Apply for a Visa


Please note, this information is for general guidance only and the actual conditions and criteria are subject to change at short notice. This is a complex area, dependent on individual circumstances, and the guidance provided here cannot be definitive. The information below is for general guidance only. It was last updated in August 2012. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, see the UK Border Agency website.

For nationals from outside the European Economic Area, you will need to understand how to gain permission to work in the UK and to obtain a visa. The rules governing who has the right to work in the UK change frequently and at short notice. There are also changing limits to the number of skilled workers who can enter the UK in any one year.

If you are a national from the EU or European Economic Area, a Swiss national, or a national of Bulgaria or Romania, visit the European Nationals section of the UK Border Agency website for the latest information regarding your work in the UK.


Do you need a visa?

The Border Agency provides an interactive questionnaire to help you make sense of your visa requirements, as they depend on your individual circumstances. For the latest information, it is strongly recommended that you visit the UK Border Agency website.

The UK operates a points-based system. Migrants must score the required number of points and in most circumstances have a job offer from a licensed sponsor (employer). Categories of migrants are as follows:

High-value migrants

High-value migrants are investors, entrepreneurs and exceptionally talented people. They don’t need a job offer to apply to enter or stay in the UK, but will need to pass a points-based assessment.

Skilled workers

Skilled workers have been offered a skilled job in the UK. If your prospective employer is willing to sponsor you, you can apply to come or remain here to do that job.

Temporary workers

If an employer in the UK is willing to sponsor you, or if you are a national of a country that participates in the youth mobility scheme, you may be eligible to come and work in the UK for a short period on a Temporary workers visa.

Other categories

You can also apply to work in the UK as a domestic worker, as the sole representative of an overseas firm, or as a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation. These are classed as ‘other categories’.

For workers and businesspersons from Turkey

Turkish citizens can benefit from a European agreement with Turkey if they want to establish themselves in business in the UK, or if they are already working here legally.

For Commonwealth citizens with UK ancestry

If you are a Commonwealth citizen and at least one of your grandparents was born in the UK, you can apply to come here to work.

Points to consider:

  • It should never be assumed that an application for permission to work (or an extension) will be granted.
  • It should never be assumed that a visa will be granted even if permission to work has been approved.
  • If you have been granted permission to work you must not commence employment until the correct visa has been issued.
  • It is your responsibility to obtain and maintain the appropriate visa. If it is not maintained the permission to work is invalid.
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