UK Visa Types – UK Immigration [2024]

man waiting on flight to UK with plane in background - UK Visa Types

If you are planning on moving to the United Kingdom for long term work or to complete a degree, then you will need a visa before you arrive. There are many UK visa types that allow you to work and study, some do not require any sponsorship. Each visa has different requirements in order for you to be eligible. Many of the work visas allow you to settle in the UK after five years, the first step towards citizenship.

UK Immigration Visa Types

UK Work Visa

If you are planning to live and work in the UK for a few years, then you will need a work visa. Most work UK visa types will count towards Indefinite Leave to Remain, if your ultimate goal to settle here.

The Skilled Worker Visa UK allows you to live and work in the UK for up to five years. You must be eligible by securing a job on the Skilled Worker Occupations List and finding an employer to sponsor you. You will need to earn a salary of at least £38,700 from April 2024 to qualify for this visa. After five years you can apply to settle in the UK or apply again for this visa.

The Health and Care Worker UK visa is the most popular work visa in the United Kingdom. This visa allows healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses and care workers to work in the UK. The advantage of this visa over the Skilled Worker visa is the minimum salary will remain £26,200. You will also be exempt from paying for the Immigration Health Surcharge. To be eligible the occupation must be listed on the Health and Care Worker Occupations List

The High Potential Individual Visa UK allows graduates from selected international universities to work in the UK for up to three years. You must have graduated from an eligible university within the last five years. You must have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree, Postgraduate or PHD. You can check if your qualification is eligible through Ecctis.

The Graduate Visa UK is a popular visa with recent graduates within the UK. It allows students to stay in the UK after their studies for up to three years. It is sometimes referred to as a Post-Study Work visa or PSW UK visa. You do not need to be sponsored by an employer on this visa, this makes it a popular gateway to other visas such as Skilled Worker or Health and Care Worker.

The Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility) is an easy way of moving to the UK if you have an employer who has a branch in this country. The job offer must be on the Global Business Mobility List and you must meet the minimum salary threshold. You must have worked for your employer for at least a year and have proof of sponsorship.

The Scale-Up Visa UK is an ideal work visa for skilled workers or recent graduates looking to join a fast growing British company. You must meet the minimum salary threshold and be offered a job role on the Scale-Up Occupations List.  You can switch from this job role after 6 months and switch to an unsponsored job role.

The Youth Mobility Visa UK is a working holiday visa that allows young people aged between 18-35 to live and work in the UK for up to three years. You must be from an eligible country and can only enter the UK on this visa once. You can work without job sponsorship and is a good pathway to switch to a longer term visa such as the Skilled Worker.

The India Young Professionals Scheme is a great way for young Indian graduates to live and work in the UK for up to two years. You must have a graduate degree and apply through a ballot. In 2023, there were 3000 places available in which all were taken. You do not need to be sponsored by an employer or meet a minimum salary threshold.

United Kingdom Study Visa

The UK has been a popular destination for international students for decades. In 2023, 457,673 students successfully moved to the UK for their studies.

The Student Visa UK is the main route for people looking to further their education in the United Kingdom. You must be at least 16 years old and apply for an approved course with an approved college or university. You must pass an IELTS test to prove a minimum standard of English and the visa lasts as long as the course, usually up to five years.

The Child Student Visa UK is pathway for children to obtain a high class education. The child must be aged between 4 and 17 years old and study an approved school. There must be proof that the child will be supported financially.

The Study English Visa is a good opportunity for people to learn or improve their English language skills at an approved UK college. It allows you to stay in the UK for up to 11 months although you can’t work on this visa to support yourself.

Business Visa UK

The Innovator Founder Visa UK is a route for international entrepreneurs to build a company in the UK. The visa allows you to stay in the UK for three years to help boost the British economy. There is no minimum investment required but you will have to be approved by an endorsing body. This visa counts towards settlement in the United Kingdom and dependants can study in the UK throughout the visa.

British Family Visa

If you are looking to bring your family to the UK with you they are known as dependants.

The Family Visa can include partner, spouse, fiancé, parent or a carer.

If you are from the Commonwealth or Hong Kong, you may be able to apply for the below visas through family connections.

The Ancestry Visa UK is a popular way of moving to the UK if you have at least one grandparent born in the United Kingdom. You must be a Commonwealth citizen but if you are eligible you can work and study in the UK without sponsorship. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to five years. After which, you can apply for the visa again or apply to settle here.

The British National Overseas Visa is a route for Hong Kong citizens to emigrate to the UK. You do not need sponsorship but you must be a citizen of Hong Kong before July 1997 and have a permanent home in Hong Kong at the time of applying. There is no minimum salary threshold and you can study throughout this visa. The visa allows you to stay for up to five years after which, you can apply to settle in the United Kingdom.

UK Permanent Residence

There are three main steps that are required in order to become a citizen of the United Kingdom.

  • Live and Work in the UK for five years on a work visa
  • Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
  • Apply for Naturalisation/British citizenship

You must live and work in the UK on an eligible work visa for at least five years. After this you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of permanent residence that allows you to remain in the UK with no restrictions imposed like work visas do. You can work in any job on any salary, use the NHS for free and study with no limitations.

To become a citizen you must have lived in the UK under Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least 12 months.

United Kingdom Work Visa Requirements

There are different requirements and documentation for each work visa. Your personal circumstances will also determine if you are eligible and what evidence you need to gather. Check out each visa in more detail on our work visas page.

In general, before you arrive you will need a valid passport and enough money to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge and any tests such as IELTS.

Some visas require a Certificate of Sponsorship or to provide a birth certificate to prove your place of birth.

UK Student Visa Requirements

The Student Visa UK requires you to be at least 16 years old and accepted on to an approved course by an eligible college or university. You must also prove you can support yourself financially for the duration and pass an IELTS test to a minimum standard. The visa lasts as long as the course, usually up to five years.

You must make sure you receive a Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) from your education provider, to apply for this visa.

UK Immigration Visa Processing Time

The application for your visa will begin when you confirm your identity either in person or online. You might have to attend your appointment in person at a visa application centre where your biometrics will be taken including fingerprints and a photograph.

Most work visas and the student visa will take at least 3 weeks to process.

The process can take longer if your first submission did not include all the information that is needed. Additional time is also inevitable if your have had past criminal convictions or if more documentation is required,

To learn more and in detail, check our our article on UK Visa Processing Times.

UK Visa Types Fees

Depending on the UK visa type you have chosen and personal circumstances, the price will vary for each applicant. Each visa has a different application fee, you also have to factor in any dependants, length of stay and if you are switching from another visa type.

Other costs to factor in could be the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Most work and student visas will require this charge which is £1,035 per year for work visas and £776 per year for the student visa. The Youth Mobility Visa UK is also £776 whilst the Health and Care Worker visa holders are exempt from this charge.

How to apply for work permit in UK

The application process for a UK visa begins when you confirm your identity. This can either be online using the ID Check application or you might have to attend your appointment in person. This is done at a visa application centre where your biometrics will be taken including fingerprints and a photograph. You can apply through the gov.uk website, for example the Skilled Worker visa.

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