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To work in the UK

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Work in the UK

If you are a non-EEA or Swiss national and you are interested in working in the UK, you will need to apply for a UK Work Visa. The UK government operates a Five-Tier Points-based System for non-EEA migrants to work in the UK.

As a skilled worker, you may be able to apply for a Tier 2 (General) Work Permit. This will allow you to work in any role in which there is a current ‘skills shortage’ in the UK.

Or, if you are seeking temporary work in sectors such as the arts, charity and sports, you can enter and work in the UK using a  Tier 5 Work Visa.

These visa routes most often require your application to be sponsored by your employer. For those entering on a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, you will not need a UK sponsor, but your employer must keep a record of your time at their business.

How can IAS help you begin working in the UK?

At IAS, we have a whole team of immigration lawyers who can help you towards your goal of working in the UK. An expert immigration adviser can work one-on-one with you to assess your options and eligibility.

We will guide you through your entire Work Visa application process. If it is applicable, this will include checking your UK Sponsor’s status, arranging and obtaining your Certificate of Sponsorship from them. One of our lawyers will also devise a Letter of Recommendation for your case to be sent with your application. Contact us now on 0333 363 8577 or use our online contact form to speak with an immigration lawyer about your UK work options.

For more information on the different visa options for working in the UK, see below.

work in the uk
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Frequently Asked Questions

To be eligible for a Tier 2 Work Visa you must be intending to do work in any profession which requires a qualification or learnt skill-set. With this visa route, you can apply to enter or remain in the UK to work, provided the role you are filling cannot be filled by a UK resident.

As a foreign national applying to work within a skilled role in the UK, your intended employer must be an official UK Sponsor Licence holder. This means that they are able to legally employ foreign nationals through work visa sponsorship. If you are transferring to a UK branch of your international company, you will also need to apply for a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa.

There a four sub-branches of this visa category:

More information on Tier 2 Work Visas

To be eligible for a Tier 5 Work Visa, you must intend to work in the UK for a period of up to 12 months, as either:
  • an entertainer;
  • a sportsperson;
  • a charity worker; or
  • a diplomatic staff member (including diplomatic households).
The majority of Tier 5 workers need a job offer from a licensed UK Tier 5 Sponsor to obtain a Temporary Work Visa under this category. However, nationals from certain countries can use the Youth Mobility Scheme to gain UK entry clearance without a job offer.
Depending on the type of role you intend to fill when in the UK, the category of Tier 5 Temporary Visa applicable to you will alternate.

More information on Tier 5 Temporary Work Visas

You can apply for a Tier 2 (Sportsperson) Visa if:

  • you are a sportsperson or sports professional;
  • you are looking to work in the UK for a period longer than 12 months;
  • you are internationally established;
  • you will make a significant contribution to the development of your sport.

To apply you must score a total of 70 points under the Points-Based System. You must obtain 50 points from a Certificate of Sponsorship and endorsement from your sport’s governing body. The remaining 20 points is from satisfying the English Language ability and for having an appropriate salary.

Alternatively, if your intention is to work as a sportsperson for a period of less than 12 months, you may be eligible under the Tier 5 (Temporary workers – creative and sporting) Visa category.

More information on UK Sportsperson Visas

If you have been offered employment in the UK as a Minister of Religion, Religious Worker, a Missionary or a member of a religious order you may be eligible to apply for a Tier 2 (Religious Worker) Visa.

To apply you must score a total of 70 points on the points-based system. You must obtain 50 points for a certificate of sponsorship, and the remaining 20 points is from satisfying the English language ability and for having an appropriate salary.

More information on UK Religious Worker Visas

If you are an established UK corporation or employer and you intend to hire employees from outside of the EEA (including Switzerland), you must ensure that you obtain a Sponsorship Licence before you do so.

Failing to do so could result in a civil penalty.

If you are looking to employ skilled workers on work visa sponsorship from outside the EEA in either a permanent, long-term or temporary role, Tiers 2 & 5 will apply.

You do not need to sponsor a highly skilled migrant worker already coming to the UK under Tier 1.

It is important to note that Tier 3 of the points-based system is currently suspended so you can no longer employ low-skilled migrant workers.

Find out more about UK Sponsorship Licences