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Work Visa in the UK.

Learn about work visas in the UK thanks to Horizons’ up-to-date guide.

Horizons is where real, local hiring expertise meets world-class customer service. Quickly and compliantly hire employees in more than 150 countries worldwide, without the need to open a local entity.

Types of work visa in the UK

There are two types of work visas in the United kingdom: long-term and short-term. The most common type of work visa required in the UK is a long-term employment visa. 

Long-term work visas for the UK

The most common long-term work visas include:

  • Skilled Worker visa
  • Health and Care Worker visa
  • Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Scale-up Worker visa

Short-term work visas for the UK

Short-term work visas include:

  • Charity Worker visa (Temporary Work)
  • Creative Worker visa (Temporary Work)
  • Government Authorised Exchange visa (Temporary Work)
  • International Agreement visa (Temporary Work)
  • Seasonal Worker visa (Temporary Work)
  • Youth Mobility Scheme visa
  • Graduate visa
  • High Potential Individual (HPI) visa
  • Graduate Trainee visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • UK Expansion Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Secondment Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Service Supplier visa (Global Business Mobility).

Required documents for a work visa in the UK

To apply for a work visa in the United Kingdom, candidates will need to provide:

  • their job’s occupation code
  • their job title and annual salary
  • their certificate of sponsorship reference number — the employer should provide this
  • a valid passport or other document that shows their identity and nationality
  • evidence of their level of knowledge of English
  • the name of their employer and their sponsor licence number — this will be on the certificate of sponsorship.

Depending on their circumstances, they might also be asked to provide additional information, including:

  • evidence that they have enough personal savings to support themselves in the UK, for example bank statements. This is not necessary if the certificate of sponsorship shows that the employer can support them
  • their tuberculosis test results if they are from a listed country
  • If they have lived in more than one country, they might need to provide a certificate from each country they’ve lived in, depending on their age and how long they stayed in each country
  • a criminal record certificate — for specific occupations such as social work, education, or healthcare.

They will also need to provide a certified translation if their documents are in a language other than English or Welsh.

Process to get a work visa in the UK

There are a number of steps that must be followed in order to apply for a work visa in the United Kingdom:

  • First, potential applicants must ensure that they meet the basic eligibility requirements.
  • Second, applicants must have a job offer from a licensed employer in the UK. Once these requirements are met, potential applicants can begin the online application process.
  • Third, applicants should create an account and complete the online form. Next, supporting documents must be uploaded.
  • Finally, the applicant may need to attend an interview at the nearest UK visa office.
 

Getting a work visa when the employee is based outside of the UK

The employer must first submit an application to the UK Visas and Immigration department, providing evidence of the candidate’s skills and qualifications. They will also need to prove that the role cannot be filled by a suitably qualified UK citizen. If the application is successful, the candidate will be granted a work visa, which will allow them to live and work in the UK for up to five years. The whole process can take several months, so it is important for employers to start the process as early as possible.

Getting a work visa when the employee is based inside the UK

The work visa process when the employee is based inside of the United Kingdom is a fluid one that can be completed in as little as eight weeks. The first step is for the employer to obtain a certificate of sponsorship from the UK government. Once this has been secured, the employee can then apply for the visa. The application will require evidence of the sponsorship, as well as proof that the applicant meets the necessary requirements, such as holding a valid passport and having enough funds to support themselves during their stay in the UK. Once approved, the visa will be valid for up to five years. After this time, the employee will need to reapply if they wish to continue working in the UK.

Special notes about work visas in the UK

Not everyone needs a work permit or visa to work in the UK. Commonwealth citizens who meet other eligibility criteria and have a British grandparent can apply for an ancestry visa, which allows them to work in the country. These citizens may also have a right of abode to live in the UK. Employees who left the UK for more than two years through indefinite leave to remain (ILR) may only need a returning resident visa to come back and work.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ):

The answer to this question depends on the type of visa that the UK work visa holder has. For instance, Tier 2 visa holders are allowed to bring their spouses and dependent children with them to the UK. However, Tier 4 visa holders are not permitted to bring any family members with them. In addition, all visa holders are required to demonstrate that they have enough money to support themselves and any dependents who come with them. For more information on family members and UK visas, it is best to consult with a qualified immigration lawyer.

 

It takes 3-4 weeks after application submission to get a work visa in the United Kingdom. However, this time frame may be different depending on the type of visa that is being applied for. For instance, Tier 4 student visas can take up to 8 weeks to process.

The duration of stay for a UK work visa holder depends on the type of visa that they have. For instance, Tier 2 visa holders can stay in the UK for up to 5 years, while Tier 3 visa holders can stay for up to 2 years.

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