Right to work
in the UK?

Does your employee have the right to work in the UK?

Britain’s obligations to the European Economic Area allow certain foreign nationals to work in the UK without them needing express permission in the form of a visa or permit. Our lawyers are able to offer advice on how to effectively screen prospective employees to ensure that your business complies with current immigration legislation.

Automatic Right

Nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland have the automatic right to work in the UK without any restriction on the length of time they are employed or the level of skill their job requires. The EEA is comprised of all EU member states, Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein. As new members join the EU, their citizens gain the right to move and work freely throughout the Union.


EU members: A2 nationals
In 2007, Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU, and therefore are now members of the EEA. The rights of their citizens to work in the UK are gradually being brought in line with those of other member states. They are currently allowed to work in the UK provided they have an Accession Worker Card and their employer has a Work Permit.


Work Permit
If you wish to hire an A2 national, you will have to apply for a Work Permit and the prospective employee will have to hold an Accession Worker Card.

Some industries are exempt from the requirement to have a work permit for A2 nationals.


Agricultural workers

If you are employing A2 nationals for short-term agricultural work, they must have applied on the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme. You do not need a Work permit to hire workers falling into this category as long as they are doing low-skilled and short-term agricultural work.


Tier 1

If a prospective employee holds a visa from one of the Tier 1 categories they are allowed to take up employment, subject to certain conditions:

  • Exceptional talent – holders of this visa must not be employed as trainee doctors or dentists or as sportspersons-including as sports coaches
  • Entrepreneur – these individuals may only work for businesses that they themselves have established, joined or taken over
  • General – this form of visa is no longer being granted by the UK Border Agency but current holders of this visa may extend theirs. They must not be employed as trainee doctors or dentists or as sportspersons-including as sports coaches
  • Graduate entrepreneur – these individuals may only work for businesses they have established but they may be hired to do a job that requires no more than 20 working hours a week

Tier 2

Tier 2 visas are given to skilled workers coming to the UK to fill vacancies that cannot be given to a member of the settled workforce. If you wish to employ someone who requires a Tier 2 visa, you will need to hold a Tier 2 licence. You will also need this licence if you are a multinational company wishing to bring a foreign employee in an overseas office to your UK branch.


Tier 4

If a prospective employee if a foreign national studying in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, they will be allowed to work full time during vacations. During term time, university students may work for up to 20 hours a week and students at other institutions may work for up to 10 hours a week. They are also permitted to do work placements as part of their course.


Tier 5

There are 2 types of Tier 5 visa:

  • Temporary Workers
    You may hire a foreign national for up to 2 years on this category of visa. You will need a licence to be able to sponsor their visa applications.

  • Youth Mobility
    The UK supports an international youth mobility scheme that allows young people from some foreign countries to come and experience life in the UK for up to two years. These individuals will hold a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) visa and there are no restrictions on the work they are allowed to do as long as their visa is valid.

Our Immigration lawyers and immigration Solicitors can assist you through the complex rule & regulations in making a visa application.

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