In order to work in the UK as a foreign national you must have the right type of visa in place. A UK work visa will be granted based on the point-based system that is in place, where an applicant must score a number of points in order to be eligible for this visa.
A UK work visa is also known as a Tier 2 visa or Tier 2 workers visa. If you want to work in the UK on a Tier 2 visa you must have a job offer in place from a business who holds a Tier 2 sponsorship licence, before you start your application. Even if your job is on the UK Short Skill List, and you have all the required skills and experience, you must first secure a valid job offer, or your application will be denied.
Tier 2 sponsorship licences for businesses
Businesses must apply for a Tier 2 sponsorship licence before they can recruit overseas talent, and must remain up to date with legislation as their status gets reviewed regularly.
When a business has their licence in place, they are granted the freedom to recruit employees from overseas. Recruited employees can move to the UK once their visa is granted and bring dependants with them on this visa, including dependent children and partners.
Businesses also need a sponsorship licence when employees within an international company with offices in multiple countries move to their UK base. For example, where an international company with offices in the US relocates part of their staff to their UK hub.
Time in the UK
A Tier 2 workers visa allows successful applicants to stay in the UK for up to five years and 14 days, or the time given on the certificate of sponsorship plus one month, whichever is shorter.
Successful applicants can arrive in the UK up to 14 days before the start date on their certificate of sponsorship.
Those who have been legally living and working in the UK for a minimum of 5 years can apply for indefinite leave to remain. A number of requirements must first be met in order to achieve this status, including being of good character and meeting the English language requirements.
Once indefinite leave to remain has been granted, the status holder will no longer be confined by the restrictions of the Tier 2 visa. They can then work for any company in the UK, with or without sponsorship licence, and no longer have to worry about their visa or status if they wish to chance jobs. Indefinite leave to remain allows you to stay in the UK indefinitely, as the name says, so it is not necessary to apply for British citizenship, however many do choose to do so. You are eligible for British citizenship after you have completed a further 1 year with indefinite leave to remain status.
Immigration solicitors Manchester AWH have helped many employees apply for their Tier 2 visa and many businesses to apply for their sponsorship licence. You can apply without the help of a solicitor, however, as the application is complex and even a single mistake can cause refusal it is often advised to speak with a solicitor first.