Requirements for Sponsorship

Below is an overview of the requirements for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker route.

Skilled Worker salary threshold changes

New Skilled Worker applicants from 4 April 2024 will have to meet new higher salary thresholds but SIT expects that most roles the commonly see within the collegiate University should still be sponsorable, but with tradeable points having to be relied on more often.

The new higher salary thresholds do not apply to existing Skilled Worker visa holders from before 4 April 2024; Instead updated existing salary thredholds will apply when they apply to extend their vsia, for a new visa for a new role (here or with a different employer/ sponsors), and when they later apply for ILR.


The Skilled Worker CoS application form, which the employing department/ faculty/ college submits to the Staff Immigration Team (SIT), lays out the required information and documentation that allows us to demonstrate to the Home Office that the requirements have been met. These details are crucial when issuing the Certificate of Sponsorship, when the applicant applies for the Skilled Worker visa, and during any compliance visit made by the Home Office.

During sponsorship it is important that changes to a Skilled Worker visa holders employment is reported to SIT.

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A genuine vacancy is when the

  • individual performs the specific duties and responsibilities listed on the CoS
  • role does not include dissimilar or predominately lower skilled duties
  • role is appropriate to the Universities scope and plan

The Home Office details that a role could not be considered genuine if

  • duties in the job description have been exaggerated or incorrectly listed in order to make the role look like it is eligible for sponsorship
  • the job adverts have requirements that are inappropriate for the job, for example a language skill which is not relevant
  • the job has been primarily created to enable an overseas worker to come the UK.

Recruitment information

As the Tier 2 advertising requirements no longer apply, printouts of adverts and copies of recruitment documents are no longer required with a Skilled Worker CoS application. Home Office guidance does makes clear, however, that some information about the recruitment to the role must be retained. Our 'Skilled Worker initial CoS' application form, found on our ‘Forms and guidance’ page, lays out the required recruitment information. In the event of a Home Office audit we will rely on some of the vacancy information held in CoreHR for University roles. Departments/ faculty should ensure the normal steps are taken to update and close vacancies.

Job Description 

It is important that the job description accurately reflects the requirements of the role, and that the applicant's qualifications, skills and experience meet the selection criteria detailed in the job description. 


It is not possible to sponsor an applicant who does not hold the qualifications required as described in the job description, as they would not be considered to be suitably qualified to take up the role.

To ensure consistency and compliance, four clearly defined options are provided below for listing the qualifications required for any role, along with the evidence that must be submitted to the Staff Immigration team with a Skilled Worker CoS application.


Qualification required   Evidence which must be submitted with the CoS application
‘Hold a PhD/ DPhil in…’   

EITHER a copy of the PhD/DPhil award certificate 

OR an academic reference confirming the qualification has been awarded.

PLEASE NOTE: if 'post qualification experience' is also listed it will not be possible to sponsor someone who has just finished their PhD/DPhil/doctorate. 

‘Hold, or be close to completion of, a PhD/DPhil in…’   

EITHER a copy of the PhD/ DPhil award certificate; 

OR an academic reference confirming qualification has been awarded; 

OR an academic reference confirming the thesis has been submitted, if they have not yet completed. 

‘Hold a Bachelor’s Degree (or Master’s) in…’ as essential with ‘Hold a PhD/DPhil in…’ as desirable   

EITHER a copy of the Degree (or Masters) award certificate; 

OR an academic reference confirming Degree (or Masters) has been awarded. 

‘Hold a PhD/DPhil in…’ with the possibility to underfill if they instead ‘Hold a Bachelor’s Degree (or Master’s) in…’ 


Standard underfill wording: 

Whilst the role is a grade Y (£- £ p.a.) position, we would be willing to consider candidates with potential but less experience who are seeking a development opportunity, for which an initial appointment would be at grade X (£- £ p.a.) with the responsibilities adjusted accordingly. This would be discussed with applicants at interview/appointment where appropriate. 


EITHER a copy of the award certificate; 

OR an academic reference confirming qualification has been awarded. 


Those with the substantive qualification would be appointed on substantive grade. Those with the lower qualification would be appointed one grade lower, with a specific adjustment of duties and development plan setting clear milestones which must be met (including award of a PhD/DPhil, if applicable) before promotion to the substantive grade, normally within one year. 


Changes in job title & salary etc. on promotion to the substantive grade must then be reported to SIT. 


Please refer to Personnel guidance on Underfilling of posts for more information:

Comment on ‘equivalent experience’ 

If including ‘or equivalent experience’, options of what might be accepted as equivalent should be discussed/ explored when drafting the adverts and job description. 

Where a Skilled Worker applicant is seeking to rely on ‘equivalent experience’ in lieu of a qualification, references (normally from their current employer) would be required which specifically detailed the applicant’s research (or other activities) and explained how these are considered equivalent to the qualification in question. 


Research towards an, as yet incomplete, Masters or PhD/DPhil cannot be relied on as equivalent to holding these qualifications. 


The SIT guide for recommended qualification wording provides a printable summary of this information.



The role must be considered to be skilled to at least A-Level or equivalent.

The Home Office maintains a list of occupations for which sponsorship can be provided, entitled Eligible occupation codes. The main duties detailed on the job description for the role is compared to this list to identify the correct occupation.  It is not based on the job title, but the actual activities the role will entail. The Staff Immigration Team can confirm which occupation code is appropriate for any particular role if a copy of the job description is provided. Departments, faculties, colleges, are not expected to review all the codes and SIT will make the decision on what code is appropriate to ensure consistency across the collegiate University and compliance with the requirements, as the wrong choice of occupation code could be seen as a compliance issue.

The following roles are the most commonly sponsored occupations:

  • Researchers - Academics who are undertaking independent research. This includes positions like 'Postdoctoral Researchers', 'Senior Research Associates' and 'Research Assistants' (depending on their level of autonomy). Researchers may also undertake some teaching as long as this is mentioned in their job description and the Certificate of Sponsorship
  • Higher Education Teaching – Teaching staff at undergraduate level or above, who may also undertake research activities

Additionally, roles outside of research and teaching may include, but are not limited to

  • Actuaries, economists and statisticians
  • Laboratory technicians
  • Engineering, electrical technicians
  • IT Specialists, including technicians and user support
  • Public relations professionals
  • Librarians and curators
  • Office managers
  • Senior Research Managers
  • Graphic designers


The Skilled Worker salary thresholds and calculations can be complex so the following details are provided for information but SIT expects that for most roles the salaries offered will meet the thresholds. SIT will raise and discuss these issues when reviewing any applications where tradeable points may need to be relied on.

Going Rate 

Each occupation which is eligible for sponsorship under the Skilled Worker visa has a specific 'going rate' based on a 37.5 hour working week. This can be pro-rated for other working patterns, based on the hours of work the individual will undertake.

The salary must meet or exceed the 'going rate' specific to the occupation, and a minimum salary threshold, but if the applicant meets the requirements for New Entrant or other tradeable points mentioned below lower versions of these thresholds apply.

New Entrant

Individuals can be sponsored as a ‘New Entrant’ if:

  • they are under the age 26 when applying for the Skilled Worker visa; OR
  • they hold or last held (within the past 2 years) a Student (Tier 4) visa and they have completed a UK bachelor, masters degree, or at least 12 months study towards a UK PhD; OR
  • they are switching within the UK from a Graduate visa; OR
  • the job offer is a postdoctoral position in codes including 2311 for higher education teaching professionals or 2119 used by the University for all postdoctoral researcher positions;

and crucially:

  • as long as the length of the role they are offered, when combined with any time they have already spent under Tier 2/ Skilled Worker and/or Graduate visas, does not exceed 4 years.

Other Tradeable Points 

Some occupations can have a lower salary requirement where tradeable points can be obtained:



The role is in a shortage occupation which appears on the Immigration Salary List

Individual holds a PhD in a subject relevant to the job (for certain occupations)

Individual holds a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job (for certain occupations)


If tradeable points for holding a PhD or STEM PhD are being relied upon, the Certificate of Sponsorship the Staff Immigration Team issue will confirm how the PhD is relevant to the job, and if applicable that it is a PhD in a STEM subject.

A PhD taught overseas will require a 'PhD verification' certificate from UK ENIC (which was called UK NARIC until March 2021) confirming that the qualification is equivalent to a UK PhD. The UK ENIC code will need to be added to the CoS.


Only guaranteed basic gross pay can be relied upon to meet the salary requirements. Allowances cannot be included.

Part-time working

It can be more difficult for sponsorship to be provided for part-time appointments. The part-time salary must meet the relevent minimum salary threshold. As these salary thresholds and tradeable points can be complex to assess you are not expected to know or work these out. Please get in touch with your Staff Immigration Adviser to discuss specific cases.

The following points must be met to satisfy the employment requirements for sponsorship

  • the sponsored individuals must hold a contract of employment with a University of Oxford department or an Oxford college and be paid via payroll
  • the salary must be paid into the individual's own personal bank account. Payments in cash are not permitted
  • sponsorship is provided in line with the employment duration, as stated on the contract of employment

Contact us

Medical Sciences / Humanities / GLAM / UAS / Continuing Education

Angelina Pelova, Email: 

Paul Deeble, Email:


MPLS / Social Sciences / Colleges

Lyn Davis, Email:

Richard Birt, Email:




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