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Working in the UK

Whether or not you are allowed to work in the UK is dependent on a number of different factors. Ensure you have the knowledge you need with our extensive explanation of requirements for types of work and places of origin.

Detailed on this page are the different categories and requirements you'll need to know about if you are coming from abroad and aiming to work in the UK. Also included is all the relevant legal information required for nationals of countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland wanting to gain employment within the UK.

All EEA and Swiss nationals are able to gain entry and consequently reside within in the UK without requiring application for governmental permission. EEA and Swiss nationals are also able to gain employment within the UK without needing to make application for permission

We also cover areas of registration regarding the process for citizens of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia who wish to gain employment within the United Kingdom through employers for an excess of one month. The citizens are not ordinarily entitled to gain employment within the UK for excess of one month without registration, but through the Worker Registration Scheme this limit can be extended.

Highly skilled migrants and Tier 1 immigration

The Tier 1 (General) category authorises highly skilled workers to enter or remain within the UK to seek employment opportunities.

Applicant requirements for highly skilled workers

Unlike sponsored skilled workers covered by Tier 2 of the UK governmental points-based system, applicants for this section do not need a job offer to apply as a highly skilled worker, similarly to the application of Post-study worker visas. Within this application process, points are awarded on a qualification bases, any previous earnings, coupled with UK experience, age, and English language skills and any maintenance (financial stability).

Applications under this system can be made for those who are:

  • already residing within the UK with authorisation to stay (also known as 'leave to remain') while in an immigration category allowing a switch to Tier 1 (General)
  • already residing within the UK under Tier 1 (General) wanting to extend permission of stay under this category
  • already residing in the UK under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP), wanting to extend their stay, and are eligible to switch into Tier 1 (General)
  • outside of the UK and eligible to apply for entry clearance under Tier 1 (General)

For any applicants wanting to apply from outside the UK visit the UK Visas and Immigration website, detailing further information regarding processes in the country of application, in addition to available application forms for download.

Domestic worker visas

The category of domestic worker authorises overseas employers to bring any currently employed and well established domestic workers over to the United Kingdom upon a visit or move to the UK. In order to qualify to gain entry clearance as a domestic worker, the worker must be a long standing or established member of staff.

Permission will only be granted to stay within the United Kingdom for a fixed period of time. Upon the end of the authorised time period, either a direct return home or an application of extension is required.

The domestic workers route of residency category is available in both:

  • short-term residency; and
  • long-term residency

The government will not permit visa extensions unless the worker is still employed as a domestic worker upon the expiry of the former visa.

Workers are permitted to change employers while residing within the United Kingdom; however the switch can only take place in the instance that the worker is currently employed as a domestic worker, there must be no period of unemployment between roles.

In the event that a worker wishes to change employers, notification must be provided.

Any domestic workers that have been employed within the United Kingdom for five years, are consequentially eligible to form an application for permanent residency.

Journalist visas

Upon application approval on entry clearance a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation can be granted permission to enter and stay within the United Kingdom for up to two years. When the authorised period expires, either an extension can be applied for, or the visitor will be required to return home.

In the instance that a worker is visiting the United Kingdom for under six months, they may be able to apply under the business visitor category.

Employees can not switch employers while within the United Kingdom.

In the event that the worker has been residing within the United Kingdom for five years as a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation, an application may be made to stay permanently.

Eligibility

This section covers the eligibility criteria required for those wanting to enter the United Kingdom under employment as a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation.

To gain entry clearance to the United Kingdom within this category, the criteria to meet is the following:

  • to hold a valid United Kingdom entry clearance for this category
  • to intend to work as a full-time representative of the organisation
  • to not gain any additional employment
  • to be fully able to maintain and accommodate themselves and any dependants without public funding
  • to be entering the United Kingdom as an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
  • to have been employed by a company or organisation outside of the United Kingdom, while posted to the UK on a long-term assignment.

Turkish workers and immigration

This section covers the rights of Turkish workers within the UK, and how Turkish citizens can legally apply to gain entry clearance, or reside permanently within the United Kingdom if it is their intention to establish themselves in business.

Turkish visitors wanting to establish business within the United Kingdom

The European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) with Turkey, has agreed certain rights for Turkish citizens wanting to establish business within the United Kingdom. Under the set out requirements of the ECAA, Turkish citizens can apply to gain entry clearance into the United Kingdom under the Turkish ECAA business category. Alternatively Turkish citizens within the United Kingdom legally under another category, could be liable to switch to the ECAA route under the business provisions set out in 1973.

Turkish citizens already employed legally within the United Kingdom

This section covers ways in which Turkish citizens are likely to gain an advantage from the European Community Association Agreement (ECAA) with Turkey, in the instance that they are already employed legally within the United Kingdom and applying to extend their visit.

A Turkish citizen legally employed within the United Kingdom due to a visa type authorising work has certain rights founded by the Association Council of the ECAA. These rights include:

  • application for further authorisation to reside within the United Kingdom post one year of continual employment, allowing the continuation of work for the same employer if available
  • employment switch post three years continual legal employment, if continuing to take work within the same occupation
  • employment within any field of work after four years of employment and legal residency

In the instance that an application is successful, the applicant will be granted full permission to reside within the United Kingdom as a Turkish ECAA worker.

However Turkish citizens residing under the ECAA will be unable to make application to reside within the United Kingdom permanently, also known as 'indefinite leave to remain'.

Turkish citizens are also excluded from the benefits of the ECAA in the event that any rules of the United Kingdom immigration law have been breached in order to be able gain employment. In this instance applicants will be required to meet the criteria of the current immigration rules; consequently meaning that the request should be made under Tier 2 of the points-based system.

Applicants can also seek permission for any dependants to gain residency within the United Kingdom.

Commonwealth citizens with UK ancestry

In the instance that a citizen of a Commonwealth country has a single grandparent born within the UK, inclusive of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the citizen is considered to meet the criteria for the application of UK ancestry.

Eligibility

Applications can be made to gain entry, and or residency within the United Kingdom, if the applicant can provide proof that they are:

  • a Commonwealth citizen
  • aged 17 or over
  • a grandchild of a person born within the UK; this is inclusive of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, or a grandchild of a person born prior to 31 March 1922, within what is now known as the Republic of Ireland
  • eligible and intent on gaining employment within the UK
  • able to adequately support and accommodate themselves and their dependants without support from public funds.

If these requirements are not met, applications under another of the available work-based immigration routes may be explored.

Making an application externally from the UK

Permission must initially be sought to gain entry within the UK on the basis of UK ancestry, prior to any attempts of arrival. This legal process is formally known as 'entry clearance'. The entry clearance takes the form of a visa, or in some instances an entry clearance certificate. In order to obtain it, applications should be made to British diplomatic posts within the country of residency upon application.

In the instance that permission to enter and take employment within the UK is granted due to UK ancestry, authorisation to remain for up to five years will be granted.

Making an application from within the UK

In the instance that an immigrant has already entered the UK under another legal channel, i.e. different immigration category, switching is not permitted into the UK ancestry category. Permission to reside within the United Kingdom will only be granted under the conditions of UK ancestry if the visitor entered the UK with entry clearance based on UK ancestry, or in the instance of previous permission to reside within the UK under the category of UK ancestry.

Settling or extending a stay within the United Kingdom

If a resident has lived and worked continuously within the United Kingdom for five years within this category, under the conditions of still meeting criteria requirements of UK ancestry, applications can be made for permanent residency

Extending residency as a migrant with UK ancestry

Commonwealth citizens with permission to take employment within the United Kingdom due to UK ancestry will need to make an application for an identity card for foreign nationals, forming part of their application of visitation extension.

Section 8 of the application form provides details of the documents that must be sent with the form. Original documentation is required; in only extreme circumstances will a photocopy be accepted, and it must be certified as an accurate copy by the official body or authority that originally issued the documentation. A letter must also be included detailing an adequate explanation as to why a certified copy is being supplied, as apposed to an original document.

Applicants must be within the UK to apply, and applications must be made at least four weeks in advance to the expiry of current residency permission with in the UK.

Applications can be made either via post or in person. In the event of applications via post, applications must be sent to the address supplied on the cover of the application form. To make a face to face application, an appointment at a government public enquiry office should be made, a same-day service should be available; however a premium fee is required, and is only suitable for non-complex applications.


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