Visas for the UK
Understanding the fundamentals
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Standard visitor visas in the UK
Foreigners visiting the UK on holiday may need a visa depending on their nationality. Nationals of most non-EEA countries will need a standard visitor visa, which is usually valid for six months.
To obtain this visa, applicants will need to show that they’re able to support themselves financially while in the UK, and that they have strong ties to their home country such as having a job to return to.
Foreign nationals who enter the UK on a visitor visa aren't able to take up any form of paid employment. These visas are strictly for tourists, doing business or visiting friends or family.
Work visas in the UK
EEA nationals do not need a visa to work or live in the United Kingdom, but all other foreign nationals will need a work visa.
Work visas for the UK are issued according to various criteria. There are numerous schemes and skill enticements, each of which has unique requirements and entitles the individual to a specific set of rights. The more highly skilled and experienced an applicant is in a desirable field, the better the chances of a smooth and speedy application process.
Skilled Worker Visa
This category is for skilled workers who have a formal job offer from a registered UK company for the purpose of filling a labour shortage that can’t be filled by locals.
Each year, the UK designates a list of prospective occupations marked by shortages; expats equipped to fill these roles have a higher chance of receiving a work visa.
Skilled Worker Visa applications must include proof of qualifications, future expected earnings, sponsorship from an employer and sufficient English language skills.
A Skilled Worker Visa can be valid for up to five years and can be renewed as long as requirements are still being met.
Intra-company Transfer Visa
Employees of a multinational corporation who are sent to the company’s branch in the UK will require an Intra-company Transfer Visa. There are two sub-categories: one for long-term staff and another for graduate trainees. There are strict requirements to be met with regards to the applicant’s history with the company and the salary they will be earning in the UK.
Youth Mobility Scheme Visa
The Youth Mobility Scheme working holiday visa is available for nationals of several countries including Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30 to apply. Those who qualify can enter the UK without a job offer and use this working holiday visa to work and travel. The scheme is designed to give young people the opportunity to live and work in the country for up to two years and is a great way to see what living and working in the UK is actually like.
Permanent residence in the UK
Expats who want to remain in the United Kingdom for the long term can apply for permanent residence once they’ve lived in the UK for a period of time, usually five years. This varies according to visa category.
Being a permanent resident means an individual has Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status in the UK, giving expats the freedom to live and work in the UK without restrictions.