Expats wishing to obtain a work permit for the United Kingdom should prepare to wade through a maze of requirements and eligibility stipulations. 

Due to Brexit, the position of EU citizens remain uncertain. However, for the time being, 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.

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, though certain conditions are exempt from the cap.

Getting a work visa in the United Kingdom 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 – but 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 visa

There 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 accompanied 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 licensed to act as a sponsor for foreign workers. 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 visa than those who have a job offer from an industry sector not on the list.

To be eligible for a Tier 2 visa, expats will need to satisfy a number of requirements and provide proof of qualifications, future expected earnings, sponsorship from an employer, sufficient English language skills, and available maintenance (funds).

Expats from certain designated countries will need to take a tuberculosis test, and workers in certain fields (such as healthcare, education, therapy and social services) are required to submit a criminal record certificate.

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

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