Work permit rules and regulations


Applying for permission to work in the UK can seem complicated as there are various immigration statuses that allow you to get a job. Discretionary Leave, for example, will allow you to work, as explained in our Guide to Discretionary Leave, but there are also dedicated work visas available.

It can be useful to seek the advice of an experienced immigration lawyer in order to avoid immigration problems. To start the process, however, this guide offers some basic information on specific work permit rules and regulations, including an explanation of the two principal types of visa which offer the permission to work in Britain under the Points Based System.

Tier 1 Visas

The General Visa in Tier 1 replaced the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) and will give you the right to work in the UK without you needing an employer to sponsor your work permit.

The major advantage of this type of visa is that it offers you the freedom to move around in the British employment market. It also enables you to work as a freelancer or start a business in Britain.

Employers of people who hold a Tier 1 Visa do not need to be registered or audited by the UK’s Home Office as a result of employing a person from a non-EEA country.

There are Tier 1 Visas available for a range of different purposes. These include the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa, for example, together with visas aimed at Exceptional Talent and Investors. There is also the Tier 1 (General Visa).

Tier 2 Visas

Tier 2 Visas operate in a similar way to the previous work permit system. The major difference, however, is that employers have the responsibility of registering with the UK Home Office and for issuing a work permit, now known as a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Failure to do this correctly can result in the revocation of Tier 2 Visas that have been approved previously and there may be associated fines. This is why many employers choose to make use of the services of immigration solicitors to ensure that costly mistakes are not made.

In the same way as Tier 1 Visas are separated into different categories, Tier 2 Visas come in various forms. These include Tier 2 (General) Visas, Intra-Company Transfer visas and those aimed at Sportspersons and Ministers of Religion. More details on this type of visa can be find in our Tier 2 visas and working in the UK guide.

More visa options

Tier 5 Visas are available for temporary workers. These include Charity Worker, Creative and Sporting, Government Authorised Exchange, International Agreement and Religious Worker visas. Other visas include Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Visas.

Other types of work permit visas include the Turkish Businessperson Visa, the Turkish Worker Visa, and the UK Ancestry Visa. Croatian nationals may also have to apply for a registration certificate in order to work in the UK.

To ensure that you apply and receive the right immigration status if you intend to work in the UK, get in contact with our team of expert immigration lawyers today.

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