We appreciate that navigating the UK's visas can be complicated and difficult to follow. So, we've made this handy guide to support you through securing your visa, whether you're an international student or just looking to work in the UK.
Rundown of UK visas
Whilst there are plenty more visas which you may be eligible for (explore all the UK's visas), here are the most common visa types:
Student visas (or Tier 4 visas) are specifically for when you're completing a course in the UK. This gives you the right to study in the UK, typically an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. To be eligible for the student visa, your course must be run by one of these organisations, you should have enough money to support yourself and you should speak, write and read in English.
A student visa often comes with some restrictions on the hours you can work while you study, so make sure you know the limitations before applying for any jobs.
Once you've completed a course in the UK with a student (Tier 4) visa, you can apply for a graduate visa. This visa allows you to stay in the UK and work for 2 years (3 years if you studied a PhD).
Skilled worker visas
Once your graduate visa expires, you can apply for a skilled worker visa (formerly known as a Tier 2). This gives you the right to work in the UK for up to 5 years. After that, you can either apply to extend your skilled worker visa for another 5 years, or you can apply for indefinite leave to stay.
This gives you the permanent right to remain in the UK, known as indefinite leave or permanent settlement. To be eligible, you must have lived and worked in the UK for at least 5 years. There are also salary and job requirements which depend on your individual circumstances, so be sure to check the government website to understand your situation and eligibility.
How much will it cost?
The cost of applying for a visa depends on which one you're applying to. This can vary from around £500 to £2,000+. Check the government's website for the cost of each visa.
Will an employer sponsor a visa for me?
When looking into visa sponsorship, it's important to take into consideration the following: organisations often have a significant number of applications for each role they advertise, many of which are equally as skilled and well-qualified as you. However, it’s by no means impossible to obtain sponsorship! Here is some advice that we have for securing yourself sponsorship:
- Check the company's website to make sure they sponsor visas. Some companies are not willing to offer sponsorship and will state that you need the 'right to work in the UK' before applying.
- Make your application fantastic. Not only are you selling yourself as a great candidate for the role, you have to prove you're better than the candidates who don't need visa sponsorship. Complete our Application Processes course to help make your application stand out.
- Apply to big companies. It's more likely that bigger organisations will have the budget to sponsor visas than smaller organisations and will be more open to looking into your individual case. Whilst some smaller organisations will do this too, the bigger ones are often a better bet.
- Know the facts. Some organisations pay for your visa then you repay the cost through your wage. Check what the organisation's policy is and the commitments you're signing up to before agreeing to work for them.
Correct information as of September 2022. Although we update our information as frequently as possible, advice on visas is subject to change. Please always check the UK Government website for the most up-to-date information on visas.