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UK Work Visa: Eligibility, Types, and How to Apply
9 min read
Updated on May 14, 2024

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the UK Work Visa - your key to unlocking a world of professional opportunities in one of the globe's most dynamic and historically rich countries. The United Kingdom, known for its fascinating blend of historical landmarks and cutting-edge urban landscapes, is also a thriving hub for diverse career prospects.

Whether you're drawn to the bustling streets of London, the scholarly ambiance of Oxford, or the industrial heritage of Manchester, the UK promises a unique blend of cultural and professional experiences. We don’t offer this visa, but this article will provide all the information you need to get a UK Work Visa smoothly.

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Overview of the UK Work Visa

For non-UK residents seeking employment opportunities in the United Kingdom, acquiring a UK Work Visa is crucial. This visa category encompasses various types tailored to different professional needs and circumstances. These include visas for skilled workers, intra-company transfers, temporary workers, healthcare professionals, and individuals with exceptional talents or skills in specific sectors.

The eligibility criteria for UK work visas vary, generally involving factors like having a job offer from a UK employer, meeting the skill level and salary requirements, and sometimes, the need for a sponsorship certificate from a UK-based employer.

Types of UK work visas

Embarking on a new career journey in the UK is an exciting prospect! To help you find your footing, let's explore the different types of UK Work Visas. Each visa caters to specific professional needs, ensuring that whatever your career path or ambition, you have a route.

Tier 2 (General) Visa: Skilled Work Visa

The Skilled Work Visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.

Who it's for: Skilled workers outside the EEA and Switzerland with a UK job offer.

Validity: Up to 5 years and 14 days, or as specified on your sponsorship certificate plus one month.

Key points:

  • Need a job offer from a licensed UK employer.

  • Must have a Certificate of Sponsorship.

  • Prove your English language skills.

  • Do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations.

  • Be paid a minimum salary - how much depends on the type of work you do, at least £26,200 per year or £10.75 per hour.

Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Visa: Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

The Senior/Specialist Worker Visa has replaced the Intra-company Transfer visa, previously the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long-term Staff visa. This visa is part of the Global Business Mobility category.

Who it's for: Multinational company employees transfer to a UK branch.

Validity: Up to 5 years for Long-term Staff, nine years for higher earners, and up to 12 months for Graduate Trainees.

Key points:

  • Have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer.

  • Meet the English language requirements.

  • Qualified to perform a job on the list of eligible occupations.

  • Be paid at least £45,800 per year

Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Visa: Government Authorised Exchange visa

Who it's for: For those who want to go to the UK for a short time for work experience or to do training, an Overseas Government Language Programme, research, or a fellowship through an approved government-authorized exchange scheme.

Validity: Generally 12 to 24 months, depending on the role.

Key points:

  • Need a Certificate of Sponsorship from a licensed sponsor.

  • Provide evidence of financial self-sufficiency – you’ll usually need at least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt)

  • Covers a range of temporary work sectors.

  • Your employer must ensure your job pays at least the minimum wage and follows the UK rules for how many hours a week you work.

Health and Care Worker Visa

Who it's for: This visa is for medical professionals like doctors and nurses offered a job in the UK health sector.

Validity: Up to 5 years.

Key Points:

  • Offers a faster application process and reduced fees.

  • You must be a qualified doctor, nurse, health professional, or adult social care professional.

  • Work for a UK employer approved by the Home Office

  • Have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK.

  • Be paid a minimum salary - how much depends on your work type.

Global Talent Visa

You can apply without a job offer for this visa.

Who it's for: Recognized or potential leaders in science, humanities, arts, digital technology, and research.

Validity: Up to 5 years, with flexibility in duration.

Key points:

  • Needs an endorsement from a recognized UK body in your field. Check out which awards are eligible.

  • Ideal for those with exceptional talents wishing to work independently or with an organization in the UK.

  • You must also be at least 18 years old.

These are just a few of the UK work visa types. Visit the UK government website to see all the options and their specificities.

If you plan to travel to the United Kingdom for tourism or business, learn more about UK visa types and rely on our services to get them easily.

General requirements for all applicants

While each visa type has its specific criteria, there are some common criteria that all requirements must fulfill. Let's dive into what you generally need to consider, no matter which UK Work Visa you aim for.

List the specific criteria for different UK Work Visa types

Job offer: There are just a few visa types that you can apply for without a job offer, such as a Global Talent visa and a UK Ancestry visa. Most work visas require a job offer from a UK employer.

Sponsorship Certificate: For many visas, your UK employer must provide a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Skill level: Certain visas require you to have a job offer in a skilled occupation.

Salary Threshold: Some visas have minimum salary requirements that your job offer must meet.

Occupation Type: Depending on the visa, specific occupations or sectors may be eligible.

Language requirements

Nearly all work visas require you to prove your knowledge of English. You must prove you can read, write, speak, and understand English to at least level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ( CEFR ) scale.

You can prove your English level through:

  • Passing an approved English language test.

  • Having a degree taught in English.

  • Being a national of an English-speaking country.

Minimum Bank Balance for UK Work Visa

There is no general minimum work balance for a UK Work Visa. You must show that you can support yourself financially in the UK. Depending on the visa, you must provide proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay, like a Temporary Worker, or meet minimum salary requirements according to your job.

The exact amount varies, but generally, the UK government wants to see that you’ll have enough money to cover:

  • Your living expenses.

  • The cost of your return or onward journey.

  • The cost of your dependents, if applicable.

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UK Work Visa: Application process

Unfortunately, we don’t offer this visa. Navigating the application process for a UK Work Visa can seem daunting, but understanding the general steps can make the journey smoother. While the process may vary slightly depending on the specific visa type, there are some common stages most applicants will go through.

Step-by-step guide on how to apply for a UK Work Visa

  1. Determine the correct visa type: Choose the visa category that fits your situation, job offer, and purpose of visit.

  2. Certificate of Sponsorship: Get a Certificate of Sponsorship from your UK employer if required.

  3. Prepare your documents: Gather all the necessary documents for your visa application.

  4. Submit your application and pay the visa fee: Complete the online application form on the UK Visas and Immigration website or go to the nearest UK Embassy and pay the visa fees. It may be required to pay the healthcare surcharge, provide your fingerprints, and attend an interview, depending on your circumstances.

  5. Wait for a decision: The processing time varies, so wait for the decision on your application.

Documents required for a UK Work Visa application

Remember the required documents vary according to the visa type. Generally, here is what you need to apply for a UK Work Visa:

  • Valid passport or travel document.

  • Proof of English language proficiency.

  • Job offer details (including salary and job title).

  • Bank statements to show you have enough funds (if applicable).

  • Certificate of Sponsorship (if applicable).

UK Work Visa application fees

The application fees vary depending on the visa type and duration. It includes the cost of processing your application and may involve a healthcare surcharge. Check the government website for further details.

UK Work Visa Processing Times

Processing times can vary, but typically, you can expect a decision:

  • Within three weeks if you're applying from outside the UK.

  • Within eight weeks if you're applying from within the UK.

Remember, these steps and requirements are a general guide. For specific details about your chosen visa type, including precise fees, document requirements, and processing times, it’s always best to check the official UK government website. Each visa has its unique set of guidelines, so ensure you follow the instructions relevant to your application.

Working in the United Kingdom

Working in the UK is a dream for many, offering a chance for professional growth while experiencing the country's rich culture. Before taking this big step, it’s essential to understand the rights, restrictions, and practical aspects of living in the UK under a work visa. Let's delve into the key points that will help you navigate your life as a working expatriate in the UK.

Rights and restrictions under UK Work Visas

  • Employment: Most work visas allow you to work in the job your visa was issued for. So, changing the job or career may be complicated once you’re in the UK. Some visas allow for a change in employment, which may require applying for a new visa.

  • Business ventures: If you have entrepreneurial aspirations, hold on! Usually, you can’t start a business or self-employment as a UK work visa holder.

  • Study: Want to learn something new? Most work visas let you study, but check if there are any conditions attached.

  • Travel freedom: Need a holiday or want to travel back home? You can leave the UK and return as long as your visa is valid.

Access to public funds and services

While living and working in the UK, knowing about your access to public services and funds is essential. Here's a friendly guide to what you can expect:

  • Healthcare benefits: As a work visa holder, you typically have access to the National Health Service (NHS), so you can receive healthcare just like a UK resident.

  • Public education for kids: If you bring your family, your children can attend public schools in the UK.

  • Limited public funds: Generally, work visa holders don’t have access to public funds. This means certain benefits, like housing assistance or unemployment benefits, aren’t usually available.

  • Council services: You can use local council services, like libraries and sports facilities.

Details about bringing family members

Many work visas allow you to bring family members (dependents), including your spouse, partner, and children under 18.

  • Application process: Dependents must apply for their visas separately, but they can submit their application simultaneously with yours.

  • Work and study rights: In most cases, dependents can work and study in the UK.

UK Work Visa extensions

Need to extend your stay in the UK? Here’s a friendly guide on how visa extensions work:

  • Check your eligibility: First, see if your work visa type allows for an extension. Different visas have different rules.

  • Time to apply: If you're eligible, you must apply before your current visa expires. Don't leave it to the last minute!

  • Meeting the requirements: Like your first application, you’ll need to meet specific criteria for your extension. This could include things like your job status or salary.

  • Plan ahead: Visa extensions add more time to your UK journey. This is important, especially if you’re thinking about long-term plans like permanent residency in the future.

Remember, these are general guidelines. For detailed information on your situation, refer to the guidelines for your specific visa category. Working in the UK is about experiencing life in a new and vibrant environment, and being well-informed is the key to making the most of this exciting opportunity.

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