Duncan Lewis


Asylum, Detention/ Fast Track

Managed Migration, Public Law

How Do I Know if I Can Work in the UK?

Date: (29 August 2011)    |    

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Duncan Lewis:Whether or not you are allowed to take up work in the UK will largely be determined by where you have come from. People who are not British citizens or citizens of EEA (European Economic Area) countries will have to get a visa to enter the UK.

If you fall into this category, when you get your visa in your own country the staff at the British Overseas Mission there will clear you and stamp your passport with the clearance certificate. Once you arrive in the UK, there is a points-based system in operation which will determine the types of work that you are entitled to do. This applies to all non-EEA nationals and non-Swiss nationals. It may seem rather complicated at first, but it is actually straightforward and explains clearly what types of work can and cannot be undertaken by foreign non-EEA nationals in the UK. Immigration solicitors are always available to explain the ins and outs of the system.

The points system consists of five basic tiers. Tier 1 covers highly-skilled workers. Tier 2 is for skilled workers who have obtained an offer of employment in the UK. Tier 3 concerns low-skilled workers who are filling temporary shortages in the labour market. Tier 4 concerns students, and Tier 5 applies to temporary workers and youth mobility workers.

When you make your initial application to come to the UK to work you must cite one of these tiers in your application, depending on what sort of work you are looking for, or what service you can offer the UK. For example, you would make an application under Tier 1 if you are a highly-skilled worker, investor, entrepreneur or post-study worker and are applying to visit the UK or want to extend your visit here.
If you are a skilled worker and have already secured a job offer for working in the UK then you can make your application to come under Tier 2. To do this you will need a Certificate of Sponsorship. This has to be supplied by an organisation that has a licence from the UK Border Agency. You will also have to supply evidence of earnings, maintenance arrangements, qualifications and proficiency in English.

The Tier 3 route, which is concerned with unskilled workers, is often suspended depending on fluctuations in the labour market in the UK, so if you are planning on coming via this route you will need to check its status with the UK Border Agency before you apply.

For Tier 4 student applicants there are two basic categories. ‘General students’ includes anyone over the age of 16 who is applying to come as a student. ‘Child students’ covers children from four to 17 coming for education purposes.

If you are applying as under Tier 5 as a temporary or youth mobility worker you may be a musician coming to the UK to take part in a concert, for example. You would need to have a Certificate of Sponsorship like Tier 2 applicants and similar additional criteria concerning earnings and qualifications. Applicants in Tiers 2 and 5 cannot claim public funds, and if they want to change jobs whilst here they must apply to the UK Border Agency before doing so. A firm of solicitors such as Duncan Lewis will be happy to assist in any problem areas.