Your right to work in the UK as a foreigner currently depends on where you are traveling from as well as what type of work you are looking to carry out. If you are coming to the UK for employment purposes, you may well need a UK work visa as well as a job offer in order to take up employment.
The UK is currently an EU member state, meaning that citizens from other EU/EFTA states have the freedom to travel to and work in the UK. However, following the Brexit vote in 2016, the situation for EU/EFTA nationals is likely to change by 2019.
For non-EU/EFTA nationals, the United Kingdom created a UK immigration points-based assessment in 2008 which controls the flow of workers from non-EU/EFTA countries as part of a managed migration process. Immigration and the right of foreigners to live and work in the UK is a heated topic and recent governments have tightened regulations, including penalizing both employers and landlords who do not carry out sufficient checks on employees and residents. Recent changes to UK work visas include increasing salary thresholds and language requirements, as well as closing some of the UK work visa categories.
Can I work in the UK sponsorship ?
If you are a citizen of an EU/EFTA country, you currently have the right to live in the UK and work without the UK work visa. All non-EU/EFTA citizens will need the UK to work visa to work in London and other areas of the country. Nationals from some countries are able to enter the UK and stay for up to 6 months without a visa but they are not permitted to do paid or unpaid work.
UK work visa requirements
If you are a non-EU/EFTA national wanting to work in the UK, you will need a work permit the UK relating to the type of work that you are doing. Most of the UK work visas require sponsorships from the UK-based employer so you will need to have secured a suitable job and sponsorship before applying for the UK work visa. UK work visas are not currently available for casual or low-skilled employment, so it is not possible to enter the UK on another type of visa and take up casual, temporary or low-skilled work.
You will also need to apply for a Biometric residence permit if you are staying in the UK for longer than 6 months.
The following groups of people are exempt from UK work visa requirements:
- Diplomats who were outside of the UK when offered the post
- Overseas government ministers on official business
- Members of Commonwealth or Overseas Territories armed forces posted to the UK
- Officials working for a head of state
If you move to the UK on a UK family visa to join relatives, you are entitled to work.
The UK immigration points-based assessment system
Your eligibility for a UK work visa is determined by the number of points you score on the UK points system. Points are awarded for the following in this system:
- Future expected earnings
- English language skills
- Self-provided funds
Types of UK work visa
The following types of UK work visa are currently available:
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa – a UK work visa for those recognized as leaders in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology and the arts. This needs to be endorsed by the UK Home Office and only 1,000 of these visas are issued each year. It is valid for up to 5 years and can be extended for another 5 years.
Tier 2 (General) visa – a UK work visa for those who have been offered a killed job (annual salary at least £25,000) and have been sponsored by licensed organization related to their employment. It is valid for up to 6 years.
Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa – A UK work visa for those whose oversea employer has offered them a transfer to a UK branch, on condition of sponsorship. The visa can be valid for between 6 months and 9 years, depending on the position offered.
Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) visa – a UK work visa for those who have been offered a job within a faith community, on condition of sponsorship. The visa is valid for up to 3 years and can be extended.
Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa – a UK work visa for elite sportspeople or qualified coaches endorsed by their sport’s national governing body. The visa is valid for up to 3 years and can be extended for a further 3 years.
Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) visa – a UK work visa for those engaging in temporary work as a charity volunteer, sports person or creative worker, religious worker, on a government authorized exchange or as part of an international agreement, providing sponsorship has been secured. The temporary UK work visa is valid for between 1 and 2 years, depending on the purpose.
Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa – a UK work visa for those aged 18-30 from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Korea or Taiwan, who have at least £1,890 in savings. The visa is valid for up to 2 years.
Domestic Workers in Private Household visa – a UK work visa for private domestic workers, who have worked for their employer for at least a year. Valid for a maximum of 6 months.
Permitted Paid Engagement visa – this is a UK visa that can be used for short-term paid work in the UK without sponsorship. Valid for 1 month.
The following types of UK work visa are available for those wanting to work in a freelance or self-employed capacity:
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa – a UK work visa for those who want to set up or run a business in the UK who have access to at least £50,000 of investment funds. The visa is valid for 3 years and can be extended for up to an additional 3 years.
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa – A UK work visa for graduates with business ideas that have been endorsed by either the UK Department for International Trade or a qualifying UK higher education institution. The visa is valid for 1 year and can be extended for a further year.
Tier 1 (Investor) visa – a UK work visa for those willing to invest at least £2 million in the UK. The visa is valid for 3 years and can be extended for a further 2 years.