Business Immigration Law Archives - MLP Law

Do I need a visa to work in the UK?

Prior to starting a job in the UK, an employer must check that you have the right to work in the UK. You will have the right to work in the UK if you are a British Citizen, an EEA citizen, or someone who is “settled” in the UK having indefinite leave to remain. In other circumstances, you will need to hold a visa that allows you to work.

What visa allows full time, permanent work in the UK?

The main visa specifically for work in the UK is Tier 2. This visa is available for individuals who are being employed by an employer who holds a sponsor licence in a job at or above a specific skill level. Appendix J to the Immigration Rules sets out what jobs will be considered skilled enough for this visa.

If an employer wishes to sponsor someone, they will also have to pay at least the minimum salary set by the Government, which can vary role to role. In many cases where recruiting someone from abroad the employer will have to have first advertised the role in the UK to show no settled worker can do it. The advert must run for at least 28 days and there are requirements on the employer to keep copies of the advert and all recruitment documents.

Currently, it is difficult to obtain a Tier 2 general visa if you are outside the UK. That’s because the number of places for new entrants on this visa is restricted. For individuals looking to come to the UK on a Tier 2 visa, the employer must request a restricted certificate of sponsorship from the Home Office. These are allocated on a monthly basis, with jobs which are difficult to fill or those which are highly paid taking priority.

When an employer has been granted a restricted certificate of sponsorship, it will then allocate that to the individual and this is what then enables the individual to meet the points requirement for a Tier 2 visa. Other points must be gained from having adequate maintenance and being able to prove an acceptable level of English language skills.

Do any other visas allow work in the UK?

Aside from the Tier 2 route, there are other visas which allow work in the UK but generally either the grounds for obtaining these visas is limited, or the work scope itself is limited.

Tier 2 Intra-Company transfer is a slightly easier route for individuals who are working for a company abroad which also has a UK office. However, this route has a higher minimum salary threshold and cannot lead to settlement in the UK.

Students on Tier 4 visas can normally work for 20 hours term time and full time during vacation periods but they should not fill permanent vacancies.

Tier 5 is an option for individuals looking to come to the UK for a short period of work, usually as a internship. This route can allow someone to work for a year, or two years in some instances. Generally, the routes under Tier 5 require a sponsor, or are for people between 18 and 30 who hold certain nationalities.

Individuals who hold a Tier 1 exceptional talent visa are allowed to work freely in the UK but the bar for this visa is high and requires the individual to be a world leader, or future world leader, in one of a number of specified fields, including the arts, sciences, and digital technology.

If you want more information about the contents of this blog, please contact our business immigration specialist Charlotte Ashton 0161 926 1592 or email

EEA-workers in the UK labour market: Interim Update

In July 2017 the Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) was commissioned by the Home Secretary to report on the current and likely future patterns of EEA migration, and the impacts of that migration on the UK. The intention of such a report was to establish an evidence base to shape the new migration system that is expected to come into force at the end of the implementation period in 2021.

We have provided a summary of the recent interim update that addresses the responses of calls for evidence from employers and regions:

Why do businesses employ EEA workers?

  • Employers responded that they aren’t deliberately filling vacancies with EEA workers, it is normally that they are simply the best, or most qualified, for the job.
  • Specific examples of why EEA workers may be the best candidates included that they have the necessary skills and they are willing to do jobs in more difficult conditions.
  • Many employers think EEA workers are more motivated and flexible – examples include they are willing to work longer hours or night shifts.
  • Some employers in lower-skilled sectors feel they have an image problem for UK-born workers such as lower wages.
  • Low unemployment rates in the UK have led employers to look to EEA workers to fill vacancies.
  • Wages were not mentioned often as a deciding factor for employing EEA workers, and employers do not think of themselves as employing EEA workers because they are cheaper to employ.

What is the attitude of possible restrictions on the flow of EEA migrants?

  • Employers are concerned about the possible restrictions and what the future of migration might be.
  • The MAC highlighted that employer’s opinions are important but won’t be the only thing considered in their analysis.

What are employer’s views on the impacts of restrictions on hiring EEA migrants?

  • Employers explained they would devise strategies to mitigate the impact of possible restrictions.
  • An example would be training UK-born workers to fill skills shortages. However, this may have limited impact for jobs that require a few years training to be able to do.
  • It is not clear how effective these would be as we do not know what the restrictions will be.

Are employers producing contingency plans?

  • Many employers’ business models are based on EEA migrant labour being readily available, so these will be problematic if there are significant restrictions.
  • Businesses do not seem well-prepared to deal with a changing and tighter labour market where they may be competing much more intensely for labour.

What are the regional themes?

  • If EEA migration was 0, the population of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would stop growing, and even fall in the next 20 years.
  • EEA migrants also contribute to slowing the ageing of the population, so if this was reduced then the dependency ratio would increase, (but it should also be noted that they themselves also contribute to this when they cease working).
  • The Scottish Government argue that areas with high population outflow should be combatted with higher immigration levels.
  • The conclusion is that what is best for an individual employer is not necessarily best for the welfare of the resident population.

To read more on the MAC’s comments on particular sectors, please click here.

We will keep you updated on any further developments.

If you are concerned about any issues raised in this blog, please contact our business immigration specialist Charlotte Ashton 0161 926 1592 or email

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @HRGuruUK for important employment, HR and business immigration updates.


What visa do I need for the UK?


Who needs a visa for the UK?

British citizens, Commonwealth citizens with a right of abode, and EU/EEA/Swiss citizens are all entitled to enter the UK without the need for a visa. All other citizens must obtain leave to enter the UK from an immigration officer. Depending on what country you are from, this will either require a visa obtained prior to travelling to the UK, or obtaining leave to enter as a visitor on arrival in the UK.

If you want to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months, you must obtain the appropriate visa for your circumstances prior to travelling to the UK.

What types of visa are there?

For a short trip to the UK, a visit visa is likely to be the most appropriate. This allows a stay of up to 6 months, with limits on what the individual can do whilst in the UK. There are four types of visit visa; standard visit visa, marriage/civil partnership visa, Permitted Paid Engagements visa, and transit visit visa.

For a longer stay in the UK, an individual will need to obtain a visa specific to their circumstances. This could be on the basis of investing in business in the UK, working, studying, or living with a family member who has the right to remain in the UK. For Commonwealth citizens, an ancestry visa might be an option if a grandparent was born in the UK.

Points Based System

Where an individual wishes to come to the UK to invest in a business, work, or study, it is likely that they will need to obtain a visa under the Points Based System. This system has five “Tiers” and an applicant needs to pick which is most appropriate for their circumstances.

The five tiers are:

  • Tier 1 – for investors, entrepreneurs, and exceptionally talented individuals
  • Tier 2 – for skilled workers
  • Tier 3 – was for low skilled workers but has never been opened
  • Tier 4 – for students
  • Tier 5 – for temporary workers, or young people coming to the UK on working holidays.

Each Tier, and the sub-categories of visa, has its own requirements for scoring points in order for an individual to apply for that visa. These tend to require evidence of why the person will be in the UK, evidence of funds to maintain themselves, and evidence of English language ability.

The length of time a person can stay in the UK differs according to which visa is obtained, and some visas can lead to indefinite leave to remain after 5 years (or, in rare circumstances, a shorter time).

How we can help

Each visa has its own requirements and conditions and it can be tricky to know the most appropriate for your circumstances. It can also be difficult to understand how to ensure you remain within the confines of the visa once in the UK.

Our business immigration experts are able to advise on what visa is most appropriate for your circumstances, and guide you through the notoriously tricky applications process. To arrange an initial meeting with one of our advisers please contact Alternatively, please call 0161 926 1592.

Don’t forget to also follow us on twitter for important employment and immigration law updates @HRGuruUK.

Twitter Q&A

For the last two weeks, our MLP business immigration specialist has taken part in a weekly Twitter Q&A session hosted by @T2VisaJobs on a Thursday.

Aimed at international students and graduates, the sessions allowed/allow participants to ask questions about how the visa system works when individuals want to stay in the UK, to work, after graduation.

The round-up of the two Q&A sessions can be found here: and here:

The main theme from the sessions appears to be that there is still a lot of confusion around what routes are available, and how they operate.

So, what can you do?…

When considering options for the end of a Tier 4 visa, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I switch in-country into the new category?
  • Do I have to meet a minimum salary threshold?
  • Will my sponsor be an employer or a third party?
  • How long do I want to stay in the UK?
  • Will the new visa allow me to switch into another route at any point?

Knowing the different rules for each visa type can be tricky, as can weighing these up against personal circumstances – that’s where speaking to an expert can help you to get it right. By discussing your own personal circumstances with someone who understands the system, you can really hone down your options and spend your time more efficiently, allowing you to follow the path that suits you best, without going off track.

If your preferred option is a Tier 2 visa, you should follow @T2VisaJobs to stay alerted to the latest openings with sponsors. Another tip is to look at the register of sponsors to see if there are any employers local to you that already hold a licence. The list is updated regularly and is available here:

Using the time allowed for work on your Tier 4 visa can also be extremely helpful in gaining work experience and building a network of contacts who may be able to help you or employ you, later on.

How Can we help?

At MLP we offer an initial 1-hour consultation to help you understand your options and plan for the future in the best way you can. We can offer this at a discounted rate compared to our usual hourly rates and, should you need any further assistance, we can provide you with quotes for advice that is tailored to your individual needs.

If you would like any further information please contact Charlotte Ashton, Head of Business Immigration at MLP Law –

Top 7 tips for international students wanting to work in the UK

Many international students at UK universities will be keen to continue their lives in the city or town in which they have spent years studying. The UK’s visa system can be strict and difficult to navigate, which is not helped by the fact it is politically charged.

Students who are keen to remain in the UK should familiarise themselves with the various visa options early, rather than focus on job hunting once their studies are over. One way of acquiring a visa for working in the UK is switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2. It is necessary to be aware that there is more than one type of visa that could be suitable for your purposes however, this blog focuses on Tier 4 graduates switching to Tier 2 from inside the UK.

1. Do your research on the Points Based System – for a Tier 2 visa you need to score 70 points through the following:
  • Certificate of Sponsorship – 30
  • Salary – 20
  • English Language – 10
  • Maintenance – 10

You should make sure you understand how you score the points in each category so you can make sure you are prepared when the time comes to make an application.

2. Know the employers who are already able to sponsor Tier 2 workers

All employers who hold a Tier 2 sponsor licence are on the Government’s register here:
You could search the document for a specific employer or search for a specific location and see what companies in that area are sponsors.

3. Understand the requirements for a Certificate of Sponsorship

An employer can only assign a certificate of sponsorship where the job on offer is considered skilled enough and will be paid at, or above the minimum salary set by the Government. To check if your desired job will be skilled enough you should review Appendix J; jobs at RQF level 6 or above are the only ones which can be sponsored for Tier 2. The stipulated minimum salary is at least £20,800 for students switching to a Tier 2 visa, but you should check the thresholds for the job in question as this may be higher. You can familiarise yourself with the job descriptions and salaries here:

4. Consider sectors which regularly hire international graduates:

The most common professions for Tier 2 jobs after graduation are:

  • Accounting, Consulting & Professional Services
  • Banking, Finance & Insurance
  • Engineering & Tech
  • Info & Communications
  • Healthcare
  • Professional, Scientific & Technical
  • Education
5. Weigh up your route to work options:

1) Graduate schemes
Pros: Run by large organisations likely to be on the sponsor register and likely to be accommodating to Tier 2 applicants.
Cons: Competitive process with early deadlines.

2) Individual graduate level roles
Pros: Greater flexibility.
Cons: Less likely to have a certificate of sponsorship, may be more hesitant to apply to be on the register, don’t hire many graduates each year and may not provide a minimum salary suitable for Tier 2.

6. Use your Tier 4 visa for work to gain experience during your studies

Generally, Tier 4 students are allowed to work 20 hours a week during term time and full time during vacation periods. You can therefore use this time to do part time work with employers to gain experience and build relationships with managers who are responsible for graduate recruitment.

7. Be aware of the alternative options:

If you are a budding entrepreneur or merely looking for temporary work within the UK then Tier 1 or Tier 5 could be a more appropriate visa option. Tier 1 visa categories are for individuals who are setting up a business or investing in the UK, or individuals who are exceptionally talented. Tier 5 categories are for short term work placements for 1 or 2 years, predominantly to gain work experience.

Given Brexit, the future of the Points Based System is uncertain however, at least for now, Tier 2 provides a valuable route for international students accessing employment in the UK.
If you want more information about the contents of this blog, please contact our business immigration specialist Charlotte Ashton 0161 926 1592 or email