Apply for a UK Work Visa – UK Immigration

Are you looking to work in the UK? Getting a visa to work in the UK can be a complicated process, but our immigration lawyers are experts in processing visas across all employment categories. We can help you.

Some employment routes are governed by the Points-Based System (PBS). The rules can be complex and it is, therefore, vital that you consult a specialist immigration solicitor for legal advice and information before applying to work in the UK.

The Skilled Worker visa route is a rebrand of the Tier 2 General visa, and offers the ability to be supported by an employer or other sponsoring organisation. There is also a Senior or Specialist Worker visa available if you are moving internationally between your employer’s offices.

The UK also offers an Expansion Worker visa for business owners or key personnel in overseas companies looking to establish a presence in the UK. Our lawyers can guide you through this complex sponsor licensing process.

For help applying for a work visa, contact Latitude Law today. Call our Manchester team on 0044 161 234 6800 or our London team on 0044 207 046 7185. Alternatively, fill out an online contact form and we will return your call as soon as possible.

EU Settlement Scheme

You do not need to apply for a work visa if you moved to the UK before 1st January 2021 if you came from the EU or the following countries:

  • Switzerland
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein

You may instead apply for the free EU Settlement scheme. To see if you apply, call our specialist immigration lawyers now on 0044 161 234 6800 for our Manchester office, or 0044 203 752 6620 for our London office. We can help you to apply for a work visa in the UK.

What visa do I need to work in the UK?

There are numerous visa routes under the Immigration Rules that allow applicants to enter the UK for the purpose of work.

In most cases, you must be sponsored by a company or organisation based in the UK and possess a Certificate of Sponsorship from them.

Furthermore, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be at least aged 18
  • Your job must be of an appropriate skill level
  • You must be filling a genuine vacancy
  • Your salary must be equal to or exceed a baseline minimum and the ‘going rate’ for your industry and position
  • You are proficient with the English language and can show it (minimum CEFR Level B1 in speaking, listening, reading and writing – B2 for Ministers of Religion)
  • You can sustain yourself and your family without needing public or government funding, or your employer has certified your maintenance
  • You have no disqualifying criminal convictions, and can provide a criminal records check for some jobs
  • You have a valid TB certification, if a resident in certain countries

If you are already based in the UK, you may be able to switch into another visa route, or change your employer in the same sponsored worker category. If you are unsure about any of these requirements, contact our expert immigration solicitors now.

Skilled Worker Visa

A Skilled Worker visa is available for skilled workers who have been offered a position by a UK company that is a registered sponsor.

There are various requirements that must be met for this visa, relating to the skill level of the job you will undertake, the salary you will be paid, your English ability and your ability to maintain yourself during your stay. There are many eligible occupations that a skilled worker visa applicant can have, but in some cases, a Temporary Worker visa may be more suitable.

If you are granted a Skilled Worker visa, you are eligible to remain in the UK for up to five years. You may be eligible to settle in the UK after completing five years of residence.

The requirements for this visa can be complex and you should seek advice from an immigration specialist before you proceed with an application.

Latitude Law’s business immigration lawyers can advise you of the requirements specifically relating to you, and ensure that the conditions of your employment offer are suitable to meet the Immigration Rules.

If you would like to extend your UK Skilled Work visa, you can apply to do this if you are in the same job as you were when you first successfully applied, you are in the same occupation code, or you are still working for the same employer that sponsored your application. If you switch job roles or employers, you may still be able to extend your visa so long as your new position meets the skill level and salary requirements.

If you are moving jobs, your new employer must hold a sponsor licence.

Intra-Company Transfer Visa (discontinued)

The intra-company transfer route (ICT) has been rebranded. It now comprises two routes:


How do I get a work visa in the UK?

It can be complicated to understand how to get a work visa in the UK. The process can be complex.

The first step in your considerations should be to speak to an expert visa application solicitor – such as those at Latitude Law. We can guide you through the entire process, informing you on what type of visa you should apply for based on your goals, whether you are eligible for it and what information you will need to provide.

We will work closely with you throughout the application process. With immigration experts at your back, you can be confident that you have the best chance of making a successful application.

What should I do if my UK work visa application is rejected?

The process of applying for a visa can be tricky, and there are many important factors to consider. If your application has been refused, it may be due to not holding appropriate certificates, making a mistake in the submitted documentation, criminal history issues, failure to provide evidence of the above, or fees that were paid (or were not paid) in the process.

At this point, there are two options:

  • Seek an administrative review of the decision
  • Start the application process again, including paying any necessary fees

If your application is refused, contact our specialist solicitors now and we will sit down with you to analyse what went wrong. We understand that it can be stressful having an application refused, especially if you have travel plans already in place. We will work efficiently to give you the best chance of a successful application.

Do I need a visa to work in the UK?

If you are not a permanent resident of the UK, or do not hold appropriate permission under your current leave to remain, you must have a sponsored work visa – similar to a work permit – to be able to legally work in the UK. This means you must hold a visa. In addition to this, you can only do the job for which you have been sponsored unless your supplementary or secondary employment meets certain requirements. Specialist legal advice about this is essential to avoid problems with your main sponsored position.

If you are planning to move to the UK, make sure you conduct the proper research about what types of visas you are eligible for. You can use this government resource to check whether you require a UK visa to do what you want to do in the UK.

How we can help

Latitude Law has advised thousands of foreign nationals seeking to work in the UK and our immigration lawyers have acquired a particularly in-depth knowledge of Skilled Worker visas.

We also advise a wide range of companies about their sponsor licences and sponsored workers. Our lawyers help to identify which visa route best suits your circumstances and prepare your application to ensure the best chance of success.

We can advise employers and prospective workers on the challenges involved in this complex area of immigration law.

Our specialist solicitors engage with changes to Brexit and various other issues relating to modern legislation on a day-to-day basis, meaning we are always immersed in the complexities of international law and have an empathetic approach to all our clients and cases.

We understand the difficulties faced by UK skilled worker visa applicants, and how stressful it can be to follow this route. That is why Latitude Law approaches every case with empathy and expertise: to make sure you know what is happening with your application, what the potential outcomes are, and the options you will have available in each case.

Why choose us?

Our aim is to give you the best chance of successfully securing your work visa so you can be employed in the UK. We have helped many other migrant workers successfully and pride ourselves on the efficiency of our processes. We aim to be responsive and proactive in the pursuit of your case.

We are known for going the extra mile to ensure clients are successful in their endeavours while maintaining professionalism and ethical standards at all times. Our team is friendly and approachable and is always willing to answer any questions you might have.

We can meet you in our Manchester, London or Brussels offices or take your instructions via telephone or video conference. To arrange a consultation, call us on 0044 161 234 6800 (Manchester), 0044 207 046 7185 (London), or 0032 2792 3371 (Brussels). Alternatively, you can arrange a call back using our online enquiry form.

FAQs about UK Work Visas

When can I apply to work in the UK?

To work in the UK, you will need to be sponsored by a UK organisation that holds a valid sponsor licence. If you are offered a role, they will issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), which will allow you to make an application to work in the UK.

What documents do I need to apply to work in the UK?

To apply for a work visa, you must be able to provide:

  • A valid passport or equivalent travel document;
  • Your Certificate of Sponsorship reference number;
  • Evidence of how you meet the English language requirement
  • Evidence of how you meet the maintenance requirement

Additional documents may be required depending on the country you will be applying form (or the visa you will be switching from if applying from within the UK), the role you are intending to take and if your family members are also applying with you as your dependants. You may need to upload copies of these documents as part of your online application, or take them with you to a visa application centre.

Am I eligible for a Sportsperson visa?

The organisation that you will be working for in the UK must hold a valid sponsor licence, and must issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship.

You can apply for a Sportsperson visa if all the following apply:

  • You are an elite sportsperson or qualified coach, who is recognised by your sport’s governing body as being at the highest level of your profession internationally
  • Your sport’s governing body is empowered to endorse your application
  • Your employment will develop your sport in the UK at the highest level
  • You meet other eligibility requirements

Speak to a member of the team at Latitude Law if you are unsure about your eligibility for this visa route.

Am I eligible for a Minister of Religion visa?

The organisation that you will be working for in the UK must hold a valid sponsor licence for this visa route, and must issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship. You can apply for a Minister of Religion visa if:

  • You’ve been offered a job within a faith community (for example as a minister of religion, missionary, or member of a religious order) in the UK
  • You meet the other eligibility requirements, notably ability in English at the higher B2 CEFR level

There are specific restrictions that apply to workers who come to the UK under a Minister of Religion visa, and it is important to understand how these apply before deciding whether or not this is the most suitable visa route for you.

Am I eligible for a Temporary Worker visa?

There are several types of temporary visa, each of which is intended for a different type of employment. Different eligibility criteria apply to each type, as we have outlined below:

  • Charity Worker visa (Temporary Work) is for workers who have an unpaid/voluntary job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK charity with a valid sponsorship licence. The job taken must be directly related to the sponsor charity’s work.
  • Creative Worker visa or the International Sportsperson visa (Temporary Work) are for highly skilled workers who have a job offer as a creative worker or sportsperson – such as a musician or actor – in the UK, and a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK employer with a valid sponsorship licence. Sportspeople on the International Sportsperson visa must be internationally established at the highest level in their sport, and/or their job must make a significant contribution to the development and running of sport at the highest level.
  • Government Authorised Exchange visa (Temporary Work) is for workers coming to the UK through an approved government authorised exchange scheme. This visa allows the worker to do work experience, training, academic research or a fellowship, and to take part in an Overseas Government Language Programme.
  • International Agreement visa (Temporary Work) is for workers who have a job offer that is covered by international law, such as embassy and diplomatic household workers, and a Certificate of Sponsorship from an organisation with a valid sponsor licence. This includes workers under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and similar agreements.
  • Religious Worker visa (Temporary Work) is for workers offered a job, such as preaching or work in a monastery or convent, by a religious order in the UK.
  • Seasonal Worker visa (Temporary Work) is for workers in edible horticulture doing seasonal work in the UK with a sponsor.

In some cases, it can be complicated to determine which type of visa is the best to meet your needs. Latitude Law can advise you on the most appropriate visa for your employment and support you through the application process.

Can I extend my Skilled Worker visa?

Yes. There was previously a maximum time limit that you could spend in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa; however, this has now been removed.

Can I extend my Temporary Worker visa?

You can stay in the UK for a maximum of 12 or 24 months depending on which sub-category of Temporary Worker you apply under.

What happens after I am granted permission to work in the UK?

If you applied from outside the UK, your passport will be endorsed with a 90-day travel vignette and you will be provided with a letter confirming permission has been granted. The 90-day travel visas should be valid from the intended travel date, as stated on your visa application form. You must travel to the UK within the 30-day validity of the travel visa or it will expire, and you will need to apply for a replacement visa.

If your visa is for a period of six months or less, your ‘full visa’ will be issued as a stamp in your passport and you will not need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) upon arrival to the UK.

Otherwise, your ‘full visa’ will be issued in the form of a BRP and will be available for collection once you arrive in the UK. Once in the UK, you must collect your BRP within 10 days of arrival, from the Post Office branch detailed in the decision letter.

If your application is approved from inside the UK, the Home Office will issue your BRP card for the duration of your Certificate of Sponsorship and send this to you directly when your application is approved.

Is a suitable job role on the UK Shortage Occupation List?

Suitable job roles for sponsorship can be found in Appendix Skilled Occupations. Your employment role must fit appropriately under this code and you will also need to be paid an appropriate salary for the role as confirmed in the Immigration Rules.

Some job roles can be found in Appendix Shortage Occupations. These are occupations that UK employers are struggling to fill. When you are applying to fill a shortage occupation role, there is a reduction of the salary you must be paid and also the application fees you will need to pay.

Jobs on the UK Shortage Occupation List are generally very specific, so we will need to assess your circumstances and the job that you will be doing to determine whether you fit into one of these roles.

Can I switch employers on a Skilled Worker visa?

Yes, you can switch employers on a Skilled Worker visa. You will be required to get a new CoS and submit a new Skilled Worker application before you can make the switch.

When am I eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

You may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) based on your Skilled Worker permission once you have resided in the UK continuously for five years. As a general requirement, you can only apply if you meet the continuous residency requirement for the five years your sponsor still needs you for the job, you are paid the relevant salary listed in the Code of Practice and you meet the minimum salary for the ILR. Absences are generally limited to 180 days in any rolling 12-month period.

How can an employer sponsor a worker from overseas?

There are several sponsorship eligibility requirements that businesses must meet before employees can make a UK Skilled Worker visa application. They must make an eligible job and hold a sponsor licence, which can only be obtained by businesses that fulfil specific criteria. If your business aims to bring in workers from overseas, your first step should be to understand what type of licence you need – this will depend on whether you intend to hire through the Skilled Worker route or another suitable visa, such as a Seasonal Worker visa.

You must assign members of your organisation to take on legally mandated roles in the sponsorship process. You will usually need someone to act as a key contact with UK Visas and Immigration, an authorising officer to oversee the process, and a user who will handle the day-to-day requirements.

It is vital to collect supporting evidence, including any documentation you are asked to provide during your application. This can be complicated and it is always best to work with a solicitor during this process. There can be significant problems for your business and your workers if your sponsor licence application is rejected, as well as costs to reapply.

Find out more in our guide to sponsor licensing and learn how Latitude Law can help.

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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 11/02/2019