How to Get a UK Work Visa

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If you’re planning to work in the UK, congratulations, it’s a smart move. Britain provides various career opportunities for foreigners and is known to be one of the most economically developed countries in the world, plus its diverse population and multi-cultural environment defines its friendly and welcoming attitude towards immigrants.

However, applying for a work visa in UK is not an easy thing, not only because it’s hard to win the competition and find a decent job, but because of the UK’s complex points-based visa system.

Let’s take a closer look at UK visa requirements and find out what options are available for foreigners to apply for a work permit in UK.

UK work Visa categories

British work visas are issued by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) division and entitle their holders to reside and work in the United Kingdom for a specified period of time. The UK rating-based visa system was established by the government in 2003 and consists of 5 Tiers which aimed to categorize applicants wishing to apply for UK visa depending on their individual skills and intentions. The five-level model includes:

  • Tier 1 - Program for high value workers (entrepreneurs, investors and exceptional talents)
  • Tier 2 - Skilled workers with a job offer
  • Tier 3 - Temporary workers (mainly immigrants with low qualifications). Unfortunately, no visas were issued under this category recently.
  • Tier 4 - British University students
  • Tier 5 - Youth Mobility Schemes and Temporary workers performing religious activities, charity work or hired as sports people or creative workers.

How to get work permit in UK if you are a non-EU citizen

Citizens of countries that are not members of the European Economic Area (EEA) fell under Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 5 British visa categories. Each Tier consists of several subcategories which define the list of documents you need to provide in order to obtain for a UK visa. General UK visa document requirements include providing a passport or other valid ID document, the rest depends on the particular visa type.

Tier 1 (visa to UK for entrepreneurs)

What is required: to be able to invest from 50 to 200 thousand pounds, demonstrate English proficiency, provide a business plan.

Duration: 3 years and 4 months and can be extended for another 2 years. A residentship can be obtained after 5 years in the UK.

Tier 1 (visa for exceptional talents or emerging leaders)

What is required: to be a recognized as a leader in science, medicine, digital technology, engineering or art (you need to be approved by the Home Office and provide a copy of the endorsement letter).

Duration: 5 years and 4 months. The visa can be extended for another 5 years.

Tier 5 (visa for temporary workers)

A temporary worker visa allows you to stay in the country for 12 months (24 months - in case of religious work or international agreement).

Tier 5 visa is also available for athletes, people of creative professions (actors, dancers, musicians, etc.) and charity workers. Documents required for UK visa of this category include sponsorship certificate.

Tier 2 General (visa for skilled workers)

In order to obtain a Tier 2 General visa, you must provide a sponsorship certificate from an employer (sponsor), have certain funds on your bank account and possess English language skills.

First of all, find a company with a sponsor license, which is ready to hire you. Pay attention to the big international companies, which are already licensed to hire foreign professionals or have no difficulties to receive it in case of necessity.

If you’ve managed to get the certificate, you are ready to apply for a visa. The decision to issue a visa is usually taken within three weeks. To apply for a visa you need to fill in the UK visa application.

The maximum duration of Tier 2 General visa is 5 years and 14 days. It can be extended but the total stay in the UK should not exceed 6 years.

Where to search for a job in the UK

First of all, it’s important to note that it’s not easy to get hired in the United Kingdom. The general policy is aimed to limit the number of foreigners, however highly skilled professionals are always in-demand. So what should you do to appear on the radar of your potential employer?

Visit job search websites. Middle East professionals can find various UK career opportunities at our website, other useful resources include:

  • monster.co.uk
  • jobsite.co.uk
  • www.reed.co.uk

Go through online job boards. The most popular are:

  • london.craigslist.co.uk
  • gumtree.com

Social networks. Don’t underestimate the power of Facebook and Linked. Recruiters tend to use social networks as one of the main hiring channels.

Apply for a job via recruitment agencies. The vast majority of companies in England prefer to rely on the third party when it comes to hiring foreign professionals. Applicants also benefit from such scheme as the agencies are responsible for paperwork and transfer issues.

Companies’ websites. Big international companies tend to create their own career portals within the corporate website. It provides more detailed information on recent job openings and allows you to address your letter directly to the HR Department and increases your chances to get noticed.

Don’t expect to get hired soon. Check the recent updates, respond to all the relevant job openings – the more the better - and don’t be afraid of rejections. Constantly work on your English skills, especially if your job implies working closely with customers. And remember: job search is a job too, so show your best.

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