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UK Work Visa from the USA

As a US national, there are various types of work visas available to you for working in the UK. However, before applying for any type of visa it is important that you know what each one entails.

For immediate assistance with your visa situation, call our immigration advisors today at 0333 305 9375. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.


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Overview of UK Work Visas for US Citizens

A UK work visa is for people who want to come to the UK for employment or self-employment purposes. You can apply for a UK work visa if you are outside of the country and have been offered a job by an employer in the United Kingdom. The same applies if you plan to start your own business here.

You might also be able to get a UK work visa if you have been offered a job in the country, or if your spouse works here as part of an international transfer within their company.

There are several different types of UK work visas that can be applied for, depending on your situation and what kind of job you are looking for. Each type has its own criteria and requirements that must be met in order to qualify.

We will discuss some of the most popular UK work visas for US citizens below. Note that this is not a comprehensive list and there may be other UK work visas available to you based on your situation.

Skilled Worker Visa

The Skilled Worker Visa is designed to allow US citizens to live and work in the UK. If you have a job offer, good English skills and can prove your ability to support yourself financially, you may be eligible to apply for this visa.

You can remain in the UK for up to 5 years with a Skilled Worker visa before it expires and you must apply for renewal. This visa allows you to work in the UK, study, take on additional work in certain circumstances, do voluntary work and travel abroad.

You can apply to settle in the UK permanently (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) after 5 years of legal residence in the UK if you meet certain eligibility requirements.

To be eligible for a Skilled Worker UK visa application, you must:

  • work for a UK employer approved by UKVI
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer which includes details about the job you have been offered
  • qualify for an eligible job in the list of occupations
  • earn a minimum salary — the amount will depend on the type of work you do
  • show that you can speak, read and write English

If you’re applying for a Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK, the standard fee is £625 per person if your stay will be up to 3 years, and £1,235 per person if it’s for more than 3 years.

It is important to apply for your visa within the 3 months of the date listed on your certificate of sponsorship (CoS). After you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 to 8 weeks.

Scale-up Worker Visa

A Scale-up Worker visa allows US citizens to work in the UK for fast-growing UK businesses. This visa was created to help UK businesses that are growing and need highly skilled workers from outside the UK to meet their needs.

To qualify for a Scale-up Worker visa, you must:

  • have a valid job offer for a minimum of 6 months
  • have a valid certificate of sponsorship
  • Meet the minimum salary requirements by earning £33,000 a year or more, earning £10.10 per hour, or getting paid at least the going rate for your occupation

With a Scale-up visa, you can stay with your current employer or change to any other employer without notifying the Home Office. You can also be self-employed.

When you apply for a Scale-up Worker visa, you will need to pay a fee of £715 and pay an annual surcharge of £624 for healthcare.

The visa is initially issued for two years, after which you can apply for a three-year extension if you meet the eligibility requirements. After five years, you can also apply to receive permanent UK residency (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’).

Senior or Specialist Worker Visa (Global Business Mobility Visa)

The Senior or Specialist Worker Visa (Global Business Mobility Visa) is for US citizens who want to come to the UK and take up a position that requires seniority or specialist knowledge.

It’s quite similar to another visa, the Skilled Worker visa, except that it has a higher salary threshold and does not allow you to settle in the UK.

The Senior or Specialist Worker Visa is a replacement for the Intra-company Transfer visa, which was previously known as the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long-term Staff visa.

The eligibility criteria for this visa are the same as those for the Skilled Worker visa, except that you must be paid at least £42,400 per year.

When you apply for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa, you’ll need to pay £625–£1,423 depending on your circumstances, and an additional fee of £624 per year for the healthcare surcharge.

You can usually apply to extend your visa from inside the UK if you still work for the same employer, your job is still the same, and you haven’t reached the maximum total stay.

High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa

The HPI visa is designed to attract high-skilled individuals with exceptional talent, skills and experience who can make a significant contribution to the UK economy.

You can apply for a High Potential Individual visa if you have been awarded a qualification from an eligible university in the last 5 years. To be eligible, you must also prove your knowledge of English and prove that you have enough savings to support yourself in the UK.

HPI visa holders can work in most jobs and look for work, be self-employed, live with their partner and children (if they are eligible), do voluntary work, and travel abroad and return to the UK.

The HPI visa will allow you to work in the UK for an initial period of up to two years. If you have a PhD or other doctoral qualification, it will last for three years. However, you cannot apply for an extension.

The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa application fee is £715. Additionally, you will need to pay Ecctis £210 to check your qualifications are valid, and pay the healthcare surcharge of £624 (payable yearly basis while in the UK).

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance on your UK Work Visa.

Government Authorised Exchange Visa (Temporary Work)

The UK Government has introduced the Government Authorised Exchange Visa (Temporary Work), which is designed to allow US citizens to work temporarily in the UK.

The visa is intended for US citizens who wish to work in the UK for up to a maximum of 24 months. In order to be eligible for this visa, you will need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • come to the country for a short time to study and/or do training, research, or a fellowship through an approved government-authorised exchange scheme
  • have a UK employer with a sponsor licence
  • have a certificate of sponsorship
  • have enough money to support yourself in the UK, you’ll usually need to have at least £1,270 available
  • provide a valid ATAS certificate (if applicable)

You will also need a letter from a government or international scholarship agency giving you permission to stay in the UK.

The application fee for a Government Authorised Exchange visa is £259. The fee is the same regardless of whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.

A Government Authorised Exchange Visa lets you study in the UK, work, have a second job (for up to 20 hours/week), and bring your partner or children over, but you cannot stay permanently.

Creative Worker Visa (Temporary Work)

The Creative Worker visa (also known as a “Temporary Work” visa) is one of the most common UK work visas. It’s designed for people who have skills and experience in creative fields (such as writing, art, and design).

To qualify for this visa, you must have a valid job offer from an employer in the UK who needs your creative skills. Creative workers are people who make their living in the creative industries—for example, actors, dancers, musicians, or crew members.

If you have this visa, you can study or work in the UK but you cannot stay here permanently and run your own business.

The application fee for this visa is £259. It must be paid before you apply.

If you have a Creative Worker visa, you can stay in the UK for up to 12 months. You can also apply to extend your visa if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Documents Needed to Apply for a UK Work Visa

In order to apply for the UK work Visa, you will need to provide the following documents:

  • a valid passport
  • your certificate of sponsorship number (this will be provided by your employer in the UK)
  • proof of your English proficiency
  • proof of funds that can cover your cost of living in the UK, plus any other expenses related to your move (such as travel costs)
  • your job title and annual salary
  • your job’s occupation code
  • proof of your relationship with your partner or children if they’ll be coming with you to the country
  • your tuberculosis test results (if you are from a country where you have to take the test)

Depending on your circumstances and the type of visa you’re applying for, you may need to provide additional documents.

How to Apply for a UK Work Visa?

In order to apply for a UK work visa, you will have to submit an online application with the UKVI.

When you apply, you will need to submit documents that prove your identity and work-related documentation. For your identity to be verified, you will need to submit photographs and fingerprints at a visa application centre.

You will also need to provide evidence that you meet all of the requirements set out by the Home Office before they will consider your application for entry into the UK.

Once you have all the necessary documents together, you’ll need to submit them through the UKVI online portal. You will need to fill out the application form, and pay for the visa fee online, along with the health surcharge.

After your application has been submitted successfully, you’ll receive an email from the Home Office confirming that your application has been received. You will also receive a reference number which you can use to track the progress of your application online.

If you have any questions about your UK Work Visa, our team is happy to assist.

UK Visas Processing Times

The type of visa you are applying for will determine how long it takes for your application to be processed. In most cases, you can expect your visa application to take between 6 to 8 weeks from the date of application to the date of approval.

This time frame can vary depending on the type of visa that you apply for.

If your application will take longer than usual to process, you will be contacted by UKVI. For example, you may have to attend an interview or have your supporting documents verified if they are unclear.

What Happens After You Apply?

If your visa application is successful, you will be given either a sticker that goes in your passport or access to view your immigration status information online.

Your vignette, or online immigration status information, will show you what kind of visa you have (for example, a Skilled Worker visa), when it was granted (start and end dates), and your visa conditions.

If your application is turned down, you will get a letter or an email telling you why. If you receive a refusal letter from UKVI, it will explain whether you have the right to either an administrative review or an immigration decision appeal.

If you have any questions about your UK Work Visa, our team is happy to assist.

How can IAS Help

If you’re a US citizen looking to work in the UK, we can help.

At IAS, we understand that it can be a daunting process to obtain a UK work visa. That’s why our team of experts will be with you every step of the way, from initial application through to completion.

Our team will help you determine what type of visa is best suited for your situation and provide guidance on how to apply for it. We’ll also make sure you have all the paperwork in order and provide legal advice if needed. We can also provide advice on filling out forms and preparing for interviews if needed.

We believe in transparency and making sure that everything is clear from start to finish. You don’t want surprises when it comes to your immigration status.

Reach out to our team of immigration experts at 0333 305 9375 for immediate assistance with your visa situation. Our advisors are ready to help you in person, via the phone, or online.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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