Are you an ex-pat looking to step into the UK for work? This guide is everything you need to know so you can apply for the right worker visa category. UK worker visa categories are broadly divided into three main types:
- Long-term work visas
- Short-term work visas
- Work visas for high-value migrants such as investors, business development and talent visas
Who needs to apply for UK work visas?EU/EFTA nationals and non-British nationals will require a UK work visa to come for employment in the UK. The exemptions only apply to the following Categories who can work in the UK without a work permit:
- Diplomats, government ministers, soldiers, and heads of state
- Citizens of British Overseas Territories and Commonwealth countries with the UK right of abode (ROA) status
Getting a Work Permit through a Points-based Immigration – the basic requirementsAs part of the UK immigration management system for overseas migrant workers, most UK work visas form part of the Points-based immigration system. Hence, it is crucial to know the basic eligibility requirements:
- Skill level of the job
- Offer letter of job confirmation, genuineness and effectiveness from an approved sponsor
- Salary requirements
- Whether there is a shortage of workers for this occupation
- Educational qualifications
- English language skills per CEFR level
Long-term work visas and their requirementsThe following visa categories allow a pathway to permanent residency following a minimum qualifying residency period between 2 and 5 years.
- Skilled Worker visa - For highly skilled workers who meet the minimum requirements of UK PBS.
- Health and Care Worker visa - a route for the healthcare professional looking to work in NHS or Adulty Social care hubs
- Senior or Specialist Worker visa (New Global Business Mobility) – for those looking for a managerial role in the UK registered branch of the overseas company
- Minister of Religion visa (T2) - for pastors and religious scholars looking to work in the UK-based religious organisation
- International Sportsperson visa – this route is for elite athletes/ professional coaches to work in the UK sports industry
Requirements:All these visas fall under the UK PBS, so a minimum 70-points score must be met to qualify for long-term worker visas. All applicants for long-term work visas are required to meet a score of 50:
- Job in skilled shortage occupation (10 scores)
- Confirmation of offered job from UKVI approved Sponsor (20 scores)
- English Language skills at least B1 on a CEFR level ( 10 scores)
- Job satisfies the appropriate skill level (10 scores)
- Salary requirements- £25,600 or the 90% going rate, whichever is higher ( 20 scores), or between £23,040 and £25,599 (10 scores),
- PhD in a non-STEM field relevant to the job ( 10 scores) or
- PhD in STEM field relevant to the job ( 20 scores)
The application process, visa costs and period of stayYou should apply online (at least 3 months before the date of travelling to the UK) and submit the following key certified documents:
- Valid photo ID
- Sponsorship reference number
- Proof of knowledge of English, unless you are travelling from an English-speaking country
- Details of your employer
- Your job title, salary, and occupation code
- Evidence of savings, for example, bank statements
- Tuberculosis test results if you are from a country where you have to take the test
- Criminal record certificate for certain jobs
Short-term work visasShort-term visas allow the applicants to take a temporary work placement in the UK. Some of the categories are extendable while other immigration routes only will enable you to stay for up to 6 months ( maximum period of stay allowed). Temporary Work – Charity Worker visa – for the social workers looking for charity work in NGOs/ charity organisations in UK Temporary Work – Creative Worker visa – allows dancers, artists, musicians and film celebrities to work in the UK creative industry Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange visa - allows to participate in temporary work experience or training placements Temporary Work – International Agreement visa – allows diplomats and servants to work under UK international law/ treaty Temporary Work – Religious Worker visa – for non-pastoral religious workers to work temporarily in the religious sectors Temporary Work – Seasonal Worker visa – allows working in farmhouses, fruit picking, driving heavy vehicles – HGV drivers Youth Mobility Scheme visa – for young people aged between 18-24 years with a minimum of £2,530 savings and other eligibility requirements Graduate visa – For graduates to take up temporary work in the UK after finishing Graduate studies in the UK High Potential Individual (HPI) visa – The UK High Potential Individual Visa is available to recent graduates of top global universities who wish to work or are looking for work in the UK. Graduate Trainee visa (Global Business Mobility) – allows overseas workers to take part in the graduate training program for the subsequent managerial or senior worker role UK Expansion Worker visa (Global Business Mobility) – allows non-British workers to expand overseas business subsidiary/ a branch that hasn’t actively started trading yet) in the UK. Under UKEW sponsored route, you can come for temporary work either as a specialist employee or a senior manager. Secondment Worker visa (Global Business Mobility) – allows Overseas businesses can send their skilled workers for a high-value contract or investment ( at least 50 million) in the UK. Service Supplier visa (Global Business Mobility – allows overseas businesses to deploy their employees for temporary qualifying service work in the UK company. Requirements for short-term visas depend on the type of work visa. Still, the standard eligibility criteria generally apply to all short-term work visa categories- having a job offer from the UK registered employer, satisfying the minimum income requirements and paying the annual Healthcare surcharge. You can bring your dependents ( partner and children), and access basic NHS healthcare facilities.
The application process, short-term visas costs and Period of stayAs described above, the application process for all UK work visas involves submitting all the supporting documents online and getting Biometric enrolment via UK Immigration: ID App. Short-term UK work visas cost: the 2022 rates are now £259 ( Graduate Visa costs £715), plus the Healthcare surcharge. These charges are subject to change, so keep checking the gov.uk site. Period of Stay: the maximum allowable period of stay under most of the short-term visas is upto 2 years, except the graduate visa has a 3-year validity after finishing the PhD/tertiary level qualification. A seasonal worker visa has a minimum stay of no more than 6-months.
Investor, business development and talent visasInnovator visa – allows experienced business people from outside EEA who are already running a business and have innovative ideas to run business in the UK, which can lead to jobs creation and growth in the national and international markets Start-up visa – If you are a young professional with less experience but high potential to explore and expand the prospects of the UK economic market Global Talent visa – allows academic/researchers/leaders with exceptional talent or Professional leaders experts in their field, i.e Science, Engineering, Arts& Culture, Digital technology, etc to come for work in the UK Investor visa (Tier 1) – for investors who can make a substantial financial investment in the UK. To qualify for a UK Investor visa, you must have access to at least £2 million and be willing to invest your funds in actively trading UK companies.
Requirements:All these visas require endorsement from the approved endorsing body except for the Global Talent visa, which allows you to apply without approval if you have earned a Global Award in your field. Other requirements for these business work visas are:
- Be at least 18 years old
- English proficiency of usually at least B2 on CEFR scale).
- Proof of financial funds at least £1,270 in savings for the Innovator or Start-up visa.
- An Innovator visa requires you to prove the investment funds, i.e. additional £50,000 of business investment capital for setting up a new business in the UK.
- Application Process, visa costs and Period of stay
- Applications for business immigration visas are made online in a similar way as the rest of the UK worker visas.
Standard application costs ( the current rate) for all talent/business visas are:
- Innovator visa – £1,021
- Start-up visa – £363
- Global Talent visa – £608
- Start-up visas- upto 2 years
- Innovator visas- 3 years
- Global talent visas- 5 years