There are different types of visas for those who wish to work in London. We’ll cover all of these in a moment, but first let’s look at the two different options you have for gaining such a visa. These are:
- Applying yourself
- Using a lawyer or immigration firm to advise and do all the official paperwork for you.
For those who are citizens of an EU or EEA member state, there is no need to get a visa. This is because you already have the right to live and work in any countries that are member, and the UK (and therefore London) is one of these.
For those who are citizens of other countries, you will have to apply for (and be granted) a work visa to be able to work in London.
It can be quite a long and complicated process to apply for a work visa. However, it is completely possible to do it yourself, and all the information you need to do so is on the official UK Government website.
Because it is quite complicated, many people choose to use the services of a professional to carry out the process for them.
Using a lawyer or immigration service
There are hundreds of such services available, but before you choose one to work on your behalf, be sure to check that they are on the Register of Regulated Immigration Advisors.
This is the Government approved list, and services listed are regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).
In addition to the list showing you approved providers, it also includes a list of those who’ve been banned from acting in such a capacity.
Some of these approved providers charge a fee for their services – some don’t. These fees start from around £150, and can extend to upwards of £1,000 per person.
What are the different types of work visas?
One thing you should be sure of when researching the different types of work visas available is to only take your information from the official Government website.
Because the rules for individual visas change from time to time, it really is essential that you get your information here.
There is a lot of outdated advice available online, and there would be nothing worse than to do all the work you think necessary, only to find you’ve been following advice that is no longer relevant.
The visas that are needed for the UK are classified into what are called “tiers.” There are different types of each of these – Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 5.
Some of these visas are very specific, such as those that are for sportspeople of exceptional talent, for ministers of religion, and for those who work within the diplomatic service.
Let’s take a look at the most common types of visas that those who wish to work in London are likely to apply for.
Tier 2 (General) Visa
This is a visa for those who’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK.
To apply, you’ll need to have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor. This is a certificate that holds information about the job and your personal details.
It’s actually a reference number, not a physical certificate. Your sponsor will be able to give you this number.
In addition, the job must pay an appropriate salary. As of November 2015, this amount is £20,800 or more.
As well as the requirements mentioned, you must have a minimum of £945 in savings (that has been in your account for 90 days before you apply).
The only exception to this is if your sponsor is fully approved (A-rated), and has stated on your certificate of sponsorship that you won’t claim any benefits during your stay.
If English isn’t your first language, you may have to prove your knowledge of English.
This can be done in a couple of ways. One is by passing an approved English language test. The other is to have an academic qualification that was taught in English. Nationals of the following countries do not have to prove a knowledge of English.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- New Zealand
- Kitts and Nevis
- Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Documents that you’ll need to provide include:
- A current passport or other valid travel identification
- A passport sized colour photo
- Bank statements
- Proof of your English language skills (as mentioned above)
- TB test results if your applying from a country where you have to take the test
The only way to apply for such a visa is online – except for those who live in North Korea, who will need to download the form and physically fill it in.
You’ll also have to have your fingerprints and photo taken at a visa application centre in your country.
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Visa
If you’ve been offered a job as an intra-company transfer, then this is the type of visa that will apply to you. There are four different kinds:
- Long term – for those who are taking a position that will last over 12 months
- Short term – for those who are taking a position that lasts up to and including 12 months
- Graduate trainee – for transfers into graduate trainee programmes for specialist roles
- Skills transfer – for people who need to gain skills and knowledge for their roles overseas, or to pass on their skills to UK colleagues
As with the Tier 2 (General) visa, you will need to have a job with an appropriate salary, may need to provide proof of your level of the English language, have a minimum of £945 in savings, and provide various documents.
Wow! Seems pretty complicated…
St first look at the hoops you need to jump through to get a work visa for the UK, it does indeed seem complicated – but actually, it’s not so bad once you understand exactly what you need to do.
London is one of the world’s most sought after cities in which to work. People come here for the history and culture, the fact that London is a hub for business, and because it’s a great place in which to enhance your career.
Whether you choose to apply for your visa yourself or use a professional agency instead is a personal choice.
Either way, it takes around 3 months for the application to be approved. Once you’ve got it, you’re free to enjoy working in London and all the wonders the city has to offer. Good luck!