Work Permits

Who needs a work permit and how to apply for them

Work Permits

In order to hire a non-EU citizen and obtain a work permit, a company must demonstrate that he or she has a certain set of required skills and they do not have EU candidates for the position.

It is not impossible to satisfy these conditions, but some smaller firms are simply not willing to make the effort as they are typically not short of candidates and the approval process can take 4-6 months. For senior management, IT professionals and other highly qualified positions, the conditions are much easier to fulfil and an application properly handled with the sponsorship of the employer can be processed quicker.

What is a work permit?

Work permits are issued to a specific person for a specific job. They are used to enable British employers to recruit workers from outside the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) whilst also protecting the interests of resident workers in the UK.

Do I need a work permit?

As a massive simplification, unless you are an EU/EEA or Swiss national if you intend to work in the UK you will probably need a work permit. The exceptions to this rule are extremely diverse (e.g. artists, innovators, religious ministers and au pairs are all exempt from requiring a work permit). If you think you may be in ‘permit-free’ category, it is worth looking at the detailed list from .

How to apply for a work permit?

A UK employer wishing to employ someone needs to apply for the work permit. Applications are dealt with by the Home Office, which is the British government department responsible for their issue. It is recommended that the employer applies at least eight weeks ahead of the date from which the employee is required to start work. Supporting documentation will be required, such as evidence of the candidate’s relevant qualifications and experience for the job.

Am I an EEA national?

The following countries are members of the European Economic Area:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

What is the Worker Registration Scheme?

You will need to register under the Worker Registration Scheme if you are working in the UK and you are a national of: CzechRepublic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, or Slovenia.

If you are on the Worker Registration Scheme you will need to complete 12 months continuous employment in the UK before you have full rights of free movement. After these 12 months you can then apply for a residence permit to confirm your status.

You can find more information about the Worker Registration Scheme on the Working in the UK  website.

Further reading

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