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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For everybody – but requires sponsorship from a UK company, ie a job offer first, then a visa. Visa 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.
For everybody, doesn’t require sponsorship – but requires endorsement from an approved business endorsing company or a UK university. A business plan has to show an innovative idea. Visa is for 2 years, allows to work only for your own business. Doesn’t lead to settlement, have to switch to another category.
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
For certain nationals from the approved list, such as Australia or Japan, up to 30 years of age. India – by ballot, which means by invitation from the pool. Visa is for 2 years and allows to work without sponsorship. Doesn’t lead to settlement, have to switch to another category.
If you have spent 10 years, continuously and legally, in the UK on any 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!
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 in a relationship with a European citizen, who has a pre-settled or settled status in the UK, you can still apply as a family member under the ‘pre-Brexit’ rules, as long as a family relation (or relationship) existed on 31.12.2020. After that you will be able to apply for a Spouse/Partner visa under the UK Immigration Rules on the same terms and partners of British citizens, i.e. with meeting the Financial Requirement £18,600, 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 Tier 2 General or a Skilled Worker, 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.