The UK is one of the world’s most popular destinations for people looking to work, but the immigration system can be complicated. If you’re travelling from abroad, you may need a work permit to legally work in the UK and the consequences can be severe if you’re found to be working illegally.
The system can be difficult to navigate but it’s essential to make sure that everything is above board before you begin working. There are several different permits available, including permits for short or long term work and specialist skilled worker visas. The recent events of Brexit have made the working rules even more complicated, so it’s always best to seek the advice of a professional solicitor if you’re thinking about working in the UK. If you've recently moved to the UK or are planning on doing so in the future, see below for our handy guide to UK work permits and how a solicitor can help.
Do I need a UK work permit?
You are currently eligible to work in the UK if you’re a British citizen or a European Economic Area (EEA) citizen who worked in the UK before 31st December 2020. You’re also eligible if you’re a Swiss national who worked in the UK before 31st December 2020.
If any of the above apply to you, then no, you will not need a work permit. However, if you’re a Swiss national or EEA citizen, you’ll need to apply for settled status in the UK before 30th June 2021 to avoid any potential disruption to your employment.
Individuals cannot apply for a work permit directly, your UK employer will need to do this on your behalf. Work permits are predominantly given to highly skilled workers who can contribute to the UK’s economy. You may also be able to obtain a work permit through sponsorship or ‘exceptional talent’. We will discuss some of the different work permits available in more detail below.
Types of employment permit
The UK has a points-based immigration system that’s designed to attract skilled workers. The number of points you score helps to determine your eligibility for a work visa and points are awarded based on the following:
- English language skills
- Future expected earnings
- Self-provided funds.
You may be able to apply for one of the following visas depending on your points score and area of expertise:
Skilled worker visa
This type of work permit replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. In order to be eligible, you must work for a Home Office approved employer, be issued a Certificate of Sponsorship from your UK employer and do a job that’s on the list of eligible employers. The list of eligible skilled worker jobs is very large and it includes everything from restaurant owners to engineers, data programmers, healthcare workers, teachers, lawyers and more. You can find a full list of eligible occupations on the government website here.
A skilled worker visa lasts for up to five years before you’ll need to extend or update it. You can extend the visa as many times as you like as long as you’re eligible.
Health and care worker visa
This visa allows qualified healthcare professionals (like doctors and nurses) to work in the UK and help support the NHS. You’ll still need a Certificate of Employment from your employer before the application can go ahead. These visas also last up to five years and can be extended an unlimited amount of times as long as you’re eligible.
Global talent scheme
You can apply for a global talent visa if you’re a leader or potential leader in the following fields; academia or research, arts and culture, or digital technology. This type of permit is aimed at workers who are outstanding in their field and it allows you to come to the UK without a job offer.
This type of permit allows you to come to or stay in the UK to work at your employer’s UK branch. Your employer can apply for a permit to transfer you to a role in the UK, but you’ll need to have worked for the overseas employer for at least 12 months (unless they’re paying you £73,900 or more to work in the UK).
You may also be eligible for an intra-company visa as part of a graduate training programme. You’ll still need to have worked for your overseas employer for at least three months before applying.
How to apply
There are certain requirements which must be met before you can even apply for a UK work permit. You will need:
- A confirmed offer of employment from a licensed UK employer (who will act as your sponsor).
- A Certificate of Sponsorship issued by your employer.
- To pass the points-based assessment.
You can apply for UK work permits online through the government website. Employers will also need a licence if they want to employ someone to work for them from outside the UK. This licence then allows employers to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to employees, which are essential if you want to apply for a work visa.
How can a solicitor help?
We’ve only covered some of the basics of the UK work permit system, but as you can see, it’s rather complicated. There are many variations based on your qualifications, area of expertise and the type of permit you’ll be applying for. The system can also be difficult for employers to navigate but it’s important that everything is done correctly and above board.
An immigration solicitor can provide professional help and advice at every stage, from the initial application to an extending visa. Solicitors can help individuals looking to apply for a work visa from inside the UK, or employers who are thinking about bringing in talent from overseas. A solicitor will assess your situation and help you put together an application based on your individual circumstances. They can also offer expert advice on any documentation you may need to ensure your application has the highest chance of success.
What if my application is refused?
If a work visa application has been refused, a solicitor will be able to challenge the refusal on your behalf. Immigration solicitors have expert knowledge in this specific area and will be able to arrange an administrative review (AR) on your behalf. An AR is a review or reconsideration of an application and any type of visa can be challenged (e.g skilled worker, global talent scheme).
If the refusal is upheld after an AR, a solicitor can challenge the decision by judicial review. This option is used if you haven’t been given the right to appeal, but again, a solicitor has all the knowledge and expertise to make a case on your behalf.
Immigration legal services from the experts at ITN Solicitors
If you’re in need of professional help and advice for a work permit application, get in touch with the team at ITN Solicitors. Our immigration solicitors offer a range of business immigration services and we can help with a range of areas, including skilled worker visas, sponsor licences and European Union worker’s rights.
If you’re an individual looking for client representation, we also offer a full range of personal immigration services. We’re on hand to provide advice and representation on all aspects of immigration, asylum and nationality law. Our team can help with visa applications, asylum cases, work permit applications and appeals. We understand that each case is different, which is why we’ll work with you to explain your options and ensure you get the best possible outcome. For more information about any of our immigration services, don’t hesitate to give us a call today or contact us via the website to make an appointment.