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Work Visa UK

Most non-UK residents and citizens will require a UK work visa or other professional immigration permission in order to legally work in gainful employment on British soil. There are several types of UK work visa permissions, each designed for different circumstances.

If you need support with a UK visa application, advice on how you can stay in the UK or guidance through the various immigration routes, Manchester Immigration Lawyers can help. Call us today on 0161 826 9783 for a no obligation, free chat on your situation.

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    Who Needs A Visa To Work In The UK?

    Anyone who wishes to work in the UK who is not a current British citizen or resident will need to undergo the appropriate UK visa application process. This includes those looking to complete voluntary work and those who are EU (European Union) nationals, unless they already hold pre-settled or settled status under the existing EU Settlement Scheme.

    There are several different types of British work visas, and applicants must ensure they are applying for the correct type in order to receive the necessary immigration permission.

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    What Are The Types of Work Visa UK?

    There are a variety of visas for professional purposes to provide entry to the UK. Most of these require a valid job offer from a UK employer to be in place ahead of application; however, there are several options for those looking for work in the country.

    It is imperative that applicants apply for the UK visa route most appropriate to them. If an incorrect visa type is applied for, the application will be denied and the refusal put onto their immigration record. No fees will be refunded and the process will need to be repeated for the correct visa type.

    UK Skilled Worker Visa

    The UK Skilled Worker route is one of the most popular professional British visa entry classes. It is intended for those with a job offer from a UK employer already in place and aims to attract professional talent into the country that employers would otherwise struggle to recruit.

    Skilled Worker Visa applicants must:

    • Work for a Home Office approved UK employer
    • Have a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) in place from their employer
    • Do a job that’s on the eligible occupations list
    • Be paid a minimum salary for that job (dependent on the role and the date of the issued COS.

    Skilled Worker Visa holders may reside and work in the UK for up to five years before immigration rules dictate that either a new Skilled Worker Visa application should be filed or another UK work visa type application.

    Health and Care Worker Visa

    The Health and Care Worker is a UK work visa for skilled workers to take up employment in the NHS, for an NHS supplier or in adult social care. Those qualified for a Health and Care Worker Visa must:

    • Be a fully qualified doctor, nurse, specialist health professional or adult social care professional
    • Work in a Home Office approved health or social care job
    • Work for a Home Office approved UK employer
    • Have a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) in place from their employer
    • Be paid a minimum salary for that job (dependent on the role).

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      Work Visas Without A Job Offer

      There are several UK work visa options that facilitate an individual looking for work in the UK without already having a job offer, contract of employment or Certificate of Sponsorship in place. These are as follows:

      Graduate Visa

      A Graduate Visa is a visa allowing a student graduating from a UK educational institution to stay in the country for two years. A Graduate Visa is available for those who:

      • Are currently in the UK with a Student Visa or Tier 4 Visa
      • Have studied a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree or other eligible course for a minimum period of time as stipulated on the existing visa
      • Have had their education provider inform the home office of their successful graduation from the course.

      Graduate Visa holders usually use the two-year period granted to apply for gainful employment, with the aim of converting their visa to a professional one.

      Youth Mobility Scheme Visa

      The Youth Mobility Scheme aims to facilitate young people entering the UK to live and begin their careers on British soil. It applies only to those holding certain types of British nationality or those from certain countries and territories who have signed up to the scheme. As well as this, applicants must:

      • Agree to stay in the UK under the scheme for no more than two years
      • Be aged between 18-35 (dependent on where they’re from)
      • Have a minimum of £2,530 in savings to support themselves while in the UK.

      India Young Professionals Scheme Visa

      The India Young Professionals Scheme is near identical to the Youth Mobility Scheme, but specifically designed for Indian citizens. Applicants must have been selected in the India Young Professionals Scheme Ballot before they can apply for the visa, and then must meet the same criteria as the Youth Mobility Scheme as well as holding an eligible educational qualification. Anyone eligible for the visa may enter the ballot.

      Global Talent Visa

      A Global Talent Visa allows skilled workers to work in the UK without meeting the Skilled Worker Visa requirements by already having a job offer from a UK employer in place. A Global Talent Visa can be applied for if the applicant:

      • Is aged 18 or over
      • Is a leader or ‘potential leader’ in the field of either academia or research, arts and culture or digital technology and has a valid endorsement to prove this; OR
      • Has won an eligible award in their field of expertise.

      UK Ancestry Visa

      While not a professional visa as such, the UK Ancestry Visa does permit work in the UK by the holder and so allows individuals to job hunt while in the country. To apply for a UK Ancestry Visa, the applicant must:

      • Be a Commonwealth citizen, British Overseas citizen, British Overseas Territories citizen or a citizen of Zimbabwe
      • Be able to prove that one of their grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

      A UK Ancestry Visa is valid for five years, after which time it can be extended, converted, or the visa holder can apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain.

      High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa

      An HPI Visa is granted to those who graduated from one of the world’s top universities with an eligible qualification in a month and year in which they made the Home Office’s eligible university list. The applicant’s graduation must have happened within the last five years and permits entry to the UK for a period of up to two years. An HPI Visa cannot be extended and is most commonly converted to the Skilled Worker route through the submission of a Skilled Worker Visa application.

      Global Business Mobility Visas

      Global Business Mobility Visas allow for employees of overseas based employers to work in the UK for a set period of time, dependent on the role being conducted. Each has its own eligibility criteria, with categories for:

      • Senior or Specialist Workers
      • Graduate Trainee Workers
      • Secondment Workers
      • Service Suppliers
      • UK Expansion Workers.

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        Temporary Work Visas


        Those requiring entry to the UK to complete a temporary work placement are available, facilitating gainful (and voluntary) employment in the UK for a set period of time dependent on the visa and role type. Categories exist for:

        • Workers on a Government Authorised Exchange
        • Creative Workers
        • Religious Workers
        • Charity Workers
        • Seasonal Workers (most commonly agricultural workers but also some event and seasonal placement workers)
        • International Agreement Workers
        • Overseas Domestic Workers
        • Representatives of Overseas Businesses.

        Other Work Visas and Permits

        There also exist specialist classes of UK work visas for International Sportspeople, Ministers of Religion, Scale-Up Workers and Frontier Workers. These are fairly rare and so it is always advised that specialist advice is sought if you’re intending to apply for one of them.

        Which Work Visa Do I Need?

        With so many options available, it’s imperative that applicants only apply for the most appropriate work visa for them. To identify this for you and your situation, speak to Manchester Immigration Lawyers on 0161 826 9783 and enlist their expert help.

        UK Work Visa Eligibility Requirements

        Every British Work Visa has its own eligibility requirements that applicants must meet, but in most cases the general criteria are as follows:

        • The applicant must be aged 18 or over
        • The applicant must be applying for a visa class that does not require an existing job offer; OR
        • The applicant must have a valid job offer from a valid employer in place and a Certificate of Sponsorship issued from them
        • The applicant must be able to prove that they have sufficient financial means in place to support themselves while in the UK without claiming any state benefits
        • (Where a job offer is in place) The employer must prove that they’ve been unable to hire a UK national for the role in question
        • (Where a job offer is in place) The employer must prove that the applicant is properly qualified for the role
        • (Where a job offer is in place) The employer must prove that they are paying a stipulated minimum wage for the role
        • The applicant must have a clean criminal record
        • The applicant must be able to prove they speak and understand English to a set level.

        For advice on specific work visa classes’ requirements, Manchester Immigration Lawyers can provide bespoke guidance. Contact our office today on 0161 826 9783 to learn more.

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          UK Work Visa Application Process

          Every visa application differs slightly, but the general process can be thought of as follows.

          (If applicable) Receive job offer

          A large majority of UK work visa applications are under the Skilled Worker category, and a requirement for a Skilled Worker Visa applicant is that they hold an eligible job offer and Certificate of Sponsorship from an eligible employer. This will usually be issued while the applicant is still overseas and will form the basis for the Skilled Worker Visa application.

          Collect supporting documents

          All visa applications are to be accompanied by supporting documents to prove the applicant’s eligibility and suitability for the visa. These documents, which usually include a valid passport alongside identification and details of professional qualifications and employment, need to be compiled ahead of time so that copies may be submitted alongside the main application form.

          Submit online application

          UK visa application forms are submitted online along with copies of the required supporting documentation. Usually, the applicant will submit this form themselves but where they are working with an appropriate employer they may also input some information. The visa application fee is paid upon submission but who pays this is down to the employer’s discretion.

          Visit Visa Application Centre

          In most cases, overseas applicants will be required to visit a local Visa Application Centre for a pre-booked appointment. At this appointment they will meet with an immigration officer, supply hard copies of their supporting documents and have biometric information for a residence permit (usually a photograph and fingerprints) taken.

          Supply further information

          If immigration authorities need more information in order to process a visa application, they will pause the application until such time as further details are received. Employees and employers are encouraged to supply any requested information as quickly as possible to avoid unnecessary delay.

          Await visa decision

          A visa decision will be supplied in writing to both the employee and employer. Where a visa refusal is received, any recourse for appeal will be detailed.

          For guidance on specific visa applications (and/or appeals), speak to a specialist solicitor on 0161 826 9783 at Manchester Immigration Lawyers.

          UK Work Visa Cost and Processing Time

          Each visa type has a different visa fee payable for the processing of the application. As of May 2024, these are as follows:

          • Skilled Worker Visa – between £719 – £1,639 dependent on circumstance
          • Health and Care Worker Visa – £284 for up to three years or £551 for up to five years
          • Graduate Visa – £822
          • Youth Mobility Scheme Visa – £298
          • Indian Young Professional Visa – £298
          • Global Talent Visa – £716 (split into partial payments if applying for an endorsement)
          • UK Ancestry Visa – £637
          • High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa – £822.

          In most cases, a £1,035 NHS surcharge is payable per year of stay.

          Processing times are dependent on seasonal fluctuation and demand, but uncomplicated professional visas are usually processed within three weeks. Employers may choose to pay for an expedited service in urgent cases.

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            How can Manchester Immigration Lawyers help

            Whether you’re coming to the UK to work for a British employer, an existing overseas entity, or to job hunt for a career in the country, Manchester Immigration Lawyers can take the stress out of the visa application and appeal process through the provision of expert legal advice.

            Our team work day in day out to help both individuals and businesses gain the right travel and residency permissions worldwide. Call our expert team now on 0161 826 9783 for more advice.

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              With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.

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                  By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.

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                      Related pages for your continued reading.

                      Frequently Asked Questions

                      An eligible employer will be able to advise you if they intend for you to obtain a Skilled Worker Visa in order to work for them in the UK. If you’re unsure of their eligibility, speak to their in-house legal team or call Manchester Immigration Lawyers for advice on 0161 826 9783.

                      A biometric residence permit is a permit that proves an individual’s legal right to reside in the UK. It includes a photograph of the individual as well as fingerprint data for identification purposes.

                      It is a prerequisite for most visa applications that the applicant holds a clean or spent criminal record. While not always a required supporting document at time of application, the Home Office reserves the right to request proof of an applicant’s criminal record at any time during the application process – although this does not necessarily mean the application will be denied.