How To Apply For A Work Visa In The UK

The United Kingdom is an excellent place to live and work, as people there are surrounded by art, nightlife, music, and sports. In what will come as sparkling news to U.S. citizens, U.K. residents get free healthcare, enjoy beautiful views, and can easily access public transportation (via IMG Connect). Living in the U.K. also means living in the spot where every royal-obsessed American would probably sell their soul to be, as you'll have all the best conversations about royal-related matters, such as what the U.K. really thinks about their new king. And who knows, maybe one day, if you move to England, you'll even be lucky enough to run into Meghan Markle when she's back in Britain.

Of course, it sounds so exciting to work in a chic London office, walk to an artsy museum after work, party at a nightclub on Friday night, and take the Eurostar to Paris on the weekend, all without having to worry about healthcare prices. But before you pack your bags and apply to countless jobs in the U.K., you'll need to deal with the logistics — like applying for a work visa. 

Here's how to apply for a long-term work visa

If you're hoping to apply for a work visa in the U.K., you'll need to determine whether you should apply for a long-term or short-term option (via GOV.UK). The categories for long-term work visas include "Skilled Worker visa," "Health and Care Worker visa," "Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)," "Scale-up Worker visa," "Minister of Religion visa (T2)," and "International Sportsperson visa." So, if you plan on working in any of these industries in the U.K., you should opt to apply for a long-term work visa.

While all of these paths fall under the long-term work visa option, the process and requirements for each category can differ, so be sure to read meticulously when you want to apply for your work visa to make sure you're choosing the most relevant option. For instance, if you're applying for a Skilled Worker work visa, your U.K. employer will need the green light from the Home Office, you'll need a "certificate of sponsorship," your occupation must be eligible, and you'll have to meet the minimum income requirement. If you meet these requirements, you should fill out the online application for your work visa. You must have the required documents prepared, too, such as a reference number for your "certificate of sponsorship," proof that you understand the English language, a passport or similar document, and the official title and code for your occupation. Plus, be prepared to pay a fee when applying.

How to apply for a short-term work visa

More categories of professions fall under the short-term work visa category, as people working in these careers will likely not have to stay in the U.K. as long. A few types of work where you can apply for a short-term work visa in the U.K. include a Charity Worker visa, a Creative Worker visa, an International Agreement visa, a Seasonal Worker visa, a Graduate visa, and a High Potential Individual visa, per GOV.UK. It's worth noting that many of these work visas are ultra-specific, so you should be extra careful when reviewing your qualifications for a short-term work visa.

For example, you can apply for the Creative Worker visa if you get a job such as acting, videography, or singing. You'll have to meet a specific set of requirements, get a certificate of sponsorship, have the required amount of money in your bank account, pay the fee to apply, and fill out the application. It's crucial to remember that this type of work visa will only let you stay in the U.K. for up to a year without an extension, so keep that in mind. Meanwhile, if you studied in the U.K., you may be eligible for a Graduate visa while you're still in the country. This visa will allow you to stay in the U.K. for a couple of years or more after finishing your studies, as long as you have the necessary documents.

There are a few other options

While many work visas in the U.K. include long-term and short-term visas, other choices might apply to you, such as the Investor, Business Development, and Talent Visas, per GOV.UK. These options primarily relate to people who work in business. You may want to apply for the Innovator visa choice within this category if you're an entrepreneur and have a unique business idea that you want to launch in the U.K. over the next few years. On the other hand, if you have a leadership position in the research, arts, or digital tech industries, you should look into the Global Talent visa, which can permit you to stay in the U.K. for five years.

Plus, some exceptions can allow you to get a visa, such as the U.K. Ancestry visa, which applies to Commonwealth citizens, British overseas citizens, British overseas territories citizens, British nationals, and Zimbabwe citizens. Or, if you work in a domestic career, such as a maid, butler, cook, or nanny, and hope to stay in the U.K. for six months, you could be eligible for the Overseas Domestic Worker visa.

Whichever type of work visa you apply for, you shouldn't expect it to be an instant, easy process. But with diligent planning, preparation, and attention to detail, you should be able to obtain your work visa, which could help make your international dream come true!