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The UK Working Visa Guide

  • by: Claire Kennett
  • On: 8, Aug 2022
4 min read

In 2021, there were over a million visas granted to work in the UK. Like anywhere, applying for a visa takes some time, there’s a lot of paperwork and some fees to pay, but a working visa can open doors to exciting new opportunities for you and your career.

Find out how to get a UK work visa below.

What is a skilled worker visa?

A skilled worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do a job you are qualified for, with an approved employer.

It allows you to stay and work in the UK for up to five years. When you reach the end of your visa duration, you’ll need to extend it. You’ll also need to update it if you change jobs. You can extend or update your visa indefinitely, as long as you still meet all the requirements we’ll explain below.

 After living in the UK for five years, you can apply to live there permanently, which is called ‘indefinite leave to remain.’

It’s important to note there are no general work visas for casual employment.

When to apply for your visa

 You can apply for a visa up to three months before the day you’re due to start work. This date will be listed on your certificate of sponsorship, which we’ll talk more about later on.  

Once you’ve applied, you should receive a decision on your visa within three or four weeks.

How to get a visa to work in the UK


You’ll have to apply online

All UK work visa applications must be submitted via the government website. There are different applications depending on whether you’re applying from outside the UK, extending your visa, or switching types of visa.

You can include your family in your visa application, if they are also eligible. They may need to submit their own visa applications.

Pay the visa fee

The application fee ranges from £625 - £1,423 depending on your circumstances. You’ll also need to pay a healthcare surcharge of £623 per year of your stay in the UK. You may also need to provide proof of savings of at least £1,270, to prove that you can support yourself.  

Your visa fee will be less if your job is on the occupation shortage list.

You must be able to speak English

To get a work visa, you must be able to speak, read, and write in English. You’ll need to prove your understanding of the language when you apply.

Work for an employer that’s been approved by the Home Office

 Your visa sponsor must be a registered company that has been approved by the Home Office.

 You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa.

Have a certificate of sponsorship from your employer

Your employer must provide and sign an official certificate of sponsorship for you. This certificate must have information about your employer, and the role you’ll be doing while living in the UK.

Have a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations

 There are certain jobs which are eligible for visas, and some that aren’t. Check the list of eligible jobs for UK visas here.

Earn the minimum required salary

 The current minimum required salary to qualify for a UK visa is £25,600 annually, or £10.10 an hour. These requirements may be higher depending on your role.

Additional documents you may need for your visa application:

Proof of your relationship with your spouse or children if they’re coming with you

 Tuberculosis test results if you’re coming from a listed country

 A criminal record certificate

A valid ATAS certificate if your your job involves research or work at a PhD level or higher

Education certificates

The Free EU Settlement Scheme

If you or your family moved to the UK from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, or Iceland by December 31st 2020, you may be able to apply to the Free EU Settlement Scheme. The official deadline was July 31st 2021, but if extenuating circumstances such as illness or abuse stopped you from applying, you may have grounds to make an application now.

Other types of visas

The skilled worker visa is the only that can lead to permanent settlement. There are five other visas that allow for short-term work in the UK, check with your employer which is best for you.

The Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

This allows specialist workers to move between UK and international offices. To be eligible, candidates must be currently working for the sponsor overseas and have worked outside the UK for the sponsor for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

 The Graduate Trainee Visa

This is for companies in the UK with overseas operations that have graduates who need specialised training to gain the experience of a work placement in the UK that is leading to a specialised role or senior position.

The UK Expansion Worker

This allows overseas companies to deploy multiple representatives to the UK to establish and expand operations there.

The Service Suppliers Visa

This visa is for contractors or self-employed independent professionals based overseas.

The Secondment Workers Visa

This is a brand new route for workers being seconded to the UK as part of a high value contract or investment by overseas employers.

If you’re ready, here is the link you will need to apply for your UK work visa.

The UK has relied on workers emigrating there for hundreds of years. In many cities there are a huge mix of cultures, with people from all over the world living and working together. Getting your visa can be the first step towards a brand new life, or a big step up in your career.

Learn how to create the perfect CV as an engineering student, or read about the best engineering jobs for the future

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