UK Work Permit: Requirements, Free Tips, How To Apply and Cost (2022)

If you want to come to the UK for more than six months (or for longer than three months in some circumstances) on a temporary basis, then you will need to apply for an entry clearance visa. This is also known as a ‘visitor’s visa‘ or ‘entry clearance’.

If you’re already in the UK with permission to stay (for example, if you’re studying or have been granted refugee status), then you can apply for a variation of leave or extension of stay.

To meet the requirements for entry clearance, there are different types of work visas that allow people with specific skills or qualifications (and sometimes those without) to come and work in the UK.

UK work permit: Requirements, Free Tips, How To Apply and Cost (2022)

All foreign nationals must now have a visa in order to enter the UK and work there. The inhabitants of a number of nations, including those in the EU/EFTA, Australia, Canada, Japan, and the US, do not need to obtain a visa in order to enter the UK and remain there for up to six months. However, if they want to work, they must apply for a work visa to the UK.

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The need for a UK visa does not apply to all diplomats, government ministers, soldiers, or leaders of the state. In addition, those from Commonwealth nations and British Overseas Territories who are eligible for the UK right of abode (ROA) don’t require a visa to reside and work in the UK.

You could be permitted to work in the UK if you enter on another type of visa, like a study or family visa. You should thus review the conditions of your visa. You can also check your UK visa requirements here.

Types of UK work visas

There are three general types of UK work visas, each with several subcategories. In the United Kingdom, the most common types of work visas are:

  • Short-term UK work visas
  • Long-term UK work visas
  • Entrepreneur, business start-up, and talent visas

Short-term UK work visas

A short-term UK visa is one that allows you to come to the UK for a specific purpose and stay for a limited period of time – usually less than six months or a year. They are designed to be used by people who don’t intend to settle in the UK permanently but want to visit, study or work in the country for a short period of time.

There are many different types of short-term visas and it’s important that you understand which one is right for your needs before applying.

The current short-term UK work visas are:

Requirements:

Aside from the job criteria associated with the type of short-term visa, you will often need to have been given a position by a licensed sponsoring firm. You will also need at least £1,270 in funds to support yourself during your stay in most situations. Some short-term visas additionally require that you be at least 18 years old.

It is important to note that most short-term UK work visas do not allow you to use public funds such as unemployment benefits.

You can, however, get free healthcare through the NHS, albeit you will normally have to pay the healthcare surcharge, which is presently up to £624 per year. Your partner and any dependent children can usually accompany you, though they will need to apply for separate visas.

How To Apply

You can apply online (see the specific links above) or at one of the UK visa application centres throughout the world. You will need to give the following to do so:

  • Valid photo ID
  • Sponsorship reference number
  • Evidence of personal savings, for example, bank statements
  • Tuberculosis test results if you are entering from certain countries

To obtain your biometric residence permit, you must also submit your biometric data at a visa application center or scan your ID documents online or using the UK Immigration: ID Check app (BRP).

UK work permit: Requirements, Free Tips, How To Apply and Cost (2022)

Applications can normally be submitted up to three months before your anticipated travel date, and decisions can take up to eight weeks.

Visa costs:

Most short-term UK work visas cost £259 plus the healthcare premium as of 2022. The Graduate Visa is priced at £715. In addition, providing biometric information for the BRP normally costs roughly £20. Please keep in mind that these rates are subject to change.

Visa length:

Most short-term visas are only good for two years. They are usually issued for one year and can be renewed, while certain visas have a two-year validity period but are not renewable. If you hold a Ph.D., you can get a graduate visa for up to three years.

The seasonal worker visa, which is normally valid for up to six months, is the main exception.

Long-term UK work visas

These are visas that are typically valid for between two and five years and are renewable. Because they entitle the holder to a longer residency in the UK, often with the chance of eventually applying for permanent residence or UK citizenship, they have higher requirement thresholds. Current long-term UK work visas are:

Requirements:

To be eligible for most long-term work visas in the UK, particularly for skilled worker roles, you must obtain 70 points under the points-based system. This comprises of 50 points that each applicant must meet, which are as follows:

  • Offer of work from licensed sponsor (20 points)
  • Job at appropriate skill level (20 points)
  • Minimum level English skills, usually at least B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) scale (10 points)

You can then make up the remaining 20 points from the following:

  • Salary of £25,600 or the going rate for the profession, whichever is higher (20 points)
  • Job in an official shortage occupation (20)
  • PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job (20)
  • Salary of between £23,040 and £25,599 or at least 90% of the going rate for the profession, whichever is higher (10)
  • PhD in a non-STEM subject relevant to the job (10)

Furthermore, you must have at least £1,270 in savings to support yourself. Notably, as long as the work is relevant and you stay in your current capacity, you can normally work up to 20 hours per week in another extra job.

You will, however, be unable to access public monies such as unemployment benefits. Your partner and dependent children are welcome to accompany you, but they must obtain their own visas.

Naturally, minimum wage regulations vary by job in the United Kingdom. Employers must, however, still pay at least £10.10 per hour (or £20,480 for jobs in healthcare or education). Unless you are going on a Graduate Trainee program, the minimum pay for Senior or Specialist Worker visas is £42,400.

How To Apply:

You can apply online or at one of the many UK visa application centers across the world. You will need to give the following to do so:

  • Valid photo ID
  • Sponsorship reference number
  • Proof of knowledge of English, unless you are traveling from an English-speaking country
  • Details of your employer
  • Your job title, salary, and occupation code
  • Evidence of savings, for example, bank statements
  • Tuberculosis test results if you are from a country where you have to take the test
  • Criminal record certificate for certain jobs
UK work permit: Requirements, Free Tips, How To Apply and Cost (2022)

To obtain your biometric residence permit, you must also submit your biometric data at a visa application center or scan your ID documents online or using the UK Immigration: ID Check app (BRP).

Applications can normally be submitted up to three months before your anticipated travel date, and decisions can take up to eight weeks.

Visa costs:

The cost of a long-term UK work visa ranges from £464 to £1,418 depending on the kind and length of the visa. To access NHS services in the UK, you will additionally need to pay the healthcare surcharge (typically £624 per year). The Health and Care Worker visa is less expensive, ranging from £232 to £464. Meanwhile, International Sportsperson visas for 12 months or less cost £244.

In addition, you will normally have to pay roughly £20 in BRP costs.

Visa length:

These visas are usually good for five years but can be renewed indefinitely. A Minister of Religion visa allows you to stay in the UK for a maximum of six years. Senior or Specialist Worker visas are only available for five years in any six-year period (or nine years in any ten-year period if your pay exceeds £73,900).

Most long-term UK work visas allow you to change employment or employers as long as you match the eligibility conditions and the employer is an approved sponsor. You will, however, need to update your visa.

Entrepreneur, Business start-up, and Talent visas

There is presently no general visa available for anyone looking to work as a freelancer, self-employed person, or create their own business in the UK. There are, nevertheless, a few visas available for those who meet certain requirements. These are as follows:

  • Innovator visa or Start-up visa – these are for people that have a new business idea that is different from anything else on the market in the UK
  • Global Talent visa – if you have been recognized as a leader in academia, research, arts and culture, or digital technology.

Requirements:

To apply for one of these visas, you must usually have an endorsement from a recognized endorsing body. If you have won a global award in your industry, you can apply for the Global Talent visa without an endorsement.

In addition, candidates for all visas must be at least 18 years old and have a solid command of the English language (usually minimum B2 on CEFR scale).

For the Innovator or Start-up visa, you must also show that you have at least £1,270 in funds. If you are starting a new firm, you will require an additional £50,000 in business investment capital for the Innovator visa.

You will have limited access to public monies while on your visa. Furthermore, persons on an Innovator visa are not permitted to work outside of their own business. While partners and dependent children are welcome, they must obtain their own visas.

How To Apply:

You can apply online (see the individual links above) or through one of the worldwide UK visa application centres. To do this, you will need to provide the following:

  • Valid photo ID
  • Proof of savings, for example, bank statements
  • Proof of investment capital if starting a business on an Investor visa
  • Evidence of minimum English language requirements, unless you are coming from an English-speaking country
  • Tuberculosis test results if you are from a country where you have to take the test

To obtain your biometric residence permit, you must also submit your biometric data at a visa application center or scan your ID documents online or using the UK Immigration: ID Check app (BRP).

Applications can normally be submitted up to three months before your anticipated travel date, and decisions can take up to eight weeks.

Visa costs and length:

The standard costs for these visas are currently:

  • Innovator visa – £1,021
  • Start-up visa – £363
  • Global Talent visa – £608

To access NHS services in the UK, you will additionally need to pay the healthcare surcharge (typically £624 per year).

Start-up visas are granted for two years, Innovator visas for three years, and Global Talent visas for five years. However, all three visa kinds are renewable, and if you complete all of the qualifying requirements, you can eventually apply for settlement or UK citizenship.

UK work permit: Requirements, Free Tips, How To Apply and Cost (2022)

FAQs About UK Work Visas

How do you get a work visa for the UK?

You must apply for a UK work visa online, pay the application fee plus any healthcare premium, and submit your supporting documents. You may also be required to make an appointment to provide your biometric details.

Is it difficult to get a UK work visa?

Some UK work visas are more difficult to obtain than others, and each path has different restrictions. In many circumstances, the applicant will need to have a job offer from a licensed sponsor that meets the minimal skill and income standards.

How much money is required for work visa in UK?

The amount of money needed for a UK work visa varies according to the type of visa and the applicant’s circumstances. In addition, applicants may be required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge and meet financial maintenance requirements.

Can I apply for a UK work visa if I don’t have a job offer?

There are a variety of UK work visas that do not require a job offer from a UK licensed sponsor, such as the High Potential Individual visa, the Graduate route, and the Global Talent visa, though additional route-specific conditions must still be completed.

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