If you’ve not worked in the UK before, or want to find out if you’re even able to, it can be hard to find the answers. Even if the job you’re applying for is based in a ski resort in the Alps, a palace in the Middle East or a Private Household in Europe, you still may need UK immigration to give you the right to work here because as a UK-based recruitment agency the majority of our clients are also based here and so employ their staff on UK contracts and second them overseas on UK work permits.

So, here’s a simple guide to working in the UK and the answers to some of the most frequently asked UK visa application related questions:

Am I eligible to work in the UK?

You are eligible to work in the UK, and therefore don’t need to obtain a work permit, if any of the following apply:

– You are a British citizen

– You are from a European Economic Area (EEA) – see list below

– or, you are a Swiss national

EEA countries are: 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 UK.

Nationals of certain countries, such as Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria, may require special permission to work in the United Kingdom, even as temporary workers.

For more information about EU, EEA and Commonwealth citizens, and rights to working in the UK, visit: www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/eu-eea-commonwealth

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What if I don’t have the right to work in the UK?

If one of the above does not apply to you then you will need to obtain a visa and/or work permit before finding employment in the UK.


If you’re not a British citizen, EEA citizen or Swiss national, you may need to apply for a visa in order to be able to work in the UK. You should be able to apply for a visitor visa via a British Overseas Mission in your own country, or the British Embassy.

For more information on visa requirements specific to your own country, visit: www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations

For a full list of the visas available to you, and to check if you need a UK visa, visit: www.gov.uk/visas-immigration


Permit required? Having a visa doesn’t necessarily mean you are automatically able to work in the UK, and you may also need a work permit in order to begin working.

Work Permits

If you’ve already found a job in the UK and been accepted to work, or you have a visa, but it prohibits you from working, you may need to obtain a work permit.

You cannot apply for a work permit directly, your employer in the UK will need to apply on your behalf. As an agency we are not able to do this for you and we cannot put you forward for jobs without this already having been done. The length of your permit will depend on the type of work you do, and the sort of permit granted.

Do I need to be sponsored to apply for a visa?

In order to apply for most work visas, you’ll usually need to gain a job offer with employer sponsorship in the UK first and show your certificates of sponsorship when applying.

However, you can apply for a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa without sponsorship if you:

– Want to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years

– Are 18 to 30 years old

– Have £1,890 in savings

– Have certain types of British Nationality or are from certain countries

– Or, meet the other eligibility requirements

What is a National Insurance Number and why do I need one?

Your National Insurance Number is a code unique to you which is made up of letters and numbers and never changes.

Everyone wanting to work in the UK needs a NI number, even UK citizens. EU nationals, as well as anyone else that’s granted a UK work visa, will need to apply for a National Insurance number before being allowed to work.

Your National Insurance number is used by your employee and the HMRC to make sure your National Insurance contributions and tax are recorded against your name only.

You can apply for a National Insurance number if you do not have one, or find your National Insurance number if you’ve lost it.

Mansion manor house with green landscaped lawn in front

Can I get an Ancestry Visa?

If you’re looking at coming to the UK and have family from here, then another option could be an ancestry visa.

You can apply for a UK Ancestry visa if you:

– are a Commonwealth citizen

– are applying from outside the UK

– are able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK

– are able and planning to work in the UK

– meet the other eligibility requirements


The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel, and you should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK. You can also check the guide processing times for details on how long getting a visa may take in your country.

The ancestry visa allows you to stay in the UK for 5 years and then you may apply to extend your visa or apply to settle in the UK permanently.


Due to the EU referendum, if the United Kingdom leaves the EU then some of this information may change. Please check the below link for full immigration advice on the application process and the types of visa or residence card you may need if moving to the UK and how this may affect your visa application.

This information is only a guide and full, comprehensive details about UK visas and immigration, and jobs and employment can be found on the UK Government website – www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration

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