The UK’s economic opportunities, cultural diversity, education system, and historical connections attract numerous expats. People from various countries, including India, Pakistan, the EU, the US, and Africa, consider the UK a highly sought-after destination for work. If you are interested in working in the UK, you will need a work visa that permits you to come to or stay in the country for an eligible job with an approved employer.
Below, we outline the requirements for most UK work visas.
UK work visa general requirements
These are some general requirements that you usually need when applying for a work visa in the UK as a foreigner:
- your certificate of sponsorship reference number – your employer will give you this
- proof of your knowledge of English
- a valid passport or another document that shows your identity and nationality
- your job title and annual salary
- your job’s occupation code
- the name of your employer and their sponsor license number – this will be on your certificate of sponsorship
Suppose your documents are not in English; you must provide a certified translation. Moreover, you might be asked to provide additional requirements based on your situation.
- evidence that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK, for example, bank statements (unless your certificate of sponsorship shows your employer can support you)
- proof of your relationship with your partner or children if they’re applying with you
- your tuberculosis test results, if you’re from a listed country
- a criminal record certificate – if you’re working in specific jobs
- a valid ATAS certificate if your employer tells you that you need one because your job involves researching a sensitive subject at PhD level or higher
- your unique Ecctis reference number (formerly unique UK NARIC reference number). Since your qualification is from outside the UK – you’ll need to apply through Ecctis
- a blank page in your passport for your visa
UK work visa types and requirements
Skilled worker visa
The skilled worker visa is the most famous visa for foreigners who work in the UK. It lets you work for an authorized employer in the UK. This visa replaced the Tier 2 work permit and enables you to work on UK waters too.
Your visa can last for up to 5 years. You should apply to extend your visa when it expires or if you switch jobs or employers. This visa is suitable for you if you meet the following eligibility requirements:
- you must have knowledge of English
- you must work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
- have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK
- do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
- be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work you do
There will be other particular qualifications that vary based on your career. Skilled worker visa costs from GBP 625 (AED 2,856) to GBP 1,423 (AED 6,506).
Graduate work visa
With a UK Graduate Work visa, you can work flexibly, switch jobs, and develop your career for two years after completing a course in the UK. You can apply for this visa if:
- you are currently in the UK on a student visa.
- you studied a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree, or other eligible courses for a minimum of 12 months with your student visa.
- your university or college has told the Home Office that you have successfully completed the course.
When you apply for a Graduate visa, it will cost you GBP 715 (AED 3,269) application fee, and you will need to pay the healthcare surcharge of around GBP 624 (AED 2,853) for each year you’ll be in the UK.
Temporary work visas
Temporary work visas allow the applicant to work in the UK for a short period, usually up to 12 months. Under this visa is the Seasonal Worker visa, Government Authorised Exchange visa, Creative Worker visa, Religious Worker visa, Charity Worker visa, and International Agreement visa.
In general, to be eligible for a temporary work visa, you must have:
- A valid job offer from a UK-based institution that holds a Certificate of Sponsorship and it’s legally allowed to hire international workers.
- A certificate of sponsorship from your sponsors.
- At least GBP 1,270 (AED 5,806) in savings, available in your bank account for at least 28 days in a row.
To proceed with your application for this visa, it is necessary to submit a payment of GBP 189 (AED 864) for individuals from Turkey and North Macedonia and GBP 244 (AED 1,115) for citizens from other countries.
Furthermore, if you intend to bring your family along, an additional fee of GBP 244 (AED 1,115)per member will be required.
Overseas domestic worker visa
Suppose you are a domestic worker, such as a cleaner, chauffeur, cook or nanny, employed by the same private household for at least one year and live outside the UK. In that case, you may be eligible to apply for this type of visa through your employer. Other eligibility requirements must also be met:
- are 19 or older
- have worked for your employer for at least 1 year
- work in the same household as your employer or one they use regularly
- plan to travel to the UK with your employer, their partner, or children
- intend to work as a full-time domestic worker in a UK household your employer will live in
- plan to leave the UK at the end of 6 months
- can support yourself in the UK without the need for public funds
Your employer must be either:
- a British citizen who usually lives outside the UK and who does not intend to remain in the UK for more than 6 months
- a foreign citizen who is coming to the UK on a visit and who does not intend to stay for more than 6 months
India Young Professionals Scheme visa
This visa allows Indian citizens between 18 and 30 years old to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years. You must be selected in the India Young Professionals Scheme ballot before you can apply for this visa.
To be eligible for this visa, you must:
- be an Indian national or citizen between 18 and 30 years old
- be at least 18 years old on the date you plan to travel to the UK
- have a qualification at bachelor’s degree level or above (Regulated Qualifications Framework level 6, 7 or 8)
- have GBP 2,530 (AED 11,556) in savings to support yourself in the UK
- not have any children under the age of 18 who live with you or who you’re financially responsible for
You also need to pay an application fee of GBP 259 (AED 1,184) and a healthcare surcharge of GBP 940 (AED AED 4,298).
International sportsperson visa
The International Sportsperson visa allows sponsored coaches or sportspeople to work in the UK to develop their sport at the highest level. To qualify for the International Sportsperson visa, you must meet the listed requirements:
- must be a qualified coach or elite sportsperson recognized by the governing body of your sport.
- your application must be endorsed by the governing body of your sport.
- your employment will develop your sport in the UK at the highest level.
- must have a certificate of sponsorship.
- must provide proof that you have knowledge of the English language.
- have enough money to support yourself in the UK.
- show your travel history for the last five years.
- have a tuberculosis test if you are from a listed country.
- have an eligible occupation if you are switching from a student visa.
High Potential Individual (HPI) visa
A High Potential Individual (HPI) visa gives you permission to stay in the UK for at least 2 years. To apply, you must have been awarded a qualification by an eligible university in the last 5 years. Below are the requirements that you need to fulfill to be able to get an HPI visa:
- have a qualification equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK postgraduate degree, or a UK Ph.D. or doctorate from a top international university from outside the UK
- have been awarded your qualification in the last 5 years
- prove your knowledge of English
- prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK unless you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months
- pay an application fee of GBP 152 (AED 695) and a healthcare surcharge of GBP 624 (AED 2,853) per year
You also need to apply to Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) to check your qualification is valid and at the right level.
Youth Mobility Scheme visa
A Youth Mobility Scheme visa allows you to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years if you are aged 18 to 30 and have certain types of British Nationality or are from certain countries or territories listed in the eligibility requirements below. Other than that, you will need to fulfill these requirements:
- be aged between 18 and 30 years old
- have no children under 18 years old who live with you or who you’re financially responsible for
- not have been granted a Youth Mobility Scheme visa before
- have GBP 2,530 (AED 11,556) in savings to support yourself in the UK
- pay an application fee of GBP 259 (AED 1,184) and a healthcare surcharge of GBP 470 (AED 2,149) per year
You can apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa if you’re aged 18 to 30 and you’re from:
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- If you’re from New Zealand, from 29 June 2023, you’ll be able to apply if you’re aged 18 to 35.
If you are from these countries, you must be selected in the Youth Mobility Scheme ballot before you can apply for your visa:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
Global talent visa
With this visa, you can live and work in the UK for up to 5 years. To be eligible for a Global Talent visa, it is typically required that you obtain a successful endorsement as evidence of your leadership abilities or potential. However, if you have received a qualifying award, you may apply for the visa without an endorsement. Find out which awards are eligible here.
Find out what you can do with a Global Talent visa and how to apply for an endorsement if you work in one of the following fields:
It costs GBP 623 (AED 2,849) to apply for this visa. If you’re applying based on an endorsement, you’ll pay GBP 623 (AED 2,849) in two parts:
- GBP 456 (AED 2,084) when you apply for the endorsement
- GBP 167 (AED 764) when you apply for the visa itself
If you’re applying based on an eligible award, you’ll pay the full GBP 623 (AED 2,849) when you apply for the visa.