How to Switch from a Dependent Visa to a Work Permit (skilled worker visa) in the UK

Personal Immigration
· 17 Sep 2023
· 11 mins read
Author: Jay Moghal

Table of Contents

Personal Immigration
· 17 Sep 2023
· 11 mins read
Author: Jay Moghal


If you’re looking to gain independence in the UK, switching from a dependent visa to a Skilled Worker visa (also known as a Tier-2 visa) is a crucial step. This change allows you to reside independently in the country, without relying on your family member’s right to remain. 

It’s a highly advantageous move for those seeking greater autonomy and new opportunities. However, it’s important to understand the criteria you need to meet before making this transition.

This comprehensive guide will take you step-by-step through the process of switching your dependent visa to a tier-2/skilled migrant work visa. It’ll cover all the essential eligibility criteria, the application process, and the latest updates to immigration rules recently announced by the Home Office.

Which types of dependent visas does this cover?

This information is relevant to individuals holding a variety of visas, including PBS dependent visa, Tier 2/Skilled worker dependent visa, Tier 4 Student dependent visa, Innovator visa or Scale-up dependent visa, HPI dependent visa, and Global Talent dependent visa.

Eligibility criteria for transitioning from a Dependent to a Skilled Worker Visa?

To transition from a dependent visa to a Tier-2 or Work Visa, you need to fulfil the following criteria for your new visa:

  • Secure a job offer and meet the employment requirements.
  • Possess the professional qualifications necessary for the role you’ve been offered.

Employment requirements

Job offer for dependent visa switch to work visa

A job offer

You must have an offer for a job in an eligible occupation from an employer that holds a valid UK sponsor license. Here, you can find a list of organisations licensed to sponsor workers, published by the UK government. Make sure you check this list regularly, as qualified companies and eligible occupation lists change every now and then.

Before you proceed with applying to switch from your dependent visa to a Skilled Worker visa, ensure that you have the following:

Qualifications and professional accreditations to perform your role

Aside from the job offer, you must also possess the necessary qualifications and professional accreditation required to perform the role you’ve been offered. This ensures that you have the skills and competencies to contribute effectively to your chosen occupation. Such qualifications will need to be from a reputable institution to be accepted.  

Minimum salary requirements

To be eligible for a switch to a Skilled Worker visa, you must demonstrate that your salary meets specific thresholds set by the Home Office. The specific requirements are as follows:

Minimum salary requirement:
Your application must demonstrate that you will be earning a minimum annual salary of £26,200. However, this figure may be adjusted to match the ‘going rate’ for your particular job if that amount is higher. You can find more information about the ‘going rate’ here.

Lower salary threshold

In some cases, you may qualify for a lower salary threshold of £20,960 if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Your job is on the UK shortage occupation list.
  • You are under the age of 26.
  • You are a student or recent graduate.
  • You are engaged in professional training.
  • You hold a PhD in a STEM subject.

It’s worth noting that the salary requirements for obtaining a skilled worker visa may vary depending on whether your job falls under the Healthcare or Education sectors.

English language requirements

english language test requirement for dependent visa

You’ll also need to meet English language proficiency requirements for switching to a Skilled Worker visa applicant. To pass that requirement, you must demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively in English through one of the following:

Coming from an eligible English-speaking country:

You automatically meet the English language requirement if you come from an eligible English-speaking country.

Passing an English Language Test:

Alternatively, you can meet the language requirement for switching to a skilled worker visa by passing an approved English language test that proves your ability to read, write, speak, and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. The list below includes government approved english language tests:

  • LanguageCert
  • Pearson
  • Trinity College London
  • PSI Services (UK) Ltd – Skills for English (UKVI)
  • PSI Services (UK) Ltd – Skills for English (UKVI) (Only if you’re applying from outside the UK)

English-Taught Degree:

Holding a degree-level qualification that was taught or researched in English is also acceptable as a way to fulfil your English language requirement. However, this will need to be from a university recognised by the UK.

Understanding and satisfying these eligibility criteria are essential steps towards successfully switching from a dependent visa to a Work (Tier 2) visa. We also advise you to seek guidance from immigration experts or legal professionals to navigate the application process effectively, ensuring all requirements are met. It is important to pay close attention to every detail when submitting an application. Failure to do so may result in rejection and potential issues down the line.

New Spouse income requirements (21st of Dec Announcement)

What are the costs involved?

Here is a break down the costs you’d have to pay when applying for this type of visa:

  • Application Fee: Ranging from £625 to £1,423 depending on the length of your leave (your visa)
  • Healthcare Surcharge: Typically £624 per year (this is lower for those in healthcare and education). We recommend using this form on UK’s government website to calculate the exact amount.
  • Funds to support yourself: At least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt)
  • Lower fee applies for Shortage Occupation List: Application fees may vary.

How to Switch from a dependent visa to a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK

In order to switch from your current dependent visa to a Skilled Worker visa, you’ll need to ensure the following:

  1. You have secured a valid job and have provable skills to perform it
  2. The job is offered by a current sponsor licence holder, and you have been provided with a COS (Certification of Sponsorship)
  3. You have completed and submitted your application online using the government’s online application form.
  4. Ensure you have paid the correct application fee, and healthcare surcharge (if applicable) and have enough funds to support yourself.
  5. Once your application is submitted, you will be provided with instructions to schedule an appointment with a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCA) center. At this appointment, your fingerprints and photograph will be taken to create your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
  6. After completing the necessary steps, your application will be processed by UKVI, which can typically take around 8 weeks for a decision to be made. It’s worth mentioning that you do have the option to expedite the process through the super-priority service and get a decision within 1 working day. This will fast-track your switch at an additional cost of £800.

What happens next? 

Upon approval, you will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This card will serve as your proof of immigration status in the UK. It will contain essential information, including your visa’s validity period, your right to work and study, and access to public funds if applicable.

Navigating the application process requires attention to detail and thorough documentation. Seeking professional guidance from immigration experts such as the ones at Rove Legal can greatly facilitate the process and increase your chances of a successful transition.

Benefits of Switching to a Skilled Worker Visa

Switching from a dependent visa to a Skilled Worker visa in the UK opens doors to a multitude of benefits and opportunities.

Independence in Immigration Status: One of the biggest advantages of switching to a Skilled Worker visa is gaining independence in your immigration status. As a dependent visa holder, your ability to legally remain in the UK is tied to the status of the primary visa holder, whether it be a spouse or parent. By transitioning to a Skilled Worker visa, you become an individual with your own immigration permission. 

This means:

  • Freedom to Work for a Sponsoring UK Employer: You can work freely for your sponsoring UK employer, meaning that you’re not restricted to a specific type of job. It’s also worth noting that both full-time and part-time positions are allowed.
  • Study Opportunities: A Skilled Worker visa allows you to pursue academic and vocational courses in the UK without additional study visas.
  • Travel and Reentry: Travel to and from the UK without restrictions during the validity of your visa, allowing for personal and professional travel.
  • Pathway to Settlement: After five years on a Skilled Worker visa, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), leading to permanent settlement in the UK.
  • British Citizenship: One year after holding ILR, you can apply for British citizenship, granting you full rights and privileges as a UK citizen.
  • Versatile Career Opportunities: The Skilled Worker visa provides access to various career opportunities in the UK across different sectors and industries.
  • Access to Public Funds: Eligibility for certain public funds and benefits is possible, ensuring financial stability during your stay in the UK.

Switching from a dependent visa to a Skilled Worker visa in the UK is a significant journey towards independence and new opportunities. To ensure a smooth transition, expert guidance is essential, and that’s where Rove Legal comes in.

Our experienced immigration lawyers specialise in UK visa matters, offering a range of services to make your transition seamless. From assessing your eligibility to guiding you in selecting the right visa category and assisting with the application process, we ensure that all requirements are met. We handle the submission process, provide updates throughout, and can even expedite decisions through the super-priority service.

Furthermore, we provide post-visa support to help you understand your rights and responsibilities and offer long-term planning advice for settling in the UK, including options for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and British citizenship.

You may also like:

A comprehensive guide to sponsor licence application

How much does a sponsor licence cost?


Switching from a dependent visa to a Skilled Worker visa in the UK involves meeting specific requirements such as securing a job offer, having the necessary qualifications, and adhering to salary and English language proficiency standards. The application process entails careful documentation, online submission, and subsequent steps, including biometrics collection and potential fast-tracking options. 

The benefits of making this switch are substantial, offering a pathway to independence through diverse work opportunities, access to education, and freedom to travel. It establishes a significant foundation for a fulfilling life in the UK, with options for permanent settlement and eventual citizenship. To navigate this complex procedure with assurance, it is recommended to seek advice from knowledgeable immigration professionals.

1. Can I switch from any type of dependent visa to a Skilled Worker visa?

Yes, you can switch from various types of dependent visas, including PBS dependant visas, Tier 2/Skilled Worker dependant visas, Tier 4 Student dependant visas, Innovator visas, Scale-up dependant visas, HPI visa dependant visas, and Global Talent dependant visas.

2. How long does the application process take?

The processing time for switching to a Skilled Worker visa typically takes around 8 weeks. However, you may opt for the super-priority service for a faster decision within one working day, for an additional cost of £800.

3. Can I switch to a Skilled Worker visa if my relationship with the main visa holder ends?

Yes, switching to a Skilled Worker visa provides independence in your immigration status. You can continue to live and work in the UK even if your relationship with the main visa holder ends.

4. What if my job offer is on the shortage occupation list?

If your job offer is in a shortage occupation, you may qualify for a lower salary threshold when switching to a Skilled Worker visa, potentially making it easier to meet the salary requirement.

5. Is there a limit to the number of times I can switch visas?

There is generally no set limit to the number of times you can switch visas as long as you meet the eligibility criteria for the visa you are switching to.

6. Can I apply for British citizenship after switching to a Skilled Worker visa?

Yes, after holding Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for 12 months, you may apply for British citizenship if you meet the eligibility criteria.

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About the Expert
Jay Moghal
Founder and Managing Director
With over 15 years of immigration law experience at top London firms, Jay Moghal established Rove Legal in 2020 to offer prompt, personalised services without the bureaucratic hurdles associated with larger firms.
+44 (0) 203 146 0900

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