UK Working Visa Routes

General categories
Tier 2 Skilled Workers
Tier 1 Entrepreneur
Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
Representative of Overseas Business
Tier 1 Investor
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent
Tier 5 visas

General categories

Certain immigration categories confer the right to work without restriction, eg:

 Spouse/civil partner/unmarried partner visa
 Dependant of person who holds work or study visa
 A migrant who holds an EEA Family Permit or EEA Residence Card

 And some Tier 4 students are allowed to work in employment part-time

Tier 2 Skilled Workers

Tier 2 visas confer the right to work in a skilled job as an employee in a specific position for a specific employer.
The employer must hold a Tier 2 sponsor licence in order to sponsor/employ a Tier 2 migrant.
The standard category of Tier 2 migrant is “Tier 2 General”.
Another category is “Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer” (“ICT”), for employees who are being transferred from an overseas branch of the company to a UK branch.
The Tier 2 sponsor licence application to the Home Office is always quite difficult and sometimes very difficult.
But if the licence is successfully granted then the employer may be able to sponsor the Tier 2 migrant.
If the migrant is sponsored then they must apply for a Tier 2 visa.
The visa application may be relatively straightforward, although in many cases the employer has to advertise the post before appointing a Tier 2 migrant, in order to show that they were not able to find a suitable person from the indigenous workforce.
The Tier 2 General visa can lead to settlement after five years but the Tier 2 ICT visa does not lead to settlement.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur

This visa is for migrants who want to set up, join or purchase a business in the UK and run it.
The migrant must show that they have sufficient funds to invest in the business and they must eventually invest the funds and eventually create at least two full-time jobs in the business.
This application is difficult and complicated and the evidential requirements are complex.
And there is an overarching principle that an application must be deemed to be “credible” and “genuine”.
In many cases it is important that the migrant shows that they have academic qualifications and/or experience relevant to the type of business they are interested in.
Thus the rate of visa refusal is high, and it is important to get your documents and evidence (including the business plan) prepared to the best possible standard.
The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa can lead to settlement after five years and, in some case, after three years.

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

This visa is for graduate migrants who aspire to acquiring a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa but are not yet in a position to do so.
They have to have been endorsed by the Department of Trade and Industry or by an appropriate higher education institution as having a genuine and credible business idea.
The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur is allowed to work, and may try to gain experience and carry out research about their proposed business idea.
The visa is initially granted for one year, and may be extended for one further year, and it is possible to switch in-country to Tier 1 Entrepreneur status.
The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa does not lead to settlement.

Representative of Overseas Business

This visa is for senior employees of overseas businesses who are coming to the UK to set up a branch of the company in the UK and run it.
This application is moderately complex, and it is advisable to submit a good business plan, but there is no specific figure for investment in the UK branch and no specific requirements about job creation.
A well-prepared application stands a good chance of success.
The Representative of Overseas Business visa can lead to settlement after five years.

Tier 1 Investor

The Tier 1 Investor visa is an investment visa and not really a working visa, but Tier 1 Investors can work if they want to.
The migrant must first of all show that they hold funds of at least £2 million.
They must subsequently, within the relevant time limit, invest all of their funds in permitted UK investments and subsequently maintain the level of investment.
The evidential requirements are moderately complex, and documents must be prepared carefully.
Differently from most other visas, there is no English language requirement for Tier 1 Investor applicants.
The Tier 1 Investor visa can lead to settlement after five years, but an investor who invests £5 million may be able to acquire it after three years and one who invests £10 million in just two years.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent

This is a very specialised visa, for those who have been endorsed by an official UK endorsing body as having exceptional talent or exceptional promise in one of the following fields:

 science
 engineering
 humanities
 medicine
 digital technology
 the arts
 fashion

This visa enables the migrant to work, and they may qualify for settlement after five years or, in some cases, three years.

Tier 5 visas

The Tier 5 scheme incorporates various different visa routes, some of them very specialised, eg:

 Creative and Sporting Temporary Worker (for performers and sportspeople)
 Charity Temporary Worker
 Religious Temporary Worker
 Government Authorised Exchange Temporary Worker (includes internships and training programmes)
 International Agreement Temporary Worker (for workers who come to the UK under international agreements)

All these visas are granted for a limited period and none of them leads to settlement.

The Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange internship visa can be, for some people, a very useful one. It enables a graduate to work for up to one year as an intern for a UK employer, so they can gain useful work experience.
Tier 4 students may be able to switch in-country to this visa.
This scheme is a lot simpler than the Tier 2 scheme and it is much easier for employers to engage with, because they do not have to directly sponsor the migrant and they do not have to hold a sponsor licence.

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