General Information

Sometimes immigration rules can be a complicated matter. Here you will find a general overview of what kind of visa will allow you to work in the UK (the application formalities and eligibility requirements in respect of which vary considerably).

European Community

Currently all Swiss nationals and citizens of the member countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) have free access to enter the UK, work and study. Other nationalities need a visa to work in the UK.


A visa (sometimes referred to as entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain), is a document (in the form of a vignette or Biometric Residence Permit) issued by a country giving an individual permission for entry or leave to remain in that country during a given period of time and for certain purposes (such as tourism, study, work, to join family members etc). Whether or not a visa is required depends on the purpose and proposed length of your stay, as well as your nationality. The UK Visas & Immigration website will tell you whether a visa is required to enter the UK and, if so, how to apply for one. To check if you need a Visa go to:

Permission to work in the UK

The most common ‘route’ for non-resident skilled workers seeking entrance or leave to remain in the UK is under Tier 2 of the points based system. Before you can apply for permission to work under Tier 2 of the points based system, a UK based employer must agree to sponsor you and issue you with a work authorisation ‘document’ known as a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). Certificates of Sponsorship must be issued to a specific, skilled person to undertake a particular job for a specific employer. Depending on the business, role, salary and ultimate intention of the prospective migrant (i.e. whether they intend to remain in the UK indefinitely) the ‘sponsor’ may need to advertise the position to the local workforce (a process known as the Resident Labour Market Test) prior to issuing the CoS. It is sometimes possible (depending on the specific visa type) to move to a new role or employer once in the UK although this usually necessitates another Resident Labour Market Test and always involves a new application to the Home Office for permission to remain in the UK in the new role.

Other schemes

There are different routes available for people wishing to live (and work) in the UK. Some other visa types which permit work in the UK are mentioned below. For other schemes and more detailed information check the UK Visas & Immigration website.

Partner Visa

If you can prove that you are married or in a relationship akin to marriage (which usually involves evidencing at least two years’ prior cohabitation) with a Tier 2 migrant, you may be able to join them (and work) in the UK for the duration of their visa.

Partner of a British Citizen or someone present and settled in the UK: If you can prove that you are married or in a relationship akin to marriage (which usually involves evidencing at least two years’ prior cohabitation) to a British Citizen you may be able to join them in the UK if you can meet a specific (and relatively significant) minimum financial requirement.

Student Visa

Some students are permitted to work (up to a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time although sometimes fewer hours). Specific restrictions on working hours will normally be printed on your visa.

People living and working in the UK for five continuous years may be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain or (in respect of EEA Nationals and their family members) may have acquired Permanent Residence. Contact UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) to understand your rights and to apply to settle/evidence permanent residence status in the UK.

After 12 months of holding Indefinite Leave to Remain/ acquiring permanent residence you may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship (subject to satisfying all other current applicable eligibility requirements). The position of children born in the UK depends on the status of their parent(s) at that point (some children will be British automatically whereas others may acquire the right subsequently to register as British). British Nationality Law is complicated and advice should be sought by reference to specific circumstances.

Check the Home Office website for further details:

This section has been contributed by SA Law –