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Employment Opportunities: A Guide To Work Permits In The UK

By IntFormalities
Published on September 1, 2023
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Due to a skill shortage and an ageing population, the UK welcomes people from overseas to work and live in the country. However, work permits have different requirements which may be easier to meet for people from certain countries and those with in-demand skills. If you wish to discover more about work permit requisites, this article will cover all the particulars in detail. 

Who needs a work permit in the UK?

Working in the UK: Visa Types

A work permit is another term for a work visa. Over 20 different types of visas are available for anyone who wishes to migrate to the UK for work purposes. Work visas can be classified into 3 groups:

  1. Popular work visas
  2. Visas without a job offer
  3. Other work visas

Popular work visas and visas without a job offer are by far the most requested visas. We’ll look at these two groups in detail below and briefly examine the other work visa categories. 

Many people come to the UK to work using 2 types of visas: the Health / Care Worker and the Skilled Worker Visa. The scheme operates due to a massive skill shortage in these job sectors. The applicant must have a job offer before entering the country. 

Both of these visas are valid for up to 5 years. After this time, it is possible to apply for Indefinite leave to remain. You will need to apply from outside the UK unless you are in the UK and extending the visa or changing to another visa. 

The costs associated with these visas are:

  • Application cost between £625 to £1,423, 
  • An annual health surcharge of £624 (the cost to use the NHS for medical treatment),
  • Will need to hold a balance of £1,270 on arrival to support themself.

To apply, you will need a valid passport, a certificate of sponsorship, and the job occupation code. Proof that the applicant can read, write, and speak English to a good standard is also required. The application process takes around 3 months to complete

Health / Care Worker Visa

A Health / Care Worker Visa enables professionals from the medical field to arrive in the UK and work within the NHS, adult social care, or an NHS supplier. The applicant must be suitably qualified in health or social care (for example, as a doctor, nurse, etc.) They must earn a minimum salary and require a ‘certificate of sponsorship‘ from their employer. 

Skilled Workers Visa 

A Skilled Worker Visa (previously known as the tier 2 visa) enables an individual to enter the UK and work in a qualifying job with an authorised employer. A vast range of jobs falls into this category in sectors ranging from Arts and Science to Engineering. 

Sponsorship from the employer is required, and fees are involved in obtaining this permit to work in the UK.

2. Visas Without a Job Offer

Certain visas are available without a job offer. After receiving one of these visas, you can enter the country and find a job. The visas that fall under this remit include the following:

British National (Overseas) Visa 

Available to people from Hong Kong who are British nationals (Overseas). An application can be made to live and work in the UK for 2.5 or 5 years. The applicant is able to apply for themselves, their spouse, and dependents under the age of 18.

To apply, you must be able to show the following documents:

  • A passport or other travel documents to prove nationality and identity
  • Proof of a permanent home in the UK, Channel Islands, Hong Kong, or Isle Of Man
  • A Tuberculosis test certificate
  • Proof that the applicant has enough funds to support themselves in the UK
  • Proof of relationship with family members (e.g., marriage and birth certificates)

You will also need to pay:

  • An application fee of £180 for a 2.5-year visa or £250 if applying for 5 years
  • Health surcharge of £1,560 for a 2.5-year visa and £3,120 for 5 years

Graduate Visa

Those with a student visa who graduate in the UK can apply for a Graduate visa. This permit allows the holder to stay in the UK for 2 years after graduation. During this period, successful applicants can live and work in the country.

To apply, you will need the following documents:

  • A passport or other travel documents
  • A Biometric residence permit (BRP)
  • Acceptance for Studies reference number (provided with the previous student visa)
  • A written letter from the sponsorship or scholarship provider if they paid for living costs or course fees in the previous 12 months

The costs associated with this visa are as follow:

  • An application fee of £715
  • Health surcharge of £624 per year

Youth Mobility Scheme Visa 

Applicable to people between the ages of 18 to 30 from certain countries in Asia, Australasia, Europe, and North America. The visa is valid for 2 years and has an application fee of £259 and a health surcharge of £624. Find out more about this visa scheme here.

India Young Professionals Scheme Visa

This visa scheme is open to citizens from India who are aged 18 to 30. Like the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa, it is valid for 2 years. The difference is that the candidate must be qualified to at least a bachelor’s degree level and need to hold £2,530 in savings. The applicant must not be responsible for any dependents under the age of 18.

To apply, the following documentation is required:

  • A passport or other travel documents
  • Evidence to show £2,530 in savings (for example, bank statements)
  • Evidence to prove qualifications
  • A police report with a blank criminal record
  • A Tuberculosis test certificate

You must also pay:

  • An application fee of £259
  • Health surcharge of £940 per year

Global Talent Visa 

No matter where a person is from, if they are a leader in research, academia, digital technology, or the arts and culture, they can apply for this visa. Successful applicants can live and work in the UK for 5 years.

Application for this visa is only possible after applying for an endorsement to prove leadership qualities in their chosen field. Candidates need to contact the Home Office for an endorsement application which will be reviewed by an “endorsement body.” After successfully receiving an endorsement, the applicant will need the following documents:

  • A passport or other travel documents
  • A Tuberculosis test certificate (if the applicant is from any of these countries)

Applicants must pay the following:

  • An application fee of £623 (split into £167 for the visa and £456 to apply for an endorsement to verify their talent)
  • Health surcharge of £624 per year

UK Ancestry Visa 

The visa is valid for 5 years. To qualify, you must have the means to support yourself while in the UK and be any of the following:

  • British overseas citizen
  • British overseas territories citizen
  • British national (overseas)
  • Commonwealth citizen or 
  • Citizen of Zimbabwe

To apply, you will need the following documents:

  • A valid passport or other travel documents
  • Applicant’s birth certificate and the birth certificate of the applicant’s parents and grandparents to prove ancestry
  • Evidence to suggest the individual is coming to the UK to work (for e.g., job offers)
  • Evidence to verify the applicant has the financial means to support themselves and their family (for example, bank statements)
  • Marriage certificate if the spouse is coming to the UK
  • A Tuberculosis test certificate

You can bring your spouse and dependents to the UK with this visa. The fees you must pay are as follows:

  • £531 application fee
  • A variable health surcharge based on the number of people in the family (find your exact cost on this UK government website).

High Potential Individual Visa 

People with qualifications from eligible academic institutions in the last 5 years can apply for a High Potential Individual Visa. The list of qualifying universities can be found here. The visa lasts for a maximum of 2 years, and the applicant can bring their spouse and dependent children to the UK with the visa.

Before applying, the candidate must contact Ecctis to check the validity of their qualification. Ecctis is one of the world’s leading companies involved in evaluating skills and qualifications. Additionally, the following are required:

  • A passport or other travel documents
  • Proof of English proficiency

You must also pay the required fees:

  • £715 application feed plus a further £210 to check qualifications
  • £624 per year for the health surcharge
What is a graduate visa?
Graduate visas allow you to live and work in the UK for 2 years after graduation

3. Other Visas

Other UK work visas are also available, and they fall under these categories:

  • Working For An Overseas Employer
  • Temporary Working Visas
  • The Innovative Business Visa

There are a total of 16 visas that fall into these 3 groups. However, compared to “popular work visas” and “visas without a job offer” (from above), these types of visas are not widely used. The only exception is the “Seasonal Work Visa.” If you are interested in any of these 16 visas, they are listed below:

Seasonal Work Visa

Open to horticulture (for 6 months of the year) and poultry workers (valid from October to the end of December). Applicants must meet these conditions:

  • Hold a passport or other travel documents
  • Have a UK sponsor who holds a certificate of sponsorship
  • Hold a minimum of £1,270 to support themselves before arriving in the UK 

Applications are possible online, with the need to visit an application centre to complete the process. The popularity of the seasonal work visa has exploded since the UK left the EU through Brexit. Before Brexit, the UK and the EU enjoyed freedom of movement, and huge numbers of seasonal workers came to the country for work without any visa requirements. 

New job opportunities in the UK

A work permit represents a range of opportunities for individuals seeking to work and live in the country. The diverse array of work visas available not only allows individuals to pursue their careers in a thriving economy but also offers a chance to experience the rich cultural heritage and lifestyle that the UK has to offer. With careful planning and adherence to the specific visa requirements, you can embark on a rewarding journey to work and thrive in the United Kingdom.

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