5 key differences between UK Global talent visa and skilled worker visa


By Olushola Samuel

You may be wondering if there is any significant difference between the UK skilled worker visa and Global talent visa. Yes. Many things separate them even though both enable overseas individuals to live and work in the UK, bring family members, extend their stay, and settle after a qualifying period.

The important difference are in job flexibility, visa duration, visa application fee, eligibility requirements etc. We will be exploring those differences in this article.

1. Job flexibility

The first and perhaps the most important difference between the Skilled Worker visa and the Global Talent visa is that the Skilled worker visa requires sponsorship from a UK employer with a sponsor licence, whereas the Global Talent route is unsponsored - meaning sponsorship is not required. Though the Global Talent visa does not require sponsorship in order to work in the UK, applicants must instead be endorsed by a recognised body as a leader or potential leader in their field of profession (unless they have a recognised prestigious award, in which case no endorsement is needed).

Still in job flexibility, Skilled Worker visa holders have to reapply if they change jobs or employers on a Skilled Worker visa. Global talent visa holders enjoy greater job flexibility as they can change employers without gaining permission from the Home Office before doing so. Global Talent visa holders can also choose to have their own business or become a director of a company. These cannot be done by a Skilled Worker visa holder.

In addition, for a  Global Talent visa holder, there are no restrictions on working a second job. Whereas, Skilled Worker visa  holders can take additional work for a maximum of 20 hours per week, and this must be in the same occupation as their main sponsored job (unless they have an additional job that is on the shortage occupation list).

2. Visa requirements

Skilled Worker visa applicants must be sponsored by an approved sponsor licence holder, but for Global Talent visa applicants, no sponsorship is required. Global Talent visa applicants must, however, be endorsed as a leader or potential leader in their field by an approved body (e.g. Arts Council England); this is not required for Skilled Worker visa applicants.

Skilled Worker visa applicants must have a salary of at least £25,600, £10.10 per hour, or the ‘going rate’ for their role. Some applicants may qualify for a lower salary requirement (e.g. if in a shortage occupation). There are no minimum salary requirements for the Global Talent visa.

In terms of job restrictions, Skilled Worker visa applicants must have a job on the list of eligible occupations. Global Talent visa applicants are only restricted to being a leader or potential leader in academia or research, arts and culture, and digital technology.

Global Talent visa applicants do not need to meet an English language requirement, but this is needed by those applying for settlement (ILR). Skilled Worker visa applicants must prove they can read, write, speak and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

Skilled Worker visa applicants must also have at least £1,270 available to support themselves in the UK unless exempt – this is not required for Global Talent visa applicants.

3. Visa length

Visas for Global Talent schemes normally have a duration of up to 5 years. For Skilled Worker visa applicants, this will depend on the length of the contract of employment.

Both the Skilled Worker visa and Global Talent visa can be extended/renewed as many times as required, assuming you continue to meet the eligibility requirements. In the case of the Global Talent visa, those applying for an extension must not have had their endorsement or eligible award withdrawn.

4. Visa fees

Skilled Worker visa fees

For the Skilled Worker visa, the application fee you pay depends on the length of your stay and where you apply. If applying from outside the UK and coming for up to 3 years, the fee is £625 per person. If you are coming to the UK for over 3 years, the fee is £1,235 per person. But If applying from inside the UK: and coming for up to 3 years, the application fee is £719 per person, and over 3 years, the fee payable is £1,423 per person.

Alternatively, if you have a job on the shortage occupation list, the application fee is £479 per person if coming for up to 3 years or £943 if coming for more than 3 years.

Global Talent visa fees

The Global Talent application fee is £623, and this is paid in two parts; £456 when you apply for endorsement and £167 when you apply for the visa.

Healthcare surcharge

The immigration health surcharge allows visa holders to receive healthcare from the NHS. The healthcare surcharge for both the Skilled Worker and Global Talent visa is £624 per person per year.

5. Settlement

Both Skilled Worker and Global Talent visa holders can apply indefinite leave to remain (i.e. settlement) after 5 years of continuous residence. The difference with the Global Talent visa is that you can apply for ILR after just 3 years if you were endorsed either by: 

• British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of UK Research and Innovation, or the

• Arts Council England (for UK Artist visa) or Tech Nation (for the Tech Nation visa route) - this must be as a recognised leader (‘exceptional talent’)

In summary, Global Talent visa is different from the skilled worker visa in the sense that you are not tied to any UK employer. You can become a freelancer and set up a company. All you are required to do is to bring value to society in the relevant field. You also do not need to show you have money in a bank to support yourself in the UK, and of course, do not need to take an English test or even demonstrate your education in some cases.

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