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UK Work Visas: Which is best for me?

It can be difficult to navigate the UK immigration system and its hundreds of visas and rules changes. Here is a simple list of three questions to ask yourself that will help you make an informed decision on which work visa will allow you to work in the UK and match with your career plans. We have excluded dependent and spouse visas as their purpose is not mainly for migrants to work.

If you are still unsure of which work visa to go after, do use our free online visa tool. It will provide you with the best visa for you and a to-do list with all the requirements to obtain it.


There are three elements that will determine which UK Work Visa you need and can apply to:

  • The job position you have been offered or the one you aim to get

Some work visas have specific requirements about the skill level you should have to apply for it, as well as the kind of contract you have with your company (internship, part-time or full-time, freelancer). In more details:

If you are looking for a low skilled position in a company or an internship, have a look at the Tier 5 category of visas.

If you are looking for a long term (two years to three years etc) full time work position in the UK, you will have to come through the Tier 2 Category or Tier 1. The choice in between both categories will be depend on the work contract you will be have.

If you are more the freelancer or entrepreneur type, you should look at the Tier 1 category; however, If you are more interested in an employee role in the UK, the Tier 2 category of visas is for you.

  • The length of your stay in the UK; or the time you are planning to stay;

Work visas can be granted for 6 months to 3 years and 4 months. By rule of thumb, the more time you want to spend, the more likely the job position and contract will have to reflect a highly-skilled position and secured full-time contract.

For short time of stay, the most relevant visas lie in the Tier 5 category or just simply come on a Business Visitor visa.

For longer stays, you will probably want to apply for a visa that enables you to stay at least two or three years and that can be renewable. The Tier 2 Category or Tier 1 category are most relevant in that case.

  • Your employer or company’s budget and the hiring process in the next months.

Tier 2 and Tier 5 categories include visas that will require you to be sponsored. Some Tier 5 sponsorship will need your company to be a sponsor or to get an overarching body to sponsor you. This is the case for example with the Tier 5 internship visa that does not need your company to be a sponsor.

For most Tier 2 visas, your company will need to apply for a sponsorship licence and as such sponsor you. Thus, it is not just up to you to get the visa, but up to the company you are working with to decide if they want to sponsor you and can apply to that sponsorship licence. The Tier 2 category is more difficult to get but highly rewarding because it will give you more time in the UK and for position that are at least of managerial level.

Wizard England

If you have more questions, we recommend you use our free visa tool to find out which visa you are eligible to and get a to-do list of documents you will need to apply to the visa. If you have any questions, migreat questions & answer forum is always here to assist you. For free!

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