With its role in the global economy, the UK is offers great opportunities to expanding businesses, thanks to its tech business boom and digital economy. However, before a person can begin working in this economic hub, they must obtain the proper visa or work permit, as established by UK immigration law. For businesses wishing to employ non-UK nationals, this means sponsoring an employee. If your business does not have an entity in the UK, you can use a global PEO as the Employer of Record to sponsor the employee for the necessary permits. This page provides guidance on the UK work visa requirements, and what you need to do to ensure you obtain the correct one for you.
Brexit Update: UK work visa for EU Nationals
Your business must hold a sponsor licence to employ someone to work from you from outside the UK. This now includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020. This does not apply to citizens of Ireland or EU citizens eligible for status under the EU Settlement Scheme. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the new immigration rules as hiring practices for EU and non-EU citizens are now the same.
Skilled worker visa
Under the new points-based immigration introduced which was introduced on December 1 2020, the Skilled Worker Visa is now the main immigration route for all skilled foreign nationals (except Irish citizens) who wish to work in the UK.
To be eligible for the skilled worker visa as an employee, you must prove that you hold an offer of employment from a Home Office Licensed Sponsor, that the job is at the required skill level of RQF3 or above. You also need to be able to the required level of English and be paid the relevant salary threshold by your employer, which is between £23,040 and £25,599.
If the salary is below this threshold, but not less than £20,480, you may still be able to apply for the Skilled Worker visa by trading points against your salary. For example, if you have a PhD in a subject relative to your job or have a job offer in a shortage occupation, as designated by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
The UK’s new points-based immigration system
Under the new points-based immigration system, a total of 70 points is required to be able to apply to work in the UK. See below for the full points system:
|Offer of job by approved sponsor||No||20|
|Job at appropriate skill level||No||20|
|Speaks English at required level||No||10|
|Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039||Yes||0|
|Salary of £23,040 – £25,599||Yes||10|
|Salary of £25,600 or above||Yes||20|
|Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC)||Yes||20|
|Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job||Yes||10|
|Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job||Yes||20|
Intra-company Transfer visa
An Intra-company Transfer visa is for employees who currently work for a multinational corporation and who have been offered a role in the UK branch. It replaces the Tier 2 (ICT) Long-term Staff visa under the old immigration and visa system. The primary criterion for the ICT visa is that applicants must have been employed for the overseas sending company for at least 12 months (unless they are a ‘high earner’ with an annual salary of over £73,900). There are two types of intra-company visa:
- Long-term staff
- Graduate Trainee
Business Visa for the UK
If you’re visiting the UK on a business trip, you may need to apply for a business visa beforehand. The Standard Visitor visa allows you to visit the UK to conduct certain business activities and represent foreign business in the UK for up to six months. Regular visitors can apply for a long-term Standard Visitor visa that lasts 2, 5, or 10 years, allowing you to stay in the country for up to 6 months at a time.
To apply, you must submit an application online and attend an appointment to prove your identity and provide documents. Once an application has been received and you’ve attended your appointment, it usually takes 3 weeks to get a decision on your visa.
As of January 2021, a Standard Visitor Visa costs £95. The long-term Standard Visitor Visa fee depends on its length:
- 2 years – £361
- 5 years – £655
- 10 years – £822
How INS Global can help you
Obtaining a UK work visa for your employees can be difficult to navigate for those unfamiliar with the recently updated immigration rules. INS Global is the world’s leading PEO and global mobility specialist. With our experience in the UK immigration process, our consultants can help your company obtain the necessary visas and permits for you to get your staff working in the UK with no delay. Get in touch with our team today to learn more about how we can help you with your hiring needs in the UK.