Looking for IT jobs in the UK ? A guide to getting a UK Visa

If you are outside of the EEA, you will need a visa to work in the UK’s technology and IT sector. For the time being, EU nationals can apply for jobs in the UK without needing a visa, however, this could change following the negotiated outcomes of Brexit.

Your individual circumstances will determine which visa best suits you. There are many categories ranging from Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas, each of which has a set list of different requirements and are subdivided into specific groups.

It is best you contact a UK immigration lawyer who can assist you with your application process. The following is intended as a basic guide for hopeful international candidates looking for IT jobs in the UK.

Tier 2 (General) Work Visa

The Tier 2 Work Visa is the most popular working visa route to the UK. If you are an IT worker with a specific skill set or qualification, you might be eligible for this visa type.

The Tier 2 (General) Work Visa requirements are:

  • You must provide a Certificate of Sponsorship (providing 50 points of the Points Based System) from your English employer
  • You must pass an English Language test (providing the remaining 20 points of the Points Based System)
  • You must provide evidence of your salary and maintenance funds for your time in the UK

In order to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), your employer must be a legally registered and recognised company in the UK who can hire foreign workers. Only if they have a Sponsorship Licence can they issue you a CoS, so it is important that you seek advice from a lawyer who can check for you.

On this visa type, you can:

  • Live and work in the UK for 5 years
  • Work in a second job (in certain circumstances)
  • Study a course so long as it doesn’t affect your sponsored employment
  • Travel so long as you return to the UK
  • Bring immediate family members with you (such as your spouse and children)

However, you will not get access to public funding such as benefits, social housing or free healthcare.

Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Visa

Alternatively, you can apply for a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa if you are already employed by a multinational IT or technology company in your home country. If you are being transferred overseas to a UK branch, either short-term or long-term, this visa could be the best option for you.

To be eligible for a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Visa you must:

  • Be employed by an international company in your home country or;
  • Be a graduate trainee under a training programme that offers progression in your IT career
  • Offer a skills transfer in which the UK employer can learn from your expertise

You also need to pass 60 points of the Points Based System. Along with your Certificate of Sponsorship (equating to 30 points), you must also provide evidence of an appropriate salary, making up another 20 points:

  • For ‘Long-term staff’ your minimum salary must be £41,500
  • For a ‘Graduate Trainee’ your minimum salary must be £23,000

You must also provide evidence of your savings and maintenance costs while in the UK, which equates to the final 10 points.

How long you stay in the UK on this visa type depends upon the subcategory of your Intra-Company Transfer Visa. Your employer might provide a date or time on your Certificate. However, you should seek advice from a lawyer as you can extend this visa to last up to 9 years or 5 years. If you are a ‘Graduate Trainee’ you normally will only be permitted into the UK for 12 months.

Tier 1 Investor Visa

If you are a high net-worth worker in the technology or IT sector, you could come to the UK to invest in a business on a Tier 1 Investor Visa type.

Unlike other visa categories, you do not need a Certificate of Sponsorship or a job offer from an employer. You also don’t need to pass the English Language test nor provide evidence of your maintenance funds.

However, while the rules and regulations for this visa are significantly relaxed in comparison, you must have at least £2 million of savings that you would be willing to invest in the UK’s economy.

Tier 5 Temporary Worker Visa

Tier 5 Visas offer a variety of subcategories for people seeking work in the UK for under 12 months. Normally, this visa type is outlined for those who want to work in a role such as entertainer, diplomat, sportsperson, charity worker or artist.

However, there is also a Tier 5 Temporary Worker Visa under the Government Authorised Exchange category. Through this, companies can offer schemes to international talent and a lot of internships in the IT and technology sector are advertised here. Each company has their own terms and conditions (such as length of stay and type of scheme i.e. Paid or voluntary) so it is best you check the list before going down this visa route.

Normally, this Visa is for short time work experience in the UK such as training, an Overseas Government Language Programme, or research. Similar to the other work categories, you must provide a Certificate of Sponsorship from your UK employer and have £945 in savings.

The benefits of this category are that you can switch, for example, to a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa should the government determine your body of work to be highly valuable to the UK.

In order to maximise your success in a working visa, it is best you seek expert advice from the leading immigration advice from one of IAS’s Immigration Lawyers London. At IAS, the lawyers can:

  • Communicate with the UK’s Home Office regarding your application on your behalf
  • Ensure your documents are to the highest standard and is backed with sufficient evidence
  • Communicate with your UK Employer and Sponsor should you require a Certificate of Sponsorship
  • Assist you with the bulk of the paperwork and help you at every step of the way

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