If you want to come to the UK to take up a job offer, or stay here in order to work, you need to make sure that you have the right immigration permission. Not all visas or residence permits allow you to work, and working without permission is a criminal offence.
Below are some of immigration categories that allow you to work in the UK, but you must understand the different restrictions on hours or job categories that might apply:
Points-Based System: Skilled Worker
The Skilled Worker category is for skilled workers with a job offer in the UK. Your employer must be a registered sponsor, and issue you with a Certificate of Sponsorship so you can make your application for a visa or leave to remain. Your job must be at the correct skill level (new applicants in this category can only take graduate-level jobs) and minimum pay levels are set by the Home Office. Your employer will have to monitor your attendance at work, and they have a duty to inform the Home Office if you are absent without permission or if you leave your job.
Points-Based System: Intra-company
The Intra-company category is for employees of international businesses who can be transferred for overseas to work in a UK office. There are separate sub-categories for long-term workers and graduate trainees.
Points-Based System: Temporary Worker
Temporary Worker covers a number of temporary work categories including internships, temporary religious workers, and “youth mobility” for working holidaymakers. You will need a sponsor, and to be prepared for the fact that you are not usually allowed to transfer into any more permanent category from within the UK.
Innovator and Start-Up
Innovator and Start-Up visas are available for applicants with an innovative business idea with potential for growth in the UK. The Innovator category requires endorsement by an approved body (the list includes a variety of business consultancies and support programs). The Start-Up category is aimed at graduates, and allows endorsement by a UK higher education institution.
You could be eligible for a Global Talent visa if you are recognised as a leader or potential leader in your field. Your application must be endorsed by a recognised body in the field of academia and research, arts and culture, or digital technology.
To qualify for thee Investor visa you must have at least £2 million available to invest in a limited number of government bonds or shares or loans in UK companies.
Adult students on full-time educational courses at degree level or above can usually work for up to 20 hours a week during term time and full time during the vacations. At lower levels, 10 hours of work per week may be permissible.
Appendix FM family members
Partners given visas or residence permits because of their relationship with a British citizen or settled person can usually work without restrictions. However, be aware that if you come to the UK as a fiancé or proposed civil partner, you must not work until you have had your ceremony and successfully applied for further permission to stay in the UK.
If you are from a Commonwealth country and you have a grandparent who was born in the UK (or Ireland before 1922), then you could be eligible for a UK Ancestry visa. Ancestry visas are granted for 5 year period, and allow unlimited work in the UK. You could be eligible for indefinite leave to remain at the end of that period if you have lived in the UK for long enough. Ancestry visa conditions are very generous compared to many other categories, so it is well worth investigating your eligibility.
European nationals and family members
Nationals from member states of the European Economic Area and Switzerland who arrived in the UK before 11.00 pm on 31 December 2020 may apply for permission to stay in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. Their non-European family members may also apply to join or remain with them in the UK, in most cases as long as the family relationship existed before 31 December 2020.
You can read more about this in the Brexit FAQ.
It is worth considering whether you or your children might have British citizenship, or be eligible to register as British because of your place of birth or ancestry.
I can advise you about working in the UK, including helping you to choose the right application, and proving your right to work to employers.