Obtaining a Visa to Work in the UK

What is a Work Visa?

This is certification on your passport by an Entry Clearance officer of the United Kingdom government, vesting you with the authority to enter this country subject to the approval of an immigration officer upon your arrival.

A work visa is granted to you if you are not a British citizen and you are entering this country for employment purposes.  If you wish to come to the UK to study you may be eligible to apply for a Student Visa.

Is Work Visa the Same as Work Permit?

Some may confuse the two terms as alike. But in fact, these terms differ.

  • A work visa is the certification in your passport or any travel document issued by a British mission officer in a foreign country, giving you permission to enter the United Kingdom.

  • A work permit, on the other hand, is a document issued by the Work Permits division of the Home Office in United Kingdom. This is proof of the authority granted to you to serve a specific employer for a particular employment in the United Kingdom. This also allows employers from here to recruit and transfer you if you are outside the European Economic Area or EEA, while protecting the interests of resident employees in the United Kingdom at the same time.

What is a Points Based System?

Otherwise known as PBS, the points based system is a mechanism devised by the Home Office Border Agency as a means to organize work immigration in the United Kingdom.

Implemented in 2008, PBS consolidates the different work groups for visa application. 

Types of UK Visa

As PBS was introduced in 2008, it also marked substantial changes in the classification of foreign workers in the United Kingdom. This new system consolidated work groups into five tiers. Each of these tiers is categorized as points-based. This will be your basis to acquire a work visa for employment in this country.

  • Tier one is for highly skilled workers without job offers but can help contribute to the productivity in the United Kingdom.*

  • Tier two is for skilled workers who have received job offers from United Kingdom employers to fill in vacancies in the labour force. This is otherwise known as ‘sponsorship.’

  • Tier three is for low skilled workers who are only allowed in limited numbers to fill in temporary shortages in labour.

  • Tier four is categorized for students.

  • Tier five is youth mobility and temporary workers who are only allowed entry to the United Kingdom for a limited duration and to serve non-economic ends.

*You do not need sponsorship in the first tier.

Certificate of Sponsorship

This is a certification for workers belonging to the second tier. The certification is issued by an employer from the United Kingdom who gave you a job offer.

A Certificate of Sponsorship is not a hard copy document; rather, it is virtual which appears as record in a database. Each of these certifications comes with a unique reference code with description of the job for which the same was issued and describes the personal details of the applicant.

Documents Needed

Document compliance differs among the classifications of workers. But generally, a work visa applicant will need the following: (1) passport or travel document; (2) your most recent passport-size photo; (3) money to pay the visa fee; and (4) other relevant documents.

Relevant Documents

Supporting documents for your application may include your original work permit, a copy of certificate of sponsorship from your employer, and proof of your qualifications for the job which gave rise to the issuance of the work permit.

Getting a Work Visa

You have several options in applying for a work visa. You can send your application through postal mail or courier. You may also apply in person or fill out an online application. You may direct your application enquiries to officers of visa application centres.

Visa Application Centres (VACs)

These are commercial companies located abroad who are collaborating with the United Kingdom government. These operate visa application centres abroad especially in densely populated countries thereby expediting visa applications for the United Kingdom. Well-trained staff of VACs will take your biometrics and payment of required fees and furnish you with information regarding your application. They, in turn, will forward your data to the Entry Clearance Officer posted in the British mission of that particular country who will either grant or deny your application.