As one of the UK’s most popular immigration routes, the Skilled Worker route provides skilled migrants with the opportunity to live and work in the UK on a long term basis. It also provides a path to settlement. This means that, provided a visa-holder meets the relevant route-specific requirements, they can apply to permanently settle in the UK.
The immediate family members of the principal applicant or primary-visa-holder can also apply to accompany or join the Skilled Worker in the UK, both in the short or long term and, where applicable, on a permanent basis. This is commonly referred to as the Skilled Worker Dependent Visa. The following guide to this PBS Dependent visa, where the Skilled Worker route falls under the ‘points based system’ of the UK’s Immigration Rules, examines the various different aspects of this visa-type, from what this allows to applying to settle.
What is the Skilled Worker Dependent Visa?
The Skilled Worker Dependent Visa is the permission needed for the immediate relatives of the principal applicant or primary visa-holder on the Skilled Worker route to accompany or join them in the UK. This includes the partner or dependent child of someone applying for a Skilled Worker visa or already living in the UK with leave to remain under this route.
What does the Skilled Worker Dependent Visa allow?
If an application for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa is successful, the visa-holder will be able to undertake both work and/or pursue their studies in the UK, with few restrictions.
Even though the Skilled Worker themself must remain employed by their UK sponsor on this route, and can only undertake limited supplementary employment, their dependants can pursue any kind of work, including self-employment. The only exception to this rule is that a dependant cannot undertake work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.
However, the permission granted to a partner or child is conditional upon the permission of the primary visa-holder to be in the UK, although if a child’s parents have visas with different expiry dates, the child’s visa will end on the earlier date, so the visa expiring first.
Who is eligible for the Skilled Worker Dependent Visa?
To be eligible to apply for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa, the applicant must be either:
- the spouse or civil partner of the Skilled Worker
- their unmarried partner, provided they have lived together in a relationship akin to a marriage for at least 2 years at the date of application
- a dependent child of the Skilled Worker under the age of 18, or
- a child over 18 if they are currently in the UK as the Skilled Worker’s dependant.
Skilled Worker Dependent Visa requirements
There are various requirements that must be met to be able to apply for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa, including a relationship requirement and a financial requirement.
The relationship requirement
Under the relationship requirement, a spouse or civil partner must be in a marriage or civil partnership that is recognised in the UK. For unmarried couples, the relationship must be likened to that of a marriage, where they have already lived together for at least 2 years.
For dependent children aged 16 or over, they must live with the principal applicant or primary visa-holder, unless they are in full-time education at either boarding school, college or university. They must also be financially supported by them, and not be married or in a civil partnership, nor have any children of their own.
The financial requirement
Where an application is being made for a Skilled Worker Dependant Visa from overseas, or where the applicant is applying from inside the UK but has not lived there for more than 12 months, they must also meet a financial requirement. This means that, in addition to the £1,270 funds that the Skilled Worker will need to show to be able to support themselves on arrival in the UK, they must have proof of additional savings, unless the UK sponsor for the Skilled Worker is prepared to certify maintenance for the whole family.
For the partner of a Skilled Worker, there will need to be proof of additional funds in the sum of £285, increasing to £315 for the first dependent child and £200 for any additional child(ren). For example, if a couple apply at the same time, together with their 3 children, they would need to shows funds of £2,270 (£1,270 + £1000 for the partner and children).
How to apply for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa
To apply for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa, an online application form can be found at GOV.UK. A dependent can apply from outside the UK to accompany or follow to join their partner or parent on the Skilled Worker route. They may also be able to switch to the Skilled Worker route from inside the UK from a different type of visa.
When applying for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa, the applicant will need their partner or parent’s unique application number (UAN), which can be found on emails and letters from the Home Office in relation to the Skilled Worker’s application.
As part of the application process, each applicant will need to prove their identity in one of two ways. It may be possible to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app and upload any supporting documentation using the online system. However, the applicant may instead be asked to attend an overseas visa application centre if applying from overseas, or a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point if applying from the UK. This is so the applicant can prove their identity in person and enrol their biometric information.
Skilled Worker Dependent Visa supporting documents
When applying for a Skilled Worker Dependant Visa, the applicant will need a valid passport or other travel document to prove their nationality and identity. They will also need additional documentary evidence to prove each of the relevant requirements, including evidence of their relationship with the principal applicant or primary visa-holder.
For a partner, they must be able to prove that they are in a marriage or civil partnership that is recognised in the UK, or that they have been living together in a relationship for a minimum of 2 years. In either case, they must also be able to show that they are in a genuine and subsisting relationship. When applying as a dependent child, there will need to be evidence that they live with the Skilled Worker and are financially dependent on them.
In the context of the financial requirement, this will require proof of the relevant funds, where the applicant will need to show that they have had the required amount of money available for 28 days in a row, where day 28 must be within 31 days of the application date.
How much does a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa application cost?
The fee to apply for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa can range from £479 to £1,423, depending on where the application is made and the length of visa sought. For example, as the dependent partner of a Skilled Worker with leave in the UK for less than 3 years, the fee will be £625 when applying from overseas, increasing to £1,235 for leave for more than 3 years. In contrast, if applying to switch to this visa from inside the UK, the fee will be £719 for a visa of up to 3 years and £1,423 for a visa for more than 3 years.
However, if the Skilled Worker will be doing a job that appears on the shortage occupation list under the UK’s Immigration Rules, each applicant will benefit from a lower fee. The fee for each person applying in these circumstances will be just £479 if they will be staying in the UK for up to 3 years, and £943 if they will be staying for more than 3 years. The fee is also the same here, regardless of whether they are applying from inside or outside the UK.
Applicants for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa will also each be liable to pay an annual immigration health surcharge (IHS). This will give the successful visa-holder access to the UK’s National Health Service on broadly the same basis as a UK permanent resident.
The IHS is currently set at £624 per year of stay for partners, although this annual fee will be reduced to £470 for any dependent children under 18. For a child applying for an extension of stay in the UK on this route who has turned 18 during their last grant of leave, they will be liable to pay the surcharge at the full rate for adults of £624 per year. This means that if a dependant is granted a visa with a validity period of 3 years, they will be required to pay an IHS of £1,872, reduced to £1,410 for applicants under 18. In contrast, the same application fee for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa is payable for all ages.
How long does a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa application take?
If an application for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa is made from outside the UK, this can take up to 3 weeks to process. In contrast, if an application is made from inside the UK, a decision can take up to 8 weeks. However, provided the visa-holder has applied prior to expiry of their existing visa, they will be allowed to stay in the UK pending a decision.
Importantly, when applying from inside the UK, an applicant must not leave the Common Travel Area (CTA) while waiting for a decision, as this could risk their eligibility for a visa. The CTA is an open border area which comprises the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Equally, when making an application from overseas, where the applicant has been required to attend an overseas visa application centre to prove their identity, their passport and supporting documents may be retained while their application is processed.
In either case, it may be possible to pay for a faster decision, using either the priority or super priority service. The applicant will be told when they apply if they can pay for a faster decision, although this does not necessarily guarantee a quicker decision in all cases.
Can a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa be extended?
It is possible to extend a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa, provided the primary visa-holder is also applying to extend their stay or has already been granted further leave to remain. The applicant for a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa must also continue to meet the relevant requirements as a dependant and apply prior to expiry of their existing visa.
A Skilled Worker can be granted leave for anything up to a maximum of 5 years at a time, where this visa can be extended on an unlimited basis. This means that there is no limit to how long the primary visa-holder can stay in the UK in total, where any extension for their partner or child(ren) will be granted in line with the length of their own visa.
Importantly, if a partner or dependent child is already in the UK on a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa and their partner or parent extends their own permission to be in the UK on the Skilled Worker route, the PBS Dependent Visa will not automatically extend at the same time. Each visa-holder will need to make their own separate application.
Does a Skilled Worker Dependent Visa lead to settlement?
The Skilled Worker Dependent Visa can lead to settlement in the UK but, as with an extension for dependants under this route, the ability to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) will rest on whether their partner or parent is applying for ILR, where the permission granted to a dependant is conditional upon the permission of the primary visa-holder.
The partner of a Skilled Worker must have lived in the UK for a period of 5 years as a dependant on this route, and must also satisfy the continuous residence requirement. An applicant may also need to satisfy an English language and knowledge of life in the UK requirement. If successful, the grant of ILR will allow the primary visa-holder, together with their partner and children, to permanently live in the UK without any restrictions.
Skilled Worker Dependant Visa FAQs
Can a dependant on a Skilled Worker visa work?
Even though a Skilled Worker must remain employed by their UK sponsor on this route, the dependant of the primary visa-holder can undertake any kind of work, including self-employment or voluntary work, except as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.
Can I bring my wife to UK on Skilled Worker visa?
It is possible for the wife of a Skilled Worker to apply to accompany or join their husband in the UK on this immigration route, provided they intend to live together and she meets the financial requirement under the rules.
What is Skilled Worker Dependent Visa called?
The Skilled Worker Dependent Visa is often referred to as a ‘Dependent Visa’ or a ‘PBS Dependent Visa’, where PBS stands for ‘points based system’. This is because the Skilled Worker route comes under the UK’s points-based immigration system.
Can I bring my parents to UK on Skilled Worker visa?
It is not possible to bring parents to the UK as dependants under the Skilled Worker route.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.