Skip to main content

UK Work Visas

If you are a non-EEA national and want to come and work in the UK, you need to have a UK work visa. Currently, you will need to have a Tier 2 visa or a Tier 5 visa.  A Tier 2 visa is intended for workers who are skilled individuals seeking to enter the UK to be employed for a long-term position; whereas Tier 5 is a temporary work visa, intended for individuals seeking to enter the UK number for a variety of purposes, for example, as an entertainer, charity worker or diplomatic staff.

Both of these routes will require the visa applicant to ensure that they have received a job offer from an approved sponsor who has a sponsor licence; with the Tier 5 visa offering an exemption for those who enter the UK under the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) Scheme which does not require a job offer from a licensed sponsor.

There are different types of Tier 2 visa (as outlined below), however the main visa route for this category is normally a Tier 2 (General) visa, and to apply for this you need to have been offered a job in the UK by an employer who is a licensed sponsor and who has given you a Certificate of Sponsorship.

The UK government have announced measures for a new post-Brexit Immigration system to come into force from 1st January 2021.  From this date, a skilled worker visa category will come into force for all new EU and non-EU nationals seeking to enter the UK for the purposes of entering the UK on or after 1st January 2021 as a worker.  The successful applicant will need to score at least 70 points by meeting specific visa requirements.  The first 50 points are mandatory and must be met.  This includes obtaining an job offer by an approved sponsor who holds a valid sponsorship licence (20 points), the job must meet the appropriate skill-level requirement (20 points) and the applicant must speak English at the required level (10 points).

The other 20 points are tradeable with the UK government indicating they would consider the level of your income, whether your job was on the shortage occupation list and whether you had a postgraduate doctoral degree (PhD).

At Thorntons, our specialist Immigration solicitors can advise you on your visa options and requirements, and support you throughout the application process.  We can guide you through the new UK immigration system and ensure that you are prepared for the best post-Brexit options.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the questions we are most frequently asked about UK work visas.

Under the current Immigration system in place, to be eligible for a visa to work in the UK, you need to:

  • Be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • Have been offered a skilled job in the UK
  • Have a Certificate of Sponsorship from a company that has a sponsor licence.


We can advise you on the eligibility requirements for a UK work visa and the most appropriate visa application route for you.

There are various different types of Tier 2 work visas for jobs in the UK that require a level of skill. The main ones are:

  • Tier 2 (General) – for all types of skilled jobs
  • Tier 2 Intra-company transfers (ICT) – for when you are transferring within your company based abroad to the UK
  • Tier 2 Minister of Religion – for specific permitted roles
  • Tier 2 Sportsperson – for specific permitted roles


Our UK Immigration Law team can advise you on the different visa options and the most appropriate visa route for your circumstances.

You can find an up-to-date list of sponsoring companies on the UK Government website.

Your sponsoring company will need to ensure  that you can do the job they are hiring you for and that it qualifies you for a visa. They will then issue you a Certificate of Sponsorship. You need this certificate for applying for your visa.

Tier 2 visa requirements mean that you will need a Certificate of Sponsorship from your sponsoring company. This shows they have checked that you can do the job they are hiring you for and it qualifies you for a UK work visa. You will also need other information from the company, such as how much you will be paid.  You will need to ensure that you meet the maintenance requirements and that you can prove that you have sufficient knowledge of English.

Once you have gathered all the relevant documentation, you apply online to the Home Office.

At Thorntons, we can advise you the visa application process, the information you need and help your sponsoring employer with any visa challenges.

The earliest date you can apply for a Tier 2 Work visa is three months before the date you can start work in the UK. This start date will be listed on your certificate of sponsorship.

Applications generally take at least 3 week s if you are applying from outside of the UK. If you are applying from in the UK, applications generally take 8 to 12 weeks.

You can find up-to-date information on visa application fees on the UK government website for both Tier 2 (General) Work visas and Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer Work visas.

Yes. If you are looking to work short term in the UK, you should apply for Tier 5 Visa. Again, you need to be hired by a company with a sponsor licence, who can issue you with a sponsorship certificate for your visa application. The UK government website gives an up-to-date list of sponsoring employers.

Normally, you can extend your Tier 2 Work visa; however, there are certain restrictions in some of the sub-categories. Normally, you cannot extend a Tier 5 Short Term Work visa.

We can advise you on extension restrictions and your visa options.

Tier 2 visa refusals attract the right to challenge the decision by way of an Administrative Review only.  You must submit your Administrative Review within 14 days if you submitted your application from inside the UK and within 28 days if you submitted your application outside the UK. 

Our Immigration Solicitors will be able to advise you on your appeal options and best course of action.

How can Thorntons help?

Our experienced Immigration Law team can advise you on your UK work visa options and support throughout the application process. We have a wealth of experience of applications and administrative reviews and can let you know your options and potential visa routes.

Call the Thorntons Immigration Law team on 03330 430350 to find out more about how we can help with UK work visa advice and applications, or complete our enquiry form and we will contact you.

How can Thorntons help?

Our experienced Immigration Law team can advise you on your UK work visa options and support throughout the application process. We have a wealth of experience of applications and administrative reviews and can let you know your options and potential visa routes.

Call the Thorntons Immigration Law team on 03330 430350 to find out more about how we can help with UK work visa advice and applications, or complete our enquiry form and we will contact you.

Our Services

We have a full range of services in Immigration, backed by our team of Expert Lawyers


Key Contacts

We have a full range of services in Immigration, backed by our specialist team.

Make an Enquiry

Top