Working in the UK

Thanks to the global nature of the employmentmarkets, we have seen a steady increase in the number of candidates coming to work in the UK from overseas in recent years. With this in mind, we have compiled this general fact sheet, which we hope will answer most of your queries concerning working legally in the UK. If you do have any further questions regarding this important area, do not hesitate to contact us – and keep an eye on our web site for the latest
international opportunities. 

What type of visas and work permits are available?

Although there are numerous types of status you can work under in the UK, listed below are the
main ones:

Visit visas (for business). As the name suggests, this covers you to be in the UK on business. It allows you to enter the UK to attend meetings and conduct business (usually for a period of up to 6 months) – not to work, however.

For example, for an IT Programmer, this means no coding – but interviews, discussions with potential partners/ clients/employers or making presentations would be acceptable under this category. Working Holiday Maker visa. This visa allows commonwealth nationals under the age of 30 to work in the UK for up to 1 year of the 2 year visa. If your initial time in the UK on a WHMV is positive, you can switch to another type of visa to extend your stay.
Ancestry visa. This status allows those with a UK born grandparent to gain an initial 5 year visa which can lead to permanent residency, or have your Ancestry visa extended. You can apply from within your home country but must show that you can support yourself whilst in the UK or have a letter from a UK employer saying that you have
been offered a (permanent) job. Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) visa. This new status allows those who
gain enough points for qualifications/professional experience/achievements/earning power to gain an initial 2 year visa which is extendable providing that during the year you have been successful in establishing a career or business in the UK.

Work Permits (WP1).

Work Permits must be sponsored by a UK employer, and restrict you to work for the sponsoring company. The length of approval varies, but they are easily extendible if necessary, and can lead to Permanent Residence after 5 years. The employing company will have to prove that there is no EEA national who can do the job. To qualify, you must either be a graduate or have at least 3 years relevant high level experience. Spousal visa. The duration of this status is dependent on the duration of your spouses work permit. If you have a spouse that has gained a UK work permit, then you do not require your own permit to work. You can work in any capacity with no restrictions on transferring between different companies. You must, however, apply for the correct entry clearance outside of the UK, regardless of your nationality.


Permanent Residence/‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’.

You would be entitled to this after 5 years in the UK on a work permit, HSMP visa, ancestry visa or as their dependent. This will entitle you to work free from conditions in the UK, but not in the rest of Europe. Once you
have been on ILR for 1 year, you can apply for a UK passport (but be warned, the application can take 18 months).

Student visas.

These usually last for the duration of the course. This status allows you to work up to 20 hours per week during term time full time during vacation. On completing your studies, you may be able to transfer from your student visa to a Work Permit or HSMP visa.

Irish Ancestry.

If you have a grandparent who
was born in Ireland (Republic of Ireland after 1922, Irish Free State before 1922) then you are probably entitled to Irish nationality. You must first register as an Irish National Overseas, and can then apply for your passport. This is a long process, but will entitle you to work free from travel/work restrictions across Europe.

How do I apply for positions in the UK?

The easiest way to get a position in the UK is to apply either for vacancies via UK agencies or to apply direct to UK companies. Opportunities are most easily found by either looking in the UK trade press or on the various internet recruitment sites. Eutopia’s own site ( is a good source of high-calibre opportunities in the
UK and across Europe – some where our clients are prepared to sponsor non-EU candidates. If you have the right to work in the UK (whether it be on a Working Holiday Maker, Ancestral, HSMP, or Spousal visa), you should find that both contract and permanent opportunities are open to you. If however you do require sponsorship, it is
highly likely that there will be more permanent opportunities open to you – although you might still get companies willing to sponsor you for contract roles (usually dependent on your technical skills). The process of applying for a job in the UK, however, can sometimes be a frustrating one. You might apply for a job that looks ideal only to be
rejected because you don’t have a work permit – and how can you get a work permit without having a job offer? Don’t expect it to be easy – this can turn into a frustrating Catch-22 situation although the new HSMP visa can be a way out if you qualify for enough points. However, we recommend persistence – because it will eventually pay off – and are certain that it will be worth the wait for you. The key is to work with your selected agents – and ensure that you keep in regular contact with them.

How long does it take to get a WP1 work permit?

Current processing time for South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders and Americans (plus a few other nationalities) is approximately 2-4 weeks; some other nationalities can take slightly longer. You will also need to add a few weeks at either end of the process whilst the relevant paperwork is organized. You should allow a total
processing time of 4-8 weeks. You can help to speed up the process by having all of your paperwork ready – such as original references from previous employers and all of your education certificates. This will be useful when a
company does decide to employ you – and can then move forward quickly with your application.


Can I work in other European countries on a UK work permit?

Unfortunately not. You need to hold a passport from an EU country to have the right to work in any other European country without further consideration. A UK work permit is exactly that – a permit to work in the UK – not the rest of Europe. Where can I get more information? There are many sources of information on working legally in the UK.

Try the following web sites for up to date information:

Other useful information sites include: – tourist information – tourist information (London) – street maps of UK – train timetables and routes – with online booking – buying and selling new & second hand goods – house rentals – house rentals and sales – rentals and sales – house rentals (shared) – house rentals and sales (London) – cost of living, education, salary cost comparisons – expatriate information – information on UK schools

Again - thank you for the interest you have shown in Eutopia and our client’s opportunities. We look
forward to working with you in the future – and to welcoming you personally to the UK when you arrive.
Please note that the information contained in this document is accurate at the time of writing. However, visa laws and regulations do change and we accept no liability for any losses arising from information acted upon in this fact sheet.

For the latest developments in this area, see the British Government web sites listed above.