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Working in the UK
  1. Working in the UK

    We regularly advise employers in relation to all immigration categories which allow non-British nationals to work in the UK.

    The rules in relation to employing non-British workers and the law and document requirements for immigration applications are complex and subject to change, often with little notice. Therefore, we recommend seeking advice at an early stage to help ensure compliance with these requirements and to avoid delays.

    Some information on the most common categories is set out below.



    • Skilled Workers

      If a non-British national or non-Irish national has been offered a medium or highly skilled job in the UK and the prospective employer is willing to sponsor them in the UK, they may be able to apply to come to, or remain in, the UK to do that job under the Skilled Worker route. The UK company must have a sponsor licence and the individual must be issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship by the employer. The role must be sufficiently skilled and there are also minimum salary requirements. The individual must also be able tos how that they meet the English language requirements.

      After five years in the UK under this route the individual may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (i.e. settlement). 

    • Senior/Specialist Worker route (previously called the Intra Company Transfer route)

      Individuals who are employed by an overseas company may be able to come to the UK to work for a UK group company under the Senior/Specialist route. The UK employer must be registered as a sponsor and will need to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to the individual. The role must be a highly skilled role (broadly a managerial or professional role) and the individual must be paid the appropriate salary for the role, as determined by the Home Office. Currently the minimum salary requirement is £42,400 per annum. There are no English language requirements to apply under this route.

      Time spent under this route does not count towards settlements and individuals may only spend a maximum of five years in any six years in the UK.

    • Temporary Workers

      It may be possible for an employee to come to the UK to fill a temporary supernumerary position or to undertake an internship or work placement for up to 12 months under the Government Authorised Exchange Scheme and we are able to guide you through the process.

      Alternatively, if the employee is a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, San Marino, Hong Kong, Iceland or India and is are aged 18-30 they may be able to come to the UK for up to two years under the Youth Mobility Scheme. Applicants also need to have at least £2,530 in savings. Individuals cannot apply under this route if they have children under the age of 18 who live with them or if they have children they are financially responsible for. There are different rules for Indian nationals applying under this route.

    • Service Supplier route

      This new route is for “contractual service suppliers” and “self-employed independent professionals” who are based overseas and who need to undertake a temporary assignment in the UK to provide services covered by one of the UK’s international trade commitments. This route replaces the contractual service supplier and independent professional provisions in the Temporary Work - International Agreement route. Applicants will need to be working as or for an overseas service provider that will provide services to their UK sponsor and must usually have worked as or for the overseas service provider outside the UK for a cumulative period of 12 months. Their UK sponsor must have a contract with an overseas service provider, where that contract has been registered with the Home Office, and on which the applicant, as a Service Supplier, will work.

      Applicants will also need to have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job they are planning to do, issued by the UK company to whom the services are supplied that is authorised by the Home Office to sponsor a Service Supplier. The role must usually be a highly skilled role but there is no minimum salary threshold (other than individuals must be paid at least the National Minimum/National Living Wage). Applicants will also not need to satisfy an English language requirement but must meet the maintenance requirements. In some cases there are additional nationality or residency requirements.  Individuals will only be able to come to the UK for 6 or 12 months under this route and time spent in the UK under this route does not lead to settlement. 

    • Global Expansion Worker route

      This route is aimed at overseas businesses wishing to expand into the UK as it allows up to five senior or specialist employees of the overseas company to come to the UK to help to set up a branch or wholly owned subsidiary of an overseas business that has not started trading in the UK yet. The company will need to apply for a sponsor licence under this category first.  Subject to a few exceptions, the overseas business will need to show that it has been trading for the last three years and that there is a credible expansion plan in relation to the UK business.  It will also need to show that there is a footprint in the UK (either by having registered a wholly owned subsidiary or branch office with Companies House or by having premises in the UK) but that the business is not yet trading in the UK.

      Individuals may only stay in the UK for a maximum of two years under this route and time spent in the UK as a Global Expansion Worker does not count towards settlement.

    • Secondment Worker route

      This is a new route for workers being seconded to the UK “as part of a high value contract or investment by their overseas employer”. The contract must be for at least £50 million. Applicants must be working for an overseas business that has a contract with their UK sponsor that has been registered with the Home Office by the UK sponsor and must usually have worked outside the UK for that overseas business for a cumulative period of at least 12 months.

      The UK job must meet the minimum skill level but there is no minimum salary threshold (other than individuals must be paid at least the National Minimum/National Living Wage). There is no English language requirements.  This route does not lead to settlement.

    • Scale Up route

      This is another new route which goes live on 22 August 2022. This route is intended to allow those with a job offer at the required skills level from a recognised UK scale-up business to qualify for a fast-track visa. To be eligible, applicants must have a job offer for a graduate level role (RQF level 6) and the individual must be paid at least £33,000 per year or the minimum salary for that particular role.

      Applicants in this route must have a job offer from an authorised UK scale-up company which has registered as a sponsor for this route. To register, a company will need to demonstrate that they have had an annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous three year period in terms of turnover or staffing. Companies will also need to have had a minimum of 10 employees at the start of this three year period. We understand that the Government will consider further ways in which scale-up companies may be able to register for this route in due course.

      While the initial application requires the individual to be sponsored by their employer, they do not have to be sponsored to extend their leave. Successful applicants will be permitted to work full time at any skill level but they will have to work in a job skilled to graduate level, for their sponsoring employer, for the first six months. After that, their immigration status will no longer be tied to that employer.

      Permission will be granted for two years. To extend their permission to stay applicants must demonstrate PAYE earnings of at least £33,000 per year for at least 50% of their time in the route. Extensions will be granted for three years.

      Applicants must also meet English language requirements and they must meet the usual maintenance requirements by demonstrating funds of £1,270 held for at least 28 days.

      After five years in the UK under this route applicants may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain. Applicants will need to have PAYE earnings of at least £33,000 in 24 months of the three year period immediately prior to their application for settlement, as well as demonstrate that they meet the standard settlement requirements.

    • High Potential Individual route

      This is a new route for individuals to come to the UK to work without the need for a job offer or sponsorship. To be eligible, the individual must have been awarded an overseas degree from a university on the Global Universities List during the five years before their immigration application, which is equivalent to or which exceeds a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree.

      The Global Universities List is the list of universities published by the Home Office on the website, which is compiled on an annual basis and consists of all non-UK institutions that are ranked in the top 50 of at least two of the following ranking systems:

      • Times Higher Education World University Rankings 

      • Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings

      • The Academic Ranking of World Universities

      In addition, applicants must meet English language and maintenance requirements. Successful applicants will be granted two years' permission, unless their qualifying degree is a PhD, in which case they will be granted three years' permission. Importantly, this route does not lead to indefinite to leave to remain (also known as settlement). Prior to the expiry of their leave, those in the UK under the High Potential route would need to switch into another route, such as Skilled Worker. 

    • Visitors

      In some cases, it is possible to come to the UK as a businessperson, sportsperson or entertainer as a ‘visitor’ on a short-term temporary basis. However, the activities which can be undertaken by visitors are limited. If the proposed activities in the UK are likely to go beyond these, an application in another immigration category will be required.

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  2. News


    The new scale-up visa

    Delays in UK visa processing times

    The new sponsorship roadmap

    Right to work checks update


    Immigration update - March 2021

    Briefing Notes

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