Foreign nationals who wish to work in the United Kingdom must first obtain a valid visa. The process of obtaining a work visa can be complicated, so it is important to understand the requirements and how to apply.
To navigate the process much more easily, this guide will walk you through the different types of UK visas available as well as how to apply for them. So, if you’re looking to start working in the UK, keep reading for all the information you need.
Related: Post Study Work Visa
Who Can Apply for a UK Work Visa?
Anyone can apply for a UK work visa subject to meeting the necessary eligibility criteria. Since non-EU (European Union) or non-EFTA citizens are required to have a visa before working in the UK, they can choose the most appropriate visa from the different work visa types available. This route leads to indefinite leave to remain and a successful applicant and any family members (dependants) will be issued with a biometric residence permit.
Most worker visas require a certificate of sponsorship, also known as a (CoS) from a UK employer sponsor. The UK is always looking for skilled professionals.
This assures UK immigration that foreigners already have a job offer before going to the country. This is also a safeguard for both the UK and the foreign worker in terms of job security.
On the other hand, some groups are exempt from getting a UK work visa. These groups include the following:
- Diplomats who are outside of the UK when offered the job
- Foreign government ministers who will go to the UK on official business
- Armed forces who will be posted in the UK coming from Commonwealth countries or Overseas Territories
- Officials who are working for a head of state
What are the Different UK Work Visas?
There are a number of visas available that each have different eligibility requirements. To choose the correct visa applicable to your case, it’s important to know the different types of work visa categories available for foreign workers that are non-EU citizens. The following visa types are the current visas to apply for:
1. Long-term Work Visas
a. Skilled Worker Visa
This type of visa is a sponsored UK work visa which replaced the Tier 2 General Visa for skilled workers. Migrant workers usually have this type of visa because they work within an eligible skilled job. The sponsors for the Skilled Worker Visa are approved by the Home Office and must have a sponsorship licence.
b. Health and Care Worker Visa
This is a visa under the skilled worker route which allows medical professionals to work with the NHS or NHS supplier. It also allows the visa holder to work within the social care sector.
c. Intra-company Visa
Workers who are transferred by overseas employers to UK-based employers are included in this visa group. Those who would go to the UK for a graduate program also belong to this sub-group. This visa type replaced Tier 2 Long-term Staff and Graduate Trainee.
d. Minister of Religion Visa (T2)
Workers who have been offered a position within communities of faith and religion are included in this visa type. This type also requires sponsorship.
e. International Sportsperson Visa
Elite sportspeople and qualified coaches are included in this type of visa. The governing body of the sport should provide an endorsement for the visa to be applied.
2. Short-Term or Temporary Work Visas
a. Temporary Work – Charity Worker Visa
With this type of temporary work visa, a UK licensed employer can sponsor people who are sent to the UK to do voluntary and unpaid work.
b. Temporary Work – Creative Worker Visa
This visa type allows actors, musicians, film crew members, and other workers within the creative industry to enter the UK. The sponsor must also be within the said industry to be approved by immigration. This is different from the International Sportsperson Visa.
c. Temporary Work – Government Authorized Exchange Visa
Should a person require training or temporary work experience, this visa type is applicable. Successful applicants are usually under the Overseas Government Language Program, research, or fellowship which was approved by a government exchange scheme.
d. Temporary Work – Religious Worker Visa
Preachers, pastors, and other religious workers may apply for this type of visa.
e. Temporary Work – Seasonal Worker Visa
This type of visa for temporary workers allows farmhands, drivers of heavy good deliveries, and butchers to go to the UK to work.
f. Youth Mobility Scheme Visa
Only young people, or those who are between the ages of 18 to 30, can work in the UK for up to 2 years with this visa.
g. Graduate Visa
This visa is for those who are already in the UK when they applied. This allows people to stay for at least 2 years after finishing a course in the UK.
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3. Investor, Business Development and Talent Visas
a. Innovator Visa
This type of visa is applicable for foreigners who would want to run a business in the UK which is different from the other businesses.
b. Start-up Visa
This visa type is also related to the Innovator Visa in a way that the start-up business must be different from the predominant market.
c. Global Talent Visa
People aged 18 years old and above and who are in the field of academe or research, arts and culture, and digital technology may apply for this visa.
4. Other Work Visa and Exemptions
a. UK Ancestry Visa
This visa type is for those who can prove that they are Commonwealth or Zimbabwe citizens. British nationals who are overseas may also apply for this visa type. As long as they can prove that one of their grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, this type of visa may be applied.
b. Exempt Vignette
This is given to those who are exempt from applying for a worker visa.
c. Frontier Worker Permit
This visa type is applicable for those who work in the UK but live in another country.
d. British National (Overseas) Visa
British Nationals who are living permanently in Hong Kong may apply for this visa type.
e. Overseas Domestic Worker Visa
This type of visa is for domestic workers in a private household. This would normally include cleaners, chauffeurs, cooks, and nannies.
f. Representative of an Overseas Business Visa
This business type of visa applies to employees of foreign news agencies and sole representatives of businesses planning to set up a branch in the UK.
The types included here are those that are currently available for application or extension. Some types are no longer available for application such as the Entrepreneur and Investor Visas as well as the Turkish Businessperson and Turkish Worker Visas. These visa types are no longer allowing new applications.
Related: How to Get Your UK Visa Approved
How to Apply for a UK Work Visa?
When applying for a UK Work Visa, immigration has a points-based system that helps increase the chances of getting approved for the visa being applied for. The points-based system requires anyone going to the UK to meet a set of requirements. The points are awarded in terms of the person’s qualifications, expected earnings, sponsorship, English language requirements, and financial capabilities.
Under the points-based system, workers may be able to be categorized depending on their specific skill set. Through this, UK-based employers may be able to upgrade or improve their business with talents that are not available locally.
While there may be additional requirements, the usual documents required for applying for any type of workers visa in the UK are the following:
- A valid passport or a travel ID
- Documents that can show the applicant’s ability to financially support him/herself. This would include bank statements, confirmation from sponsors, savings, etc.
- English language assessment tests. The majority of English language countries would not need to undergo the English language test.
- Pay the relevant visa fees and immigration healthcare surcharge
These are just the common requirements. The application process and requirements would largely depend on the country of the applicant. For instance, some applicants from countries such as Bangladesh, China, or India would be required to undergo a tuberculosis test (or TB test) from Home Office accredited clinics. Alongside this, some documents would need to be translated to English should they be in a foreign language.
The cost of getting a UK Work Visa would depend on the specific visa type applied for. For instance, a Skilled Worker’s Visa costs about £1,408. This is not a fixed expense, as the cost would largely depend on each applicant’s circumstances. Some expenses would be due to translating services, TB tests, among others.
Though it may be difficult to apply for a UK Work Visa, the best route to apply for a UK Work Visa would be to consult with solicitors such as My Legal Services, who are already very well versed in the process of immigrating to the UK. Immigration lawyers like My Legal Services can help assist you with your concerns, should you feel overwhelmed with the application process or if you’re simply unsure of the visa process, procedure, or how to apply. We are here to help every step of the way.
Related: Skilled Worker Visa UK
If you’re looking to get a work visa in the UK, it’s important to understand the process and what’s required as well as the type of work visa or visa category needed. The best way to do this is by seeking professional help.
My Legal Services can assist with all aspects of the work visa application process, from preparing your application to representing you at your interview. We have a team of experienced lawyers who will guide you through every step of the process and make sure that your application has the best chance of being approved.
My Legal Services is well known for providing exemplary services for immigration to the UK. At My Legal Services, we pride ourselves on our high success rate and professional legal advice. Immigrating to the UK has never been easier thanks to My Legal Services!
We can help you with every part of the application process for your UK immigration and obtaining your UK Work visa from start to finish, even with refusals and appeals.
Simply contact us here or give us a call at 02037 324 736 for a free consultation or to speak to our team about your next step for starting your new life in the UK.
We can’t wait to serve you!