What do I need to be able to work in the UK?

If you are a non EEA worker with no UK immigration entitlement through, for instance, marriage, ancestry or under the auspices of Tier 1 General, you will most probably need a work permit to work in the UK whether in an employed or self-employed capacity.

The 3 main types of UK work permits are:

  • Tier 2 General and Intra Company Transfer
  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur
  • Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme and Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange Scheme

Tier 2 permits are aimed at skilled workers sponsored by UK employers.  
There are two types of Tier 2 permits:

  • Tier 2 General for new / permanent recruits
  • Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer for international internal transfers.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur permits are geared towards business persons, who wish to establish a business in the UK or join and invest into an existing business.  A minimum investment of between £50,000 to £200,00 is required. Tier 1 Entrepreneur permit holders are only allowed to work for the business they have established or joined in the UK.

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Permits are aimed at young people from participating countries (Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Taiwan) wishing to experience life in the UK for up to 2 years.  Applicants are sponsored by their countries rather than by a UK employer. Tier 5 YMP holders are free to do whatever work they like whilst in the UK. They may also study if they wish, but this should not be the main purpose of their stay.

Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange permits are for people coming to the UK through UK Government approved schemes that aim to share knowledge, experience and best practice, and to experience the social and cultural life of the UK.  The sponsor will be a government approved overarching body rather than an employer. The work carried out must be skilled which means in most cases it must be equivalent to NVQ or SVQ level 3 or above.  Tier 5 GAEP holders are allowed to stay in the UK for up to 12 or 24 months, depending on the scheme used and the length of time of the work to be carried out.

In general terms the Tier 5 route is aimed at people coming to the UK for a given period of time with no intention to remain indefinitely.

Further information on other Tier 5 permits can be found at:

                    Tier 5 (Temporary worker – creative and sporting)

                    Tier 5 (Temporary worker – charity workers)

                    Tier 5 (Temporary worker – religious workers)

                    Tier 5 (Temporary worker – international agreement)