The UK and US share travel-related reciprocal agreements. As a result, US residents do not need visas to enter the UK for tourism purposes. They can stay in the country for up to 6 months. If you’re moving from the US to the UK for work, however, you’ll need to get a work visa.
The Skilled Worker visa is the most common UK work visa. It’s famous as it leads to settlement also known as indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Getting a Skilled Worker visa is fairly easy for US nationals compared to other countries. The US also boasts of a high-income economy so not many people want to emigrate.
Nevertheless, there are still UK visa requirements for Americans you must meet to qualify. That’s what
Overview of the Skilled Worker Visa
The Skilled Worker visa replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa in January 2021, not long after the introduction of the UK’s points-based immigration system. It covers the majority of UK jobs that allow businesses to hire overseas workers.
To apply, you need a job offer from a UK company approved by the Home Office. Your employer will also stand as your sponsor. Following the points-based system, you need to score at least 70 points to qualify.
Furthermore, not all UK job positions are eligible for the Skilled Worker visa. Most eligible jobs are professional positions that require qualifications. You can check the Home Office website for a list of eligible occupations and their codes. It’s important to consult this list before applying.
If you get your visa, you can work in the UK for 5 years. Working in the UK for up to 5 years makes you eligible to apply for settlement and get indefinite leave to remain status.
Both you and your employer have some requirements to meet.
Your employer must apply for a sponsor licence. A sponsorship licence authorises them to issue you a Certificate of Sponsorship which confirms your job offer. In addition, your job offer must satisfy a particular skill level. The Skilled Workers visa requires applicants to prove proficiency in English. However, the US is exempt since it’s a native-English-speaking country.
Another key requirement is the salary threshold. Your job should meet the general minimum salary threshold of £25,600. Some jobs, especially highly professional ones, have specific salary requirements higher than £25,600. If your job offer is less than £25,600 but higher than £20,480, you can still apply for the Skilled Worker visa if you:
- Have a Ph.D. appropriate for your job (or in a STEM subject related to your job)
- Have a job offer in a specific shortage position
Applying For The Visa
To file your Skilled Worker visa application, you must provide the following documents:
- Valid international passport or any other document to verify your US nationality
- Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer. This must contain your employer’s sponsor licence number, the certificate’s reference number, your job title, annual salary, and occupation code
- Proof of sufficient funds to support your stay, at least £1,270 (this is exempt if your employer claims the responsibility in your certificate of sponsor)
- Criminal record certificate if you work in specific occupations like education and healthcare
The visa application is online and you’ll pay an application fee. The fee is £625 if you’re to work for up to 3 years and £1,423 for more than 3 years. You’ll pay less if your job is in shortage occupation; £479 if you’re to work for up to 3 years and £943 for more than 3 years. If you get your visa, you’ll have to pay the £624 annual healthcare surcharge. You’ll pay this surcharge for each subsequent year you spend in the UK.
As a Skilled Worker visa holder, you can sponsor your family members (dependents) in the US to join you in the UK. This is known as the UK family visa process and has various pathways depending on your situation. Eligible family members include:
- Your spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner if you’ve been living together for at least 2 years before your application date
- Your child under 18 years
You’ll have to provide proof of your relationship including:
- Marriage certificate for spouse
- Civil partnership certificate for civil partner
- Bill payments or other to prove cohabitation for unmarried partner
- Birth certificate or other birth records for your child
Bringing family members along attracts extra financial requirements. Unless your sponsor claims responsibility, you need funds to prove you can support not only yourself but your dependents. Hence, in addition to the £1,270 for yourself, you’ll need to have:
- £285 for your partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
Furthermore, each family member will apply for a separate visa and also pay the visa fee. Ultimately, they’ll need your visa application number to apply. Their visas are valid so long as yours is family and expires immediately yours expires.
Extending Your Stay
When your visa expires, you can extend your stay if you meet any of the following requirements:
- You’re working in the same job position as when you came into the UK
- You’re working for the same employer that sponsored your current visa
Visa extension attracts the same fees as the initial visa application. Your family members can also apply separately for visa extension.
Indefinite Leave To Remain (Permanent Residency)
Getting indefinite leave to remain status is the final stage in moving from the US to the UK. You can apply for indefinite leave to remain if you continue to meet the salary requirements after 5 years and you’re still needed at your job.
Since you won’t undergo the English test as a US citizen, you only need to pass the Life in the UK test. The application costs £2,404. Your family can apply too if they also have lived in the UK for 5 years as your dependents. They too must each pay the application fee and pass the Life in the UK test.