Each year more than 35,000 people from destinations such as Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand decide to live and work in the UK for some time. Spending time in a different environment is a great way to discover new things, gain work experience, embrace new cultures and broaden your horizons. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as saying goodbye and getting on a plane for Heathrow.
How do I get there?
If you are one of the lucky few who already have a European Union passport, this article is not for you. Travellers with a European passport can work not only in the UK but anywhere in the European Union. If you don’t have a European passport, read on. In the UK, a wide selection of immigration, residence and work permits are available to you to fulfil your dream of living and working. Some of these options can even lead to permanent residence, British citizenship and a British passport.
The work permit system
The UK Work Permit Scheme is an employer and job-specific program designed for professionals or executives who bring value and skills to the UK labour market. If you have a job offer from a UK employer and you meet certain criteria, you may be able to apply for a work permit. The main objective of these visas is to assist companies in their international development and to employ key employees who do not have the required work status in the United Kingdom. A work permit can be issued for a maximum period of five years. After working with a work permit for four years, the holder can apply for a residence permit / indefinite stay in the UK.
The program for highly qualified migrants (HSMP)
The HSMP is designed to allow highly qualified people to migrate to the UK in search of work or self-employment opportunities. The highly skilled migrant program differs from the work permit program in that you do not need a specific job offer in the UK to apply. This points-based program works on points obtained in five key areas: academic qualifications/work experience / previous earnings / your achievements in the chosen field / the performance of your husband, wife or unmarried partner. If you score 65 or more, you qualify as a highly-skilled migrant. The HSMP visa is initially granted for one year. After the first year, people benefiting from the scheme can ask to stay longer, but they must remain economically active. The visa is then extended for three years. After completing the 4 total years, you can also request an indefinite period of stay (permanent residence).
Working holiday visa
If you are under 30 and live in a Commonwealth (former British Empire) country, you are likely entitled to a working holiday visa. The working holiday visa is valid for two years and allows you to work legally in the UK for 12 months. This is a popular option among young South Africans, Australians and New Zealanders who want to gain some work experience while enjoying free time to travel across the UK.
Permanent residence and citizenship
If you have spent 4 consecutive years on the HSMP or work permit, you may have the right to request unlimited leave (permanent residence). After another year of indefinite leave and once you have spent 5 years in the UK, you may be entitled to naturalization (the process of becoming a British citizen). If your application is accepted, you will become a full-fledged British citizen with this essential British passport.
Does that seem complicated?
Some travellers find these visa assignments and requirements a little confusing. Several companies make it a point to understand all the rules and regulations regarding foreigners living and working in the UK. Some of these companies even go so far as to help you find a job and open a UK bank account. Sometimes it is easier, in the long run, to entrust professionals to something as upsetting as the “Living and Working in the UK” experience.
If you’ve decided to live and work in the UK, visa, applying for foreign bank accounts and finding a job, many seem difficult to say the least. Whether you are exploring the world, your career, or your finances, 1st Contact offers a range of services to make your life and work in London easier. 1st Contact services are open to applicants from all over the world who wish to live and work in the UK.