Work Permits for Non-EEA Nationals

Understand the requirements for foreign passport holders from outside the EEA coming to the United Kingdom to work...

For anyone wanting to come and work in the UK from a country outside the EU and Switzerland, there is a points-based system which awards work permits to those with the highest points.

The tiered system is split into four categories:

  • Tier 1 - Highly-skilled, investors, entrepreneurs and recent graduates
  • Tier 2 - Sponsored skilled workers
  • Tier 4 - Students
  • Tier 5 - Temporary Migrants

Tier 3 visas no longer exist and were originally for unskilled workers.

Exceptional talent, investors, entrepreneurs and recent graduates (Tier 1 visa)

To work in the UK with a Tier 1 visa, it is not necessary for a person to have a job to come to, but they must show that they have certain skills, or a certain amount of money to invest, and then apply for the relevant visa. Points are awarded according to a person's age, qualifications, previous earnings and English language skills. Applicants who pass the points tests will be given a visa.

Before applying for a visa through this system it is advisable to use the Government's self-assessment points-based calculator to see whether an application is likely to be successful. If this is the case, then a VAF9 form from the Government website needs to be downloaded and filled in. Alternatively, any visa application centre at the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate will have more details.

Before applying, a person must have taken a biometric test at their nearest visa application centre. A biometric test is a ten digit finger scan and a digital photograph. An application will only be processed when this data has been collected and verified.

Sponsored skilled workers (Tier 2 visa)

To work as a sponsored skilled worker a person must already have a job offer from a licenced sponsor and pass the points-based assessment.

Once a person has entered the UK with the right criteria, that person can stay in the country for up to five years. This visa can be extended but can not exceed six years.

Temporary workers (Tier 5 visa)

If a person wants to come to the UK for temporary work, the rules are the same. Both an offer of a job and the points-based assessment must be secured before applying for the correct visa. Most temporary work can be carried out for a maximum of 12 months. In some cases, the person will have the opportunity to apply for a further 12 months.

Short-term Work

A person might be employed abroad but need to come to the UK to carry out some work for a project, for example, do filming for a TV documentary. In this case, a person may stay for a maximum of six months without a visa if they come from a country whose citizens do not require a visa to enter the UK.

Anyone who would like to come to the UK as a business visitor should:

  • Be based abroad
  • Be paid abroad
  • Not sell goods or services directly to the public
  • Not replace someone in the UK
  • Not come to the UK to do work placements or internships

Coming to the UK to Study

Adults and children are able to apply for student visas (Tier 4 visas) to come to study in the UK. Visas for adults are awarded on a points-based system. They must be able to prove that they have been offered a place to study at an acceptable university or college. They must also be able to prove that they can finance their studies.

Children between the ages of 4 and 17 can apply for a child student visa.

Change of Contact Details

Employed migrants under the points based system must inform the UK Border Agency of their change of contact details.

Send the form to the following address:

  • UK Border Agency
    Change of Circumstances Form
    PO Box 3468
    S3 8WA

Health Screens

Applicants for visas for longer than six months from certain countries require a certificate to show that they are free from tuberculosis (TB).