This article is reviewed regularly by Wego‘s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate.

Imagine cycling to your office, breathing in fresh, unpolluted air, and glancing at crystal-clear streams flowing under arched bridges. Or picture yourself taking a double-decker red bus, with the breeze brushing your face. What could bring more joy and a better work-life balance than the United Kingdom?

The UK has long been a top destination for people aspiring to work abroad, thanks to its abundance of opportunities and the potential for skill enhancement. London was the most popular city to move to last year, and for good reason. Along with world-class workspaces, the UK’s climate, nature, and landscapes are major draws, making many dreams of calling Britain home.

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Read on as Wego explores various methods and options along with their requirements for moving to the United Kingdom for work.

Moving to the United Kingdom

Moving to the United Kingdom is a straightforward but detailed and time-consuming process. If you aspire to enter Great Britain, there are several requirements and prerequisites you should be aware of before planning your journey.

Along with the usual requirements like a job offer and the right visa, it is also advisable to have thorough preparation and understanding of the legal, financial, and cultural aspects to help ensure a smooth transition. This comprehensive guide will elaborate on these aspects.

For further detailed information and government updates, visit the official website of the UK government.

Look for employment

Before planning the logistics of entering Great Britain for work, the most basic prerequisite is securing a job. If you already have one, that’s great. If not, start by finding the right job for you. Once you have a job offer, you can proceed with applying for the appropriate visa.

UK work visa

In the United Kingdom, there are various types of work visas, and you may need to choose one based on the profession you are entering. Below is a list of the different work visas available.

Alternatively, to know more about your specific UK work visa and its requirements, you can refer to our dedicated UK work visa requirements article.

Skilled Worker visa

The Skilled Worker visa is the most popular visa for foreigners working in the UK. It allows you to work for an authorized employer in the UK and also in UK waters. 

Requirements

This visa is suitable for you if you meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • you must have knowledge of English
  • you must work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work you do
  • The specific eligibility depends on your job.
Validity

Your visa can last for up to 5 years. You should apply to extend your visa when it expires or if you switch jobs or employers.

Fees

Skilled Worker visa costs from GBP 719 to GBP 1,500. Plus, you will need to pay the healthcare surcharge of around GBP 1,035 for each year you’re in the UK.

Graduate Work visa

With a UK Graduate Work visa, you can work flexibly, switch jobs, and develop your career for two years after completing a course in the UK.

Requirements
  • you’re in the UK
  • your current visa is a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • you studied a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree or other eligible course for a minimum period of time with your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • your education provider (such as your university or college) has told the Home Office you’ve successfully completed your course
Validity

A Graduate visa lasts for 2 years. If you have a Ph.D. or other doctoral qualification, it will last for 3 years.

Your visa will start from the day your application is approved.

Fees

When you apply for a graduate visa, it will cost you a GBP 822 application fee, and you will need to pay the healthcare surcharge of around GBP 1,035 for each year you’ll be in the UK.

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge when you apply. If you’re eligible for a graduate visa for 2 years, it will cost you GBP 2,070, and for 3 years, it will cost you GBP 3,105.

Temporary Work visas

Temporary Work visas allow applicants to work in the UK for up to 12 months. This category includes the Seasonal Worker visa, Government Authorised Exchange visa, Creative Worker visa, Religious Worker visa, Charity Worker visa, and International Agreement visa.

Requirements

In general, to be eligible for a Temporary Work visa, you must have:

  • a valid job offer from a UK-based institution that holds a Certificate of Sponsorship, and it’s legally allowed to hire international workers.
  • a certificate of sponsorship from your sponsors.
  • at least GBP 1,270 in savings, available in your bank account for at least 28 days in a row.
Validity

The amount of time you can stay depends on the length of your visa and the start and end dates of your job.

Depending on the scheme you apply for, you’ll get a visa for a maximum of 12 months or 24 months.

Fees

To proceed with your application for this visa, it is necessary to submit a payment of GBP 298.

Furthermore, if you intend to bring your family along, an additional fee of GBP 244 per member will be required.

Overseas Domestic Worker visa

Domestic workers such as cleaners, chauffeurs, cooks, or nannies employed by the same private household for at least one year and living outside the UK may apply for the Overseas Domestic Worker visa through their employer.

Requirements

In order to be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • are 19 or older
  • have worked for your employer for at least 1 year
  • work in the same household as your employer or one they use regularly
  • plan to travel to the UK with your employer, their partner, or children
  • intend to work as a full-time domestic worker in a UK household your employer will live in
  • plan to leave the UK at the end of 6 months
  • can support yourself in the UK without the need for public funds

Your employer must be either:

  • a British citizen who usually lives outside the UK and who does not intend to remain in the UK for more than 6 months
  • a foreign citizen who is coming to the UK on a visit and who does not intend to stay for more than 6 months
Validity

You can use this visa to visit the UK with your employer for up to 6 months. You must return home at the end of the 6 months.

You cannot extend an Overseas Domestic Worker visa.

Fees

It costs GBP 637 for an Overseas Domestic Worker visa.

International Sportsperson visa

The International Sportsperson visa allows sponsored coaches or sportspeople to work in the UK to develop their sport at the highest level.

Requirements

To qualify for the International Sportsperson visa, you must meet the listed requirements:

  • must be a qualified coach or elite sportsperson recognized by the governing body of your sport.
  • your application must be endorsed by the governing body of your sport.
  • your employment will develop your sport in the UK at the highest level.
  • must have a certificate of sponsorship.
  • must provide proof that you have knowledge of the English language.
  • have enough money to support yourself in the UK.
  • show your travel history for the last five years.
  • have a tuberculosis test if you are from a listed country.
  • have an eligible occupation if you are switching from a student visa.
Fees

The fee depends on how long you want to stay:

  • if you’re staying up to 12 months, the fee is GBP 298 per person.
  • if you’re staying for longer than 12 months, the fee depends on whether you’re:
    • applying outside the UK – GBP 719 per person
    • applying inside the UK to extend or switch – GBP 827 per person

High Potential Individual (HPI) visa

The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa allows you to stay in the UK for at least 2 years if you have a recent qualification from an eligible university.

Requirements

Below are the requirements that you need to fulfill to be able to get an HPI visa:

  • have a qualification equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK postgraduate degree, or a UK Ph.D. or doctorate from a top international university from outside the UK
  • have been awarded your qualification in the last 5 years
  • prove your knowledge of English
  • prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK unless you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months

You also need to apply to Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) to check your qualification is valid and at the right level.

Validity

An HPI visa usually lasts for 2 years. If you have a PhD or other doctoral qualification, it will last for 3 years.

Fees

The application fee for an HPI visa is GBP 822. In addition, you must pay the healthcare surcharge, which is usually GBP 624 per year. 

Youth Mobility Scheme visa

The Youth Mobility Scheme visa allows you to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years if you are aged 18 to 30 and meet specific nationality or residency requirements.

Requirements

For this visa, you will need to fulfill these requirements:

  • be aged between 18 and 30 years old
  • have no children under 18 years old who live with you or who you’re financially responsible for
  • not have been granted a Youth Mobility Scheme visa before
  • have GBP 2,530 in savings to support yourself in the UK
  • pay an application fee of GBP 298 and a healthcare surcharge of GBP 470 per year

You can apply for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa if you’re aged 18 to 30 and you’re from:

  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • San Marino
  • Iceland
  • Andorra
  • Uruguay

Please note that if you are from Australia, Canada or New Zealand for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa if you are aged 18 to 35

If you are from these countries, you must be selected in the Youth Mobility Scheme ballot before you can apply for your visa:

  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
Validity

Your visa will make you eligible to live and work in the UK for up to 24 months.

Fees

The application fee is GBP 298. In addition, you must pay the healthcare surcharge, which is usually GBP 470 per year.

Global Talent visa

You can apply for a Global Talent visa to work in the UK if you’re a leader or potential leader in academia or research, arts and culture, or digital technology.

Requirements

To be eligible for a Global Talent visa, it is typically required that you obtain a successful endorsement as evidence of your leadership abilities or potential. However, if you have received a qualifying award, you may apply for the visa without an endorsement. Find out which awards are eligible here.

Find out what you can do with a Global Talent visa and how to apply for an endorsement if you work in one of the following fields:

Validity

With this visa, you can live and work in the UK for up to 5 years.

Fees

It costs GBP 716 to apply for this visa. If you’re applying based on an endorsement, you’ll pay GBP 716 in two parts:

  • GBP 524 when you apply for the endorsement
  • GBP 192 when you apply for the visa itself

If you’re applying based on an eligible award, you’ll pay the full GBP 716 when you apply for the visa.

How to apply for a UK work visa?

Applying for a UK visa generally involves three steps:

  • fill in the online application: the online application for your UK work visa will ask for basic information such as your name, nationality, passport number, and reason for traveling to the UK.
  • schedule a visa appointment: print the visa application and attend your appointment at the visa center with all necessary documents.
  • attend the visa interview: if required, attend the interview calmly and confidently, answering questions truthfully. This process will also involve obtaining your biometrics, such as fingerprints and a photograph.

Please note that there might be challenges or delays in processing your visa. It’s crucial to allow sufficient time for these processes and avoid planning a spontaneous or impulsive move to Britain.

Living in the UK

After successfully overcoming every hurdle and entering the United Kingdom to start your work, there are several necessary things to consider for your living in the UK. The first and foremost requirement is a residence permit if your stay in the UK exceeds 6 months.

UK biometric residence permit

You do not need to apply separately for the biometric residence permit, as it is part of your visa application. Once you arrive in the UK, you can collect this permit at a post office. This document serves as proof that you are legally allowed to live and work in the UK.

After five years of staying in the country, you become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (Permanent Residency). One year after holding an ILR, you can usually apply for British Citizenship.

Transportation

If you plan to drive in the UK, check whether your current driving license is valid or if you need to apply for a UK driving license. Additionally, familiarise yourself with British public transportation systems, including Oyster cards (in London) and rail passes.

Emergency contacts

Most immigrants arrive in the UK alone, so it is beneficial to find someone local for immediate help or at least familiarise yourself with local help and assistance numbers in case of emergencies.

Here are some important numbers that could be handy:

  • General Emergency – 999
  • Police – 999 (112 is also supported)
  • Ambulance – 999 (112 is also supported)
  • Fire – 999 (112 is also supported)
  • NHS Direct – 111 (when you need medical help, but it’s not life-threatening)
  • UAE Embassy – 20 7581 1281
  • US Embassy – 020 7499 9000
  • Australian Embassy (emergency) – 20 7379 4334
  • Indian Embassy – 20 7836 9147

Financial aspects of living in the UK

The cost of living and financial aspects of moving to the United Kingdom for work can vary significantly depending on the location. Below are some key financial considerations to keep in mind:

Cost of living

  • groceries: if you are moving alone, the cost of groceries would typically range from GBP 150 – GBP 250 per month
  • dining out: an occasional meal at a mid-range restaurant might cost GBP 15 – GBP 25 per month
  • miscellaneous expenses: other minor expenses might add up to GBP 50 – GBP 150 per month

These are the basic necessities for groceries and dining. Other factors, such as transportation, fuel, and healthcare, can be added according to your needs. These figures will increase proportionally if you are moving with your family.

Salary expectations

Salaries in the UK vary depending on the type, nature, and level of employment. However, the median annual salary for full-time employees in the UK is approximately GBP 31,000. Here are the average salaries for some popular jobs among immigrants:

  • IT and software development: GBP 40,000 – GBP 70,000
  • engineering: GBP 30,000 – GBP 60,000
  • finance and accounting: GBP 35,000 – GBP 65,000
  • healthcare (doctors and nurses): GBP 30,000 – GBP 100,000
  • education: GBP 25,000 – GBP 45,000

Salaries tend to increase in areas with a higher cost of living, such as London, and decrease in areas with a lower cost of living.

Healthcare

Having the right to work and live in the UK comes with the advantage of accessing the National Health Service (NHS). This allows you to visit any doctor or health service at a subsidized cost or no cost at all.

This scheme means you do not need compulsory personal health insurance and can access quality healthcare services. It is also advisable to find and register with a local general practitioner (GP) for any immediate medical needs.

Taxation

The UK has a progressive income tax system with different bands. Here is a basic overview if you have a standard Personal Allowance of GBP 12,570:

  • personal allowance – Up to GBP 12,570 – 0% (tax-free)
  • basic rate – GBP 12,571 to GBP 50,270 – 20%
  • higher rate: GBP 50,271 to GBP 125,140 – 40%
  • additional rate: Over GBP 125,140 – 45%.

If your taxable income exceeds GBP 125,140, you do not get a Personal Allowance.

Understanding these financial aspects will help you plan and manage your finances effectively, ensuring a smooth transition and a stable life in the UK. Always consider consulting with financial advisors and using official resources to get the most accurate and up-to-date information.

 

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