Who can work in the UK?*
From 1st January 2021, freedom of movement between the UK and EU has ended, with the UK introducing a new immigration system. This new system treats all applications the same, regardless of which country they are applying from, and there is a range of visas on offer with different requirements.
UK Citizens: Citizens of the United Kingdom have the right to work in the UK without any restrictions.
European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) Citizens: Prior to Brexit, citizens of EU and EEA countries had the right to live and work in the UK under the freedom of movement principle. After Brexit, the rules have changed. EU and EEA citizens who want to work in the UK need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to secure their right to work and reside in the UK. The application deadline was June 30, 2021, but there might be provisions for late applications under certain circumstances.
Non-EU/EEA Citizens: Non-EU/EEA citizens typically require a visa to work in the UK. The type of visa required depends on the nature of the work and the individual's circumstances. Some common visa categories for working in the UK include:
Skilled Worker Visa: This visa is for individuals with a job offer from a UK employer that holds a valid Sponsor License. The job offer must meet certain skill and salary requirements.
Intra-Company Transfer Visa: This visa is for employees of multinational companies who are being transferred to a UK branch or affiliate.
Tier 5 Temporary Work Visas: These visas are for temporary workers, including those participating in government-authorized exchange programs, creative and sporting individuals, and more.
Ancestry Visa: Citizens of Commonwealth countries with a UK-born grandparent might be eligible for this visa if they have a job offer in the UK.
Global Talent Visa: This visa is for individuals recognised as leaders or potential leaders in fields such as science, digital technology, arts, and culture.
Entrepreneur and Investor Visas: These visas are for individuals who want to start or invest in a business in the UK.
Youth Mobility Scheme: Citizens of certain countries between the ages of 18 and 30 (or 35 for certain countries) can apply for this visa which allows them to work and travel in the UK for up to two years.
Dependants: Some visa categories also allow dependents (spouses, partners, and children) to accompany the main visa holder to the UK and sometimes work or study, depending on the visa.
It's essential to check the official UK government website or consult with legal experts or immigration advisors to get the most accurate and up-to-date information about who can work in the UK and the specific requirements for each situation. Keep in mind that immigration policies can change, so it's important to stay informed about any updates.
Skilled Worker visas
The most popular visa now available is the Skilled Worker visa. Anyone from outside the UK can apply for this visa if you can show that:
If the job will pay less than this - but no less than £20,480 – you may still be able to apply by ‘trading’ points on specific characteristics against the salary. For example, if you have a job offer in a shortage occupation or have a PhD relevant to the job.
The Skilled Worker visa has replaced the Tier 2 (general) work visa.
If you're not eligible for a Skilled Worker visa there are other types of visas on offer to work in the UK. You can find out more about these here.
*Please note that immigration and work policies can change, so it's important to verify information with official and up-to-date sources. If you are an employer, here is a link to more information on checking if a potential new team member is eligible to work - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/recruiting-people-from-outside-the-uk