UK Work Permit guide for Employees
Do I need a Work Permit?
Before going to the effort of obtaining a work permit, you should ask:
- Can I get another visa which will allow me to work in the UK without my employer having to get a work permit?
- What are the other visa options?
Can I get another visa which will allow me to work in the UK?
If you fall into one of the following categories of people, you can take up any lawful employment in the UK and do not need a Work Permit:
- Nationals of EU/EEA countries (the EU and European Economic Area comprises the following countries - Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom – and also the EEA countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.
- Those with Indefinite Leave To Remain in the UK (Permanent Residence)
- Those in the UK as the spouse of an EU/EEA national
- Those in the UK as the spouse of a Work Permit holder, Training Permit Holder Sole Representative, Investor, Student, Ancestry visa holder.
- Commonwealth citizens with Ancestry visas (sometimes called ‘patriality ) – you can get one of these visas if you are a Commonwealth citizen and have at least one grandparent who was British and was born in the UK. To get one of these visas you should apply at the British High Commission in your home country. These visas are usually issued for a period of 4 years; after 4 years in the UK you will is generally be eligible to obtain permanent residence.
- Those with pending claims for Asylum in the UK (NB workpermit.com does NOT handle asylum applications).
- Those in the UK on a visa as the ‘partner’ of an EU/EEA national, Work Permit holder, Training Permit Holder Sole Representative, Investor, Student, Ancestry visa holder. These visas are issued in cases where the partners are not legally allowed to marry (for example because they are of the same sex, or because one or both of them are married to someone else) and have been co-habiting for at least 2 years prior to the visa application.
What are the other visa options?
If you are not free to work in the UK without a work permit, you may have a number of other options
- A visit visa. You may be able to come to the UK for up to 6 months as a visitor. During this time, you many not be employed by a UK company, nor are you allowed to do unpaid work. However, you are allowed to attend meetings/interviews. Go to details of UK business Visit Visas
- A ‘Working Holiday’ visa. If you are a commonwealth citizen aged between 17 and 27, you may be able to obtain a visa that will allow you to come to the UK for up to 2 years. This visa allows you to take up "employment incidental to [your] holiday". You can work for up to 50% of the time, either by working part-time (up to 20 hrs/week) throughout, or by working full time for 12 months and not working for the other 12 months. However, you are not allowed to pursue your career or render professional services. This means that you are not allowed to work as an IT professional while on a working holiday visa.
- A Sole Representative visa – if a non-UK company which does not yet have a UK branch/subsidiary, they may be able to send you to the UK to set up a UK office - please click here for details
- A Student visa – if you are in the UK as a student, you are entitled to work for up to 20 hours per week in term time, and up to 40 hours per week during Vacations.
- If you are a national of an EC Association Agreement country (Bulgaria or Romania) you may come to the UK to set up in business and are exempt from the usual investment requirements. Thus may it viable for you to come to set up an IT consulting / contracting company and to work in a freelance capacity. However, applications to enter the UK in this capacity will often take several months to process, and are only viable for those who combine technical skills with business experience. Go to our guide to freelance work in the UK for EC Association Agreement nationals