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UK work visa made simple


Ever since Brexit, that is, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union(EU), there has been a significant change in the migration system and policies of the UK. In recent times, getting a job in the country now depends greatly on the type of job one is searching for.

As an expat, there is a need to be authorised to work in the different parts of the United Kingdom as the UK has a point-based immigration system designed to favour skilled immigrants.

You will usually need a job offer and a UK work visa as an immigrant to be employed into the country’s work system.


The United Kingdom is known for its productive job market, has the best universities and its capital, London, is among the leading commercial, industrial and financial centres.

Though the cost of living in the UK is relatively high, it scores well overall on the OECD better life index. The average salary in the UK according to jobted is  £29,600 per year (or £1,950 per month). There is also a  minimum wage, and you can apply for social security should you become unemployed.

The UK  has now introduced the points-based immigration that is designed to admit limited numbers of skilled workers. Under this system, you can apply for a visa if you score a minimum number of points which are based on a lot of criteria ranging from the salary, your proficiency level in the use of English language, skill level of the job, educational qualifications, an offer of work from an approved sponsor, job type and so on.

The UK home office is the arm of government responsible for the issuing of all UK visas and immigration rules.


Immigrants from different countries need a work visa before coming to the UK to work. However, heads of state, military personnel, diplomats, Prime ministers, and top citizens of a state are exempted from the UK visa policy.

Also, citizens of the British Overseas Territories and the Commonwealth countries who qualify for the UK right of abode (ROA) don’t need a visa to enter and work in the UK.

There’s also a policy from the UK government stating that if you come to the UK on another visa such as a study visa, or a family visa, you might be eligible to work in the UK.


There are a lot of procedures that one needs to complete and conditions to meet to be able to work in the UK. One of the conditions is that you process the right kind of work visa as there are several types of work visas depending on skills and purposes.

The UK employment visas are categorised into four main groups. They are; Short-term work visas, Long term work visas and Entrepreneur/investor, and business start-up/talent visas. 

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Short-term Work Visa

The UK short-term work visa is a part of the Tier 5 Visa, which is part of the UK Points-Based System. It is also known as the temporary Work Visa which generally lasts around six months to a year.

Examples of Short-term work visas include;
  1. Charity Worker Visa: For those going for an unpaid charity program. A certificate of sponsorship from a licensed charity organisation or employer is required.
  2. Government Authorised Exchange visa: For those going to the UK for specific training, government language courses, research or a fellowship through an approved government authorised body.
  3. Religious Worker visa: For those going for a religious course such as preaching, establishing  churches etc
  4.  Seasonal Worker visa: You’re eligible to apply for the seasonal work visa if you want to travel to the UK for farm activities such as fruit picking, planting or driving heavy goods vehicles.
  5. Creative Worker visa: For those in the show business and creative industries such as actors, actresses, dancers, musicians and even crew members.
  6. Graduate visa: for graduates intending to stay back in the UK to work after completing a UK study course.
Requirements for getting a Short-term working visa

As a short-term work visa holder, you’re not entitled to public funding such as unemployment benefits. However, you can access free health care through the NHS though you’ll usually need to pay a health care surcharge.

 Also, you’ll need to have been offered a position from a licensed sponsoring organisation. In most cases, you’ll also need to have a certain amount of money in your bank account to support yourself during your stay. Lastly, for most Short-term work visas, you need to be at least 18 years of age to be considered. 

Long-term Work Visa

The UK long-term work visa is usually valid for a period of two to five years after it has been issued and is very much renewable. With a UK long-term work visa, you have a chance of applying for a permanent residence or UK citizenship because of its higher requirement thresholds.

Examples of long-term UK work visas are;
  1. Skilled Worker Visa: This Visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer 
  2. Health and Care Worker Visa: This allows medical professionals to come to the UK via the NHS or other health routes. 
  3. Senior/Specialist Worker Visa: For employees of a UK based company or Organisation 
  4. International Sportsperson Visa: Senior sportsmen, elite coaches, captains who are recognized as being at the highest level of their profession. 
  5. Representative of an Overseas Business Visa: For sole representatives of businesses looking to set up a branch or subsidiary in the UK.


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Requirements for getting a Long-term Work Visa

For you to successfully apply for a long-term work visa, you must work for a UK employer that has been approved by the UK Home Office. Also, have a certificate of sponsorship from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK. Also, a minimum level of English language skills is required.

Entrepreneur, Business start-up and Talent Visa

This is a work visa issued to most investors, business developers and Talented persons. It is worthy to note that the UK government doesn’t issue work visas to freelancers, and self-employed immigrants; rather this type of visa is given to those that have a new business idea that is different from anything else in the UK labour market.

You’ll need to be endorsed by a recognised business body to be fit for this visa type and you also need to be at least 18 years of age and have a good command of English speaking to be eligible.


Should your visa application be refused, you can ask for an administrative review or an appeal of the decision from the UK government. If you’re told that you’re not eligible for a full review, there are chances that you might be allowed to make a reconsideration request to the UK immigration authorities. 

Appealing to a visa decision can be costly and also a lengthy one, it is wise to seek advice before processing your application. Citizens Advice arm of the immigration system can support you and help signpost you to free or low-cost legal services.

Good luck with your application! We’re rooting for you.

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