, dentists and dental nurses, ophthalmic opticians
  • therapy, for example psychologists, speech and language therapists, counsellors
  • social services, for example social workers, managers, probation officers, welfare and housing officers

Those teaching in Higher Education will not require a criminal record certificate.

The Skilled Worker visa allows applicants to make use of tradeable points in order to score 20 points for salary.  One of the options available is to those who will be paid less than the minimum salary threshold is to use their PhD level qualification to obtain the necessary points, should it be relevant to their job.

If this option is to be used, Queen Mary are required to indicate this on the Certificate of Sponsorship with an explanation of how the PhD level qualification is relevant to the job in question.

If the option is not used then we enter an answer of no, even if the individual holds a job relevant PhD level qualification. 

Generally speaking, a research or academic position will meet the necessary requirements without the need to utilise tradeable points. 

Due to the UK leaving the European Union, the UK NARIC national agency function is now UK ENIC  The services is managed by Ecctis.  

Those using the service are likely to see it referred to as either UK ENIC or ECCTIS however, the Home Office still regularly refer to the service as UK NARIC on their visa pages and guidance documents.

What is UK ENIC (NARIC)?

UK ENIC is the designated United Kingdom national agency for the recognition and comparison of international qualifications and skills. It performs this official function on behalf of the UK Government. The service has been developed to ensure that the skills, competencies and qualifications of those coming to the UK to work, study, practice or settle are recognised at the appropriate level. 

When do I need to use this service?

You will need to use this service if you wish to prove one or both of the following:  

  • Your English Language Proficiency using a degree level or higher qualification, that was taught in English but is from a non-majority English speaking country;
  • That you have a job relevant PhD level qualification for the purpose of utilising tradeable points where that qualification was taught in English but is from a non-majority English speaking country.

Please note: for the purposes of qualifications, Canada is not considered a majority English speaking country.  

Three services are offered by UK ENIC:

  • Visas and Nationality (English proficiency);
  • Visas and Nationality (PhD verification); and
  • Visas and Nationality (PhD verification with English proficiency).

I need to use my degree to prove my English Language Proficiency

If you have been taught in English then you can use your degree level or higher qualification to prove this.  UK ENIC will assess your qualification and confirm if it meets the required standard to meet the English language requirements. 

Applications to the English proficiency service must be made in advance or your visa application.  The service can take up to 10 days and you will need to provide copies and translations of your degree certificate. 

I have a PhD level qualification, relevant to my job, will I need to use the PhD verification service?

You will only need to use the PhD verification service if you are utilising tradeable points. The majority of the University's PhD level roles will meet the minimum salary requirements for sponsorship.  If your role does not meet the minimum salary then you will be asked by HR for your ENIC reference number before you are issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship. 

If you have been issued with Certificate of Sponsorship and it states "No" to having a job relevant PhD then you will not need to use the PhD verification service.  

The final service PhD verification with English proficency should only be used if you are using your PhD for tradeable points and to prove your English proficiency. 

Find out more

Full details on the services available from UK ENIC, the costs, and the documents you will need to provide are available on the UK ENIC website

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