Overview of UK Visas from Poland
Polish nationals form one of the biggest ethnic minorities in the UK today, with an estimated 691,000 Polish-born people or people of Polish descent in the UK as of 2020.
Polish is also the second-most spoken language in England, and the third-most spoken language in the whole of the UK, after English and Welsh.
It’s therefore no surprise that Polish culture and influence on contemporary British life is widespread, especially so after Poland joined the EU in 2004. Many major British towns and cities have Polish communities, with Polish food shops being a common sight in many urban areas.
Even after the UK’s departure from the EU, Polish migration continues through schemes such as the EU Settlement Scheme and the UK’s various visas. Polish citizens can travel to the UK using one of these visas, with a variety of long- and short-term options available to suit applicants.
Short-Term UK Work Visas for Poles
If you’re a Polish national looking to visit or live in the UK short-term, there are a range of options available to you.
Firstly, note that Polish citizens visiting the UK for less than 6 months will not need to apply for a visa. You must, however, adhere to the Standard Visitor rules while in the UK, which include restrictions on being able to take up employment or claim public funds.
If you do wish to work in the UK however, there are a wide variety of temporary work visas available that allow for short-term work visits to the UK. These include the following:
- Seasonal Worker visa
- Charity Worker visa
- Creative Worker visa
- Youth Mobility Scheme visa
- Government Authorised Exchange visa
Note that this type of work visa is often only available to specific applicants who work in certain industries, such as horticulture and poultry production for the Seasonal Worker visa, or voluntary work for the Charity Worker visa. Because of this, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the eligibility criteria for each visa before applying.
Long-Term UK Work Visas for Poles
If you wish to work in the UK long-term with a view to settle permanently, there are a number of potential routes available.
The first of these is the Skilled Worker visa, which is the UK’s general work visa for applicants from a range of industries and professions. It allows you to come and work in the UK, as long as you have a valid job offer from an employer who can act as your sponsor, and as long as you meet minimum salary, job and English language requirements.
While the Skilled Worker visa is generally open to different types of workers, there are also visas targeted at workers in specific industries, and for different purposes. These include the following:
- Health and Care Worker visa
- Senior or Specialist Worker visa
- Scale-up Worker visa
- Minister of Religion visa
- International Sportsperson visa
As these visas are targeted at specific niches, it’s once again important to familiarise yourself with the eligibility criteria before applying to ensure that you’re eligible for your chosen visa.
All of these visas will allow you to apply for permanent settlement in the UK through indefinite leave to remain.
UK Family Visas for Poles
A Family visa will allow you to settle in the UK long-term with an eligible family member. Your family member must have some form of settlement in the UK, such as through British or Irish citizenship, or settled or pre-settled status.
Family members you can join in the UK include the following:
- Spouses, civil partners or unmarried partners of at least 2 years
- Fiancés, fiancées or proposed civil partners
- Relatives who’ll provide long-term care for you
Polish citizens need to provide a wide range of evidence to be eligible for this visa, such as evidence showing that your relationship between you and your family member is genuine. You may also have to prove that you meet accommodation, financial and English language requirements, depending on which type of Family visa you wish to apply for.
All types of Family visa will allow you to eventually apply for permanent settlement in the UK.
Can Poles Apply for the EU Settlement Scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme is the main way that EU residents, including Poles, can settle in the UK post-Brexit.
Although the main deadline for applicants for the scheme was 31 June 2021, you can still apply for scheme as long as one of the following apply:
- You have a Polish (or other EU) family member who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020
- You’re exempt from immigration control, or you stopped being exempt from immigration control after 30 June 2021
- You’re already in the UK with limited leave to enter or remain in the UK (such as if you’re here on a work or study visa) which expires after 30 June 2021
- You’re a family member of a British citizen who you lived with in the EU
- You must have lived with them in that country by 30 December 2020, and returned to the UK with them
You may also still be eligible to apply if you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying before the main deadline, such as if you had a medical condition that prevented you from applying, or you were the victim of domestic violence or modern slavery.
How Can IAS Help?
Hundreds of thousands of Polish nationals have immigrated to the UK in the past few decades, establishing a significant network and community of Polish expats across the country.
If you’re a Pole looking to move to the UK from Poland, whether for long- or short-term purposes, IAS can help.
We are a team of expert and professional immigration lawyers working within the UK and internationally. Our legal advisers are on hand to help you with any issue or concerns you may have about immigration or migration, regardless of your circumstances or background.
Whether you’re a Polish national looking for routes to work in the UK, join your spouse or family member, need assistance with the visa application process or just need to talk to an immigration professional regarding your own personal situation, we can help.
We can also help if you’re an international student looking to obtain a UK Student visa, or a Settlement visa for your relatives.
Last modified on July 17th, 2023 at 7:51 am
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All UK visa applications must be made in Poland on the Gov.uk website before you travel to the UK.
Here, you will need to fill in an application form and upload relevant supporting documents for your chosen visa.
You may also be required to attend an appointment at a visa application centre to give your biometrics information.
There is one visa application centre for Polish applicants in Warsaw.
How long you will be able to stay in the UK will depend wholly on the type of visa you have. Different visas will have different periods of validity attached to them, as well as different conditions on whether they can be extended or not.
For example, the Spouse visa will be valid for an initial 2 years and 9 months, after which you can extend it for another 2 years and 6 months. Meanwhile, the Graduate visa is valid for 2 years, but cannot be extended.
It’s important to be aware of the conditions of your specific visa to ensure that you do not overstay your allotted period of leave in the UK. If you are not found to be complying with the conditions of your visa, you may be at risk of being deported.
When visiting the UK from Poland on a short-term, visa-free visit, you will be restricted on the kinds of activities you’ll be able to carry out. However, you will be able to visit the UK:
- For tourism, such as a holiday or vacation
- To see your family or friends
- To volunteer for up to 30 days with a registered charity
- To pass through the UK to another country
- For certain business activities, such as attending a meeting or interview
- To take part in a school exchange programme
- To do a recreational course of up to 30 days, such as a dance course
- To study, do a placement or take an exam
- As an academic, senior doctor or dentist
- To access private medical treatment