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Coming to the UK for work: your immigration options

There are a number of options for workers coming to the UK. These can be divided into options for EEA nationals and their family members and options for other nationals of other countries. This blog deals only with worker options for non-EEA nationals.

There are work options for persons that wish to come to the UK for the short-term only and those that wish to come with a view to settling in the UK.

Tier 2 worker types:

One of the most common routes used by workers is that of Tier 2. Tier 2 workers come in different forms, there are Tier 2 (General) workers, Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer) workers, Tier 2 (Sportsperson) workers and Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) workers. The most commonly used of these is the Tier 2 (General) worker. This route allows employers within the UK, who are unable to find workers within the resident labour market, to recruit from overseas.

Shortage Occupation recruitment:

How this recruitment is done, depends on the role. Some jobs are what’s known as ‘Shortage Occupation’ so they are roles which the UK has a shortage of, as such the Home Office make it easier to recruit from overseas. The requirements for each role are laid out in the Shortage Occupation List itself. For example, most roles on the Shortage Occupation List do not require a Residence Labour Market Test. That means, the employer does not have to advertise the role available and certify that there are no British, or residents in the UK that could perform the role suitably. However, with some Shortage Occupation roles, the employer would still have to advertise. This includes nurses for example.

Some jobs in the UK, whilst not being shortage occupation, can still have overseas nationals recruited to the roles. In these instances a Resident Labour Market test must be carried out. This requires the employer to advertise, for 28 calendar days, on the ‘Find a job’ service and in one other place.

The above looks at the recruitment process through the employers eyes. As an employee you may be wondering, how do I get to come to the UK and use my skills? The short answer is that you must apply for UK jobs. If you are successful in the applications, then you will need to speak with the employer about the prospects of them employing someone under Tier 2.

Realistically, you should speak to the employer before making the application to avoid wasting your time during the application process. Sponsorship is expensive and if the employer does not have a Tier 2 licence they will have to obtain one. There are significant employer duties that go with managing a licence and many employers will not be willing to put in the time or funds required to properly manage this. It’s therefore worthwhile having a conversation with your potential employer early on in the recruitment process.

Tier 2 intra-company transfers:

As well as Tier 2 (General), Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer) is also a common route. In order to utilise this route there must be a need for you from your employer in the UK and you will need to be working in an international organisation with a branch in the UK. It is also important that you are aware that Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer) no-longer leads to settlement. As such, after five years with a firm, you will need to be willing to return to your country of origin.

This provides a short look at the most popular routes for workers in the UK. Other blogs provide more detail on the less common routes and an Immigration lawyer can talk you through the route that’s best for you.

Westkin Associates


5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

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