Every year, over 35,000 people from destinations like Australia, South Africa, Canada, and New Zealand decide to spend time living and working in the UK. Spending time in a different environment is a great way to discover new things, gain work experience, embrace new cultures, and broaden your horizons. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as saying goodbye and boarding a plane to Heathrow.
How do I get there?
If you are one of the lucky few who already have an EU passport, this article is not for you. Passengers with a European passport can work in the UK and anywhere in the European Union. If you do not have a European passport, read on. A wide range of immigration visas and residence and work permits are available in the UK to help fulfill your dream of living and working in the UK. These options can lead to permanent residence, British citizenship, and a British passport.
Work permit system
The UK Work Permits Scheme is an employer and job-specific scheme designed for professionals or managers who will bring value and skills to the UK labor market. The main objective of these visas is to assist companies in their international development and to employ critical employees who do not have the required employment status in the UK. If you have a job offer from an employer based in the United Kingdom and have met specific criteria, you may be able to apply for a work permit. A work permit can be issued for up to five years. After completing four years with a work permit, a pregnant woman can apply for residency/leave for an indefinite period in the United Kingdom.
Highly Skilled Immigrants Program (HSMP)
HSMP is designed to allow highly qualified people to immigrate to the United Kingdom in search of employment or self-employment opportunities. The highly skilled immigrant program differs from the work permit program because you do not need a specific job offer in the UK to apply. This point-based program works from points gained in five main areas: academic qualifications/work experience / previous earnings/accomplishments in your chosen field / the accomplishments of your spouse, unmarried partner, or partner. If you get 65 or more, you will be considered a highly qualified immigrant. Initially, an HSMP visa will be granted for one year. After the first year, people who benefit from the program can request to stay longer but still have to be economically active. After that, the visa will be extended for three years. At the end of a total of 4 years, you can also apply for unlimited leave (permanent residence).
Business vacation visa
If you are less than 30 years old and a citizen of the Commonwealth of England (former British Empire), the chances of obtaining a business holiday visa are high. A work holiday visa is valid for two years and allows you to work legally in the UK for 12 months. It is a popular choice among young South Africans, Australians, and New Zealanders looking to gain hands-on experience while enjoying free time to travel through the UK.
Permanent residence and citizenship
Once you have spent four consecutive years in an HSMP or work permit, you may have the right to request unlimited leave (permanent residence). After an additional year of leave indefinitely and once you spend five years in the UK, you may have the right to apply for citizenship (the process of obtaining British citizenship). If your application is accepted, you will become a full British citizen with the British passport you are looking for.