Working in the UK

Immigration routes which allow to take up employment or set a business in the UK are rather limited. 

The most common option is sponsored employment, previously known as Tier 2 route and since December 2020, known as Skilled Worker route. 

Same as Tier 2, Skilled Worker route requires the employer to “sponsor” their overseas employee. In order to sponsor an employee, the employer has to have a sponsor licence, has to confirm that the job requires a certain level of skills and the salary to be paid.

Those who have been sponsored under Tier 2 route continue to have their sponsorship valid. Their extension of stay will automatically take place under the Skilled Worker route and more favourable conditions will apply when it comes to applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Another category specifically designed for people who wish to come to the UK for work is for commonwealth nationals with a UK-born grandparent. This route is called UK ancestry. There is no age limit for the route and it allows employment, self-employment and setting up a business.

EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status have the right to work. And so do their family members with pre-settled or settled status or a family permit.

Family members of migrants in most long-term immigration categories are allowed to take up employment in the UK without the need for further applications or permissions. For example, partners of students, Tier 2 migrants, ancestry visa holders, representatives of overseas businesses, investors, entrepreneurs or start-up visa holders are permitted to take up employment without restrictions and do not need sponsorship for their roles.

Students are allowed to work in the UK for 20 hours a week during the term time or full time during the holiday period as long as they are studying at a degree level in a state funded university.

There are also various programmes for temporary work and work experience, such as Youth Mobility scheme for Commonwealth citizens under the age of 30, Government Authorised Exchange for internship and work experience programmes, or Charity Workers. These routes were previously part of the so-called Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) of the Points Based System which has now been renamed to remove Tiers. These routes do not lead to settlement in the UK. Switching to Skilled Worker route is allowed.

There are provisions for sole representatives of an overseas business who may apply for permission to come to the UK in order to set up a branch or subsidiary of their employer’s business. Business owners are not allowed to be representatives of their own business. 

Entrepreneurs and innovators are limited to working in their own businesses or as self-employed.

Global talent visa for leaders in academia or research, arts and culture or digital technology, allows greater flexibility but requires endorsement from the government approved endorsing bodies. Holders of exception talent visa can take up employment, set up their own business or work as self-employed. They will need continued endorsement for the visa extension.

Investors have unlimited employment options and can also set up and run their own businesses.

Immigration routes which allow to take up employment or set a business in the UK are rather limited. 

The most common option is sponsored employment, previously known as Tier 2 route and since December 2020, known as Skilled Worker route. 

Same as Tier 2, Skilled Worker route requires the employer to “sponsor” their overseas employee. In order to sponsor an employee, the employer has to have a sponsor licence, has to confirm that the job requires a certain level of skills and the salary to be paid.

Those who have been sponsored under Tier 2 route continue to have their sponsorship valid. Their extension of stay will automatically take place under the Skilled Worker route and more favourable conditions will apply when it comes to applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Another category specifically designed for people who wish to come to the UK for work is for commonwealth nationals with a UK-born grandparent. This route is called UK ancestry. There is no age limit for the route and it allows employment, self-employment and setting up a business.

EU nationals with settled or pre-settled status have the right to work. And so do their family members with pre-settled or settled status or a family permit.

Family members of migrants in most long-term immigration categories are allowed to take up employment in the UK without the need for further applications or permissions. For example, partners of students, Tier 2 migrants, ancestry visa holders, representatives of overseas businesses, investors, entrepreneurs or start-up visa holders are permitted to take up employment without restrictions and do not need sponsorship for their roles.

Students are allowed to work in the UK for 20 hours a week during the term time or full time during the holiday period as long as they are studying at a degree level in a state funded university.

There are also various programmes for temporary work and work experience, such as Youth Mobility scheme for Commonwealth citizens under the age of 30, Government Authorised Exchange for internship and work experience programmes, or Charity Workers. These routes were previously part of the so-called Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) of the Points Based System which has now been renamed to remove Tiers. These routes do not lead to settlement in the UK. Switching to Skilled Worker route is allowed.

There are provisions for sole representatives of an overseas business who may apply for permission to come to the UK in order to set up a branch or subsidiary of their employer’s business. Business owners are not allowed to be representatives of their own business. 

Entrepreneurs and innovators are limited to working in their own businesses or as self-employed.

Global talent visa for leaders in academia or research, arts and culture or digital technology, allows greater flexibility but requires endorsement from the government approved endorsing bodies. Holders of exception talent visa can take up employment, set up their own business or work as self-employed. They will need continued endorsement for the visa extension.

Investors have unlimited employment options and can also set up and run their own businesses.

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