Who can work in the UK?

All EU/EEA and Swiss nationals can enter and work in the UK without the requirement for a visa.


Which countries are included in the EU/EEA?

Click here for the full list


How do we employ citizens of non EEA countries?

The UK has a points-based Tier visa system which includes 5 visa categories.  Applicant must score sufficient points to be eligible for a visa.  Various categories including age and English fluency are taken into account. 

Tier 1 - This visa category is for 'high-value migrants' from outside the EEA

Tier 2 - This category is for 'skilled workers' from outside the EEA with a job offer in the UK.

Tier 3 - This category was designed for low-skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages   

Tier 4 - This category is for students aged over 16 from outside the EEA who wish to study in the UK.

Tier 5 - This category contains six sub-tiers of temporary worker.


How do individuals obtain a visa?

Individuals will obtain Tier 1, 4 and 5 visa either via an individual’s application or via another institute. 

Tier 2 is the only visa where an employer sponsors the individual.  Under the sponsorship route, the individual can only work for the sponsored organisation under a Tier 2 with the exception to medics who can work for 20 hours per week for another organisation.


What is a Sponsorship?

Before a migrant worker (non EEA/UK) can apply to come to the UK to work or study they must have a sponsor. 

Sponsorship plays two main roles:

  • It provides evidence that the migrant worker will fill a genuine vacancy in the UK that cannot be filled with a suitably qualified or skilled worker or that they are studying for an approved qualification and,
  • It involves a pledge from the sponsor that it accepts all of the duties expected of them when sponsoring a migrant.


How do we apply for a Tier 2 visa?

Tier 2 visas are applied for via the Sponsor Management System (SMS) specific organisation.  


What are the duties of a Licenced Sponsor?

Ensure that the sponsor system is not abused; capture migrants behaviours; monitor compliance with immigration rules.


What is a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)?

A CoS is a virtual document with a unique CoS number which is created once an application to sponsor a migrant worker has been agreed following certain criteria e.g. Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), shortage occupation list etc. The CoS will be applied for once a conditional offer of employment has been made to the migrant provided there no suitable EEA/UK worker appointable for the job.   .

The CoS number is given to the migrant, who needs this to make an application for entry clearance or leave to remain.


How long is the CoS valid for?

The CoS is valid for 3 months from approval date to allow time to receive entry clearance.


What are the requirements for a Tier 2 visa?

All applications for Tier 2 visas must be for skilled workers and must meet either the RLMT or be on the shortage occupation.


What is the RLMT?

The resident labour market test (RLMT) is there to protect the settled workforce and means that you must advertise the job you want to recruit for to give settled workers (already resident in the UK and able to work without restrictions) a chance to apply.

You can only recruit a migrant if you have completed a RLMT and can show that no suitable settled worker is available to fill the job, or the job is exempt from the resident labour market test under the shortage occupation list.

A suitable settled worker means any settled worker who has the skills and experience you are seeking. If you find that you have more than one candidate with all the necessary skills and experience you advertised for, where one is a settled worker and the other is a migrant, you MUST appoint the settled worker even if the migrant is more skilled or experienced.

The RLMT is a process that must be followed before you can assign a CoS under Tier 2. There must be no suitable settled worker for the job. If the job is on the shortage occupation list you do not need to conduct the RLMT before applying for a CoS.

You do not have to conduct a RLMT where the total package for the job will be £153,500 or above.


Are there any exemptions to the requirement of the RLMT?

Yes, if the migrant is already working for you and they require an extension to their Tier 2 visa.  They must be continuing in the same immigration category those individuals who require an extension to their Tier 2 visa


What is the Shortage Occupation List?

Shortage occupations are ones where there are not enough settled workers to fill available jobs in particular sectors. The shortage lists are reviewed regularly. You do not have to conduct a RLMT before assigning a Tier 2 (General) Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to fill a job in a shortage occupation. The migrant must work a minimum of 30 hours per week.

The shortage occupation list has been reviewed and some occupations added and some removed. Please refer to the new list from 6th April 2015.


What other UK visas are there?

The five tier system covers most work, study, and investment visas but visitor visas, family visas, and some UK business visas fall outside of the five tiers.

UK Visitor Visas - This section has the information you need to enter the UK as a visitor, whether for business or pleasure  

UK Family Visas - Whether you want to bring your family to the UK, or join a family member already living there, this section covers the main UK visa options for families

UK Business Visas - This section covers a limited number of long term business visas which fall outside of the five tier system


What evidence of entry clearance or leave to remain do you need to see before the migrant commences employment?

Passport, UK Biometric card, NI number, Passport with leaves stamps and entitlement to work for you as the sponsor (must state work permitted) and purple registration card.

Further details and updates on visa regulation can be found on the NHS Employers and Home Office web pages.