A - Z list of UK work visas

Ancestral  

For Commonwealth citizens with a grandparent born in the UK. Visa is for 5 years and allows to work without sponsorship. Settlement after 5 years. 

Global Mobility

Several temporary work visas, which don’t lead to settlement. Such as a Secondment Worker and similar categories that replaced Intra-Company Transfers. Sponsorship is required.

 

Global Talent  

For everybody, doesn’t require sponsorship but requires endorsement from an approved body, such as Arts Council or Tech Nation. These organisations assess ’talent’, then immigration authorities issue visas. Visa is for up to 5 years, allows to work without sponsorship but only in endorsed field of your ‘talent’. Settlement after 3 to 5 years.

Graduate

 
For graduates from UK universities, who are completing a degree while on a Student visa (or old Tier 4 visa). Visa is for 2 years and allows to work without sponsorship. Doesn’t lead to settlement, but it is possible to switch to another category. 
 

Health and Care Worker  

 

Sub-category under Skilled Worker visa. Same process, sponsorship etc, but lower fees and faster process. Visa is for up to 5 years and allows to work only for the Sponsor. Settlement after 5 years. 

High Potential Individual (HPI)

 

For those who have graduated from top international universities in the past 5 years. A list of universities is produced for each year (we are talking the likes of Harvard). Visa is for 2 years , or 3 years for PhD graduates, and allows to work without sponsorship. Doesn’t lead to settlement, have to switch to another category.  

Hong Kong BNO

For those with a  British National (Overseas) status. Visa is for 5 years and allows to work without sponsorship.      

Skilled Worker

Available for all nationals and requires sponsorship from a UK company, ie a job offer first, then a visa. Change a job – have to change a visa. The visa itself is for up to 5 years and allows to work only for the Sponsor. Settlement after 5 years. We have a dedicated page on this visa here.  

Student – old name Tier 4

For those studying for a degree at a UK university. Allows to work without sponsorship but maximum 20 hours per week and full-time during vacation and after the course. Doesn’t lead to settlement, have to switch to another category. 

Youth Mobility Scheme – working holiday

This visa is for certain nationals from the approved list. You can apply if you aged 18-35 years and you are from Australia, Canada, New Zealand or South Korea. You can apply if you are aged 18-30 years and are from Japan, Iceland, Uruguay and some others. There is a ballot system if you are from Taiwan or hold a Hong Kong SRA passport. There is also an India Young Professionals Scheme, which operates on a system similar to a ballot. None of these schemes lead to settlement, but you will be able to switch to another category, such as a Skilled Worker (if you find a Sponsor) or to a Partner visa. 

10 years continuous residence in the UK

 

If you have spent 10 years, continuously and legally, in the UK on most visas, you can qualify for settlement. Common paths include study at school, study at university, working, settlement after 10 years. It can even be just 10 years of studying because studies at a school level aren’t included in the cap. There are further requirements to meet, such as very strict limit on absences from the UK during this time, which can be (and often is) a dealbreaker, but even then, there may be a point where, with more extension, you can reach it soon!

Partner, Spouse and Family visas

These are visas based on your relationship, and they all allow working in the UK. Spouses and partners of British citizens can get a Spouse/Partner visa, we have a detailed separate section here. Same applies if your partner has a permanent residency status.

Parents of British citizens can get a Parent visa. Same if your child isn’t British but has lived in the UK for 7 years.

If you are related to a European citizen, who has a pre-settled or settled status in the UK, you can still apply as a family member under ‘pre-Brexit’ rules, as long as a family relation (such as marriage) existed on 31.12.2020. If not, you can consider a Spouse/Partner visa under the UK Immigration Rules on the same terms and partners of British citizens, meeting the Financial Requirement, English language test etc, as on the page above.

If you are in a relationship with a migrant, who is on a route to settlement, such as Skilled Worker or Global Talent, you can apply for a Dependant visa.

All the family options above allow working in the UK. Tier 2/Skilled Worker Dependants can work for any employer while the main migrant is restricted to working for their Sponsor.