When you can be paid less

You might still be able to apply for a Skilled Worker visa if your job is eligible but your salary is less than £25,600 or your job’s usual ‘going rate’. You must still be paid at least £10.10 per hour.

You can be paid between 70% and 90% of the usual going rate for your job if your salary is at least £20,480 per year and you meet one of the following criteria:

  • your job is in a shortage occupation
  • you’re under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training
  • you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to your job (if you have a relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject your salary must be at least £23,040)
  • you have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education

There are different salary rules if you work in some healthcare or education jobs.

Your job is in a shortage occupation

A ‘shortage occupation’ is a skilled job where there is a shortage of workers in the UK.

If your job is on the shortage occupation list, you can:

  • be paid 80% of the job’s usual going rate
  • pay a lower fee for your visa

View the shortage occupations list to see if your job is included and how much you’ll need to be paid.

Make sure you check there’s a shortage in the part of the UK you’ll be working in - England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

You’re under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training

You can be paid 70% of your job’s usual going rate if one of the following applies:

  • you’re under 26 on the date you apply
  • you’re currently in the UK on a Student visa studying at bachelor’s degree level or above - or you have been in the last 2 years, and a Student or visit visa was your most recent visa
  • you’re currently in the UK on a Graduate Entrepreneur visa
  • you’ll be working towards a recognised qualification in a UK regulated profession
  • you’ll be working towards full registration or chartered status in the job you’re being sponsored for

If this applies to you, check how much you’ll need to be paid to qualify for this visa.

Your total stay in the UK cannot be more than 4 years if you apply for one of these reasons. This includes any time you’ve already spent in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) work visa.

You have a PhD level qualification that’s relevant to your job

If your job is eligible for a PhD salary discount, you can be paid 80% or 90% of the job’s usual going rate, depending on which subject you are qualified in.

If you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) qualification, you can be paid 80% of your job’s usual going rate, as long as you will still be paid at least £20,480 per year.

If you have a non-STEM qualification, you can be paid 90% of your job’s usual going rate, as long as you will still be paid at least £23,040 a year.

In both situations, you must:

  • have a UK PhD or an equivalent doctorate-level overseas qualification - you’ll need to apply through Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) to check if an overseas qualification is equivalent to a UK PhD
  • be able to prove your qualification is relevant to the job you’ll be doing in the UK - your employer can confirm this

View the list of jobs that qualify for a PhD salary discount to see if your job is included and how much you need to be paid.

If you’re a research or academic leader, you may also be eligible to apply for the Global Talent visa. This visa has no language or minimum salary requirements.

You have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education

You can be paid 70% of your job’s usual going rate if you’ll be working in a postdoctoral position in certain science or higher education roles.

Your job must be in one of the following occupation codes to qualify for this salary discount:

  • 2111: chemical scientists
  • 2112: biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113: physical scientists
  • 2114: social and humanities scientists
  • 2119: natural and social science professionals that are ‘not elsewhere classified’, such as research fellows and sports scientists
  • 2311: higher education teaching professionals

If this applies to you, check how much you’ll need to be paid to qualify for this visa.

Your total stay in the UK cannot be more than 4 years if you apply to work in a postdoctoral position at 70% of the usual going rate. This includes any time you’ve already spent in the UK on a Tier 2 (General) work visa.