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Moving your career abroad can be a great opportunity. With so many businesses across the UK, it’s a popular destination for work, training, and study. However, you will need a work permit.

If you want to work in the UK, but you have no idea where to start, this blog will explain what work visa you will need and how to apply for it.


Obtaining a work permit in the United Kingdom can be quite complicated. There are multiple permit types, often referred to as tiers.

You can visit the UK for up to 6 months without a visa, and during that time you may travel, visit family and friends, or even complete short-term studies.

However, to work in the UK, you will require a work permit. These visas vary depending on the type of work you are interested in, and the length of visa required. For the self-employed, visas are available for innovator or start-up business visas.

In this blog, we will examine the types of visas and how you can apply for one.

What will determine your type of visa?

  • Skills and Qualifications
  • Job offers and sponsorship status
  • Industry of work (whether there is a shortage)
  • Expected earnings
  • English Language Skills

Long-term work visas

If you are looking for a long-term work visa, rather than short-term options. Here are some of the long-term visas you may be eligible to apply for:

1.    Skilled Worker Visa

The skilled worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. To apply for this visa, you must work for a Home Office-approved employer, have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer, and do a job that’s on the list of eligible employers.

For more information on the skilled worker visa please visit: https://www.gov.uk/skilled-worker-visa

You must be able to speak, read, write, and understand English. You may also need to prove your knowledge of English when you apply.

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2.    Health and Care Worker Visa

The Health and Care Worker Visa allows qualified health care professionals, such as doctors and nurses to come to the UK and work for the NHS. To apply for this work permit, you may also require a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer.

For more information about whether you are eligible for a health and care worker visa please visit: https://www.gov.uk/health-care-worker-visa

Doctors and nurses can apply for a health care worker visa.

3.    Intracompany Visa

An Intracompany visa allows you to stay in the UK for an eligible job at your current company’s UK branch. You can apply for this visa if you are looking to transfer to a role in the UK.

If you have worked for your employer overseas for more than 12 months or if they will pay you above £73,900 a year to work in the UK, you may be eligible for an intracompany visa.

You can find more details about the intracompany visa here: https://www.gov.uk/intracompany-transfer-worker-visa

Short-term work visas

You may be eligible for a short-term work permit in the UK. These usually last between 3-24 months. Here are some short-term work visas.

4.    Graduate Visa

If you are looking to stay in the UK after graduating, you will need to apply for a graduate visa. A Graduate visa permits you to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after completing a course in the UK.

Permission to stay under the graduate route allows international students to work after their studies for 2 years (3 years for Ph.D. students). The work can be in any sector and does not list a minimum salary requirement or the need for visa sponsorship.

For more information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/graduate-visa

Graduates can apply for a work permit to stay after graduation.

Self-Employed Visa

If you are looking to launch a new business, and the visa types above do not apply to you, there are some visas tailored to entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals.

5.    Innovator Visa

The innovator visa is a special permit for those wanting to stay in the UK to set up and run an innovative business. To be eligible for this visa you must meet the following criteria: be at least 18 years old, the business must be different from the rest of the market offering, be endorsed by an authorised body.

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This permit requires a minimum of £50,000 to apply and allows you to stay for up to three years before requiring renewal.

6.    Start-up Visa

Another specialist visa is designed for people wanting to start an innovative business. This visa carries the same eligibility criteria as the Innovator visa and allows you to stay for up to 2 years but without the option for renewal. There is then the potential to switch to an Innovator visa after this period.

To be eligible for a start-up visa, your idea must meet the following criteria:

  • New idea – You cannot join an existing business. It needs to be a new business.
  • Innovative – The business idea must be unique and different from anything else on the market.
  • Viable – The business must be viable and have growth potential.

How to apply for a UK work permit

When you’ve chosen a work permit/visa, you’ll usually be able to apply and pay for it online via the gov.UK website. The earliest you’ll usually be able to do so is 3 months before your employment start date. You’ll need to provide proof of identification as well as your supporting documents.

Depending on the country you are applying from you will either be asked to book an appointment at a visa application center or use the UK Immigration mobile application. The waiting time for a decision on work visa applications from outside the UK is usually around 3 weeks.

When applying for a UK work permit, you may need the help of professionals. For example, entrepreneurs applying for a start-up or innovators visa will require a comprehensive business plan. B&F Services can help assist businesses and individuals with UK visa applications and maximize chances of success.

BandF business plans is here to help you!

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