Work Permits for the United Kingdom
European Union (EU) nationals do not need a visa to work or live in the United Kingdom, but all other foreign nationals will need a work visa.
Expats wishing to obtain a work permit for the United Kingdom should prepare to wade through a maze of requirements and eligibility stipulations.
The points-based system in the UK awards points depending on how well the applicant satisfies a particular set of criteria within a category of application.
Separate criteria for what seems like countless categories can prove overwhelming for those not used to unravelling red tape. Furthermore, only a certain number of visas are granted in total each year; intra-company transfers, those applying for a job with a salary of GBP 150,000 per year and sportspeople are exempt from the cap.
Getting a work visa in the UK as a non-EU citizen
The criteria by which work visas are issued can be difficult to understand. There are numerous schemes and skill enticements – it suffices to say that the more highly skilled and experienced an applicant is in a desirable field, the better the chances of a smooth and speedy application process. Key fields include doctors, scientists, engineers and MBAs.
Category requirements for a UK working visaThere are many different categories under which a non-EU national can apply for a UK work visa. Each has unique requirements and entitles the individual to a specific set of rights.
It is vital to note that when submitting documents for application, applicants must include the original document as well as a copy. The documents must be in English and must include contact details where appropriate. Documents in another language must be accommpanied by a certified translation of the document
The main category that expats from outside of the EU would be interested in is the Tier 2 (General) grouping.
Skilled workers with a job offer in the UK (Tier 2 General Work Visas)This category is for skilled workers who have a formal job offer made by a registered UK company. These workers must be able to prove that they can fill a gap in the workplace not adequately being satisfied by current UK citizens.
Each year the UK designates a list of prospective occupations marked by shortages; expats who are able to work in these fields have a higher chance of receiving a work permit than those who have a job offer from an industry sector not on the list.
In order to receive a work visa in this category it is necessary to have a "Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship", to speak an intermediate level of English, and to have proof of adequate funds (GBP 800 in a bank account for 90 days).
An expat's sponsoring employer must first apply to the UK Border Agency and receive approval in order to issue a "Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship". The UK Border Agency will only issue approval for a set number of visas per month.
Approval will be granted to applicants who score the highest number of points. Points are allocated based on qualifications; future expected earnings; sponsorship; English language skills; and available maintenance (funds).
Additional points are granted for the following:
- Applications for jobs on the Shortage Occupation List receive 75 points;
- Applications for which the employer conducted a Resident Labour Market Test for an occupation recognised by the UKBA as being at the PhD level receive 50 points;
- Applications for which the employer conducted a Resident Labour Market Test receive 30 points
- The foreign national’s proposed salary earns points on a sliding scale from 2 to 30 points for salaries between GBP 20,000 and GBP 149,000
It is important to consult the points based calculator on the UK Border Agency site prior to preparing any application.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.