Visa Guide: United Kingdom: The best options for young professionals

Thinking about moving to the UK for new opportunities? Despite the recent Brexit decision, the UK remains an excellent hub for incredible new tech companies and talents to congregate and create. For Americans, Canadians, and Australians, immigrating to the UK for work is easy as it’s English speaking, western in culture, but is still a whole new part of the world in extreme proximity to the countries of Europe.

London is considered a leading tech startup hub (read about more here) with some unbelievable companies emerging over the last few years such as $2 billion-valued Deliveroo and Babylon. In total, London tech raised a record-breaking $2.9 billion pounds in 2015 and the jobs are following.

If you’re thinking about joining in on the fast growing tech world in the UK, there are plenty of options for you to do so. Take a look below at the types of visas available and their requirements to determine your next step towards the world’s second Silicon Valley:

Luckily, the UK’s work visas are organized by “tiers”. We’ll go through the ones that are most relevant and possible below.

Let’s start with Tier 1: Entrepreneurs

This is for those who want to start a business in the UK. You can stay on this visa for a maximum of 3 years and 4 months. You can then apply to extend in a few different ways, but not beyond 5 years on this visa. You are able to use this visa to bring family with you. You cannot work for another company on this visa. This is a score based visa system, so you will need to qualify with points for these visas. Look at the specifics below.


  • Access to £50,000 in investment funds in a regulated institution
  • £1,300 to apply
  • Speak English
  • Be financially able to support yourself
  • Score 95 points – Here’s how
  • Be 16 or older

What it will cost and how long it will take:

  • 3 months, though you should get a decision in 3 weeks.
  • £1,300 to apply
  • A surcharge for health insurance (calculate it here).

The documents you need:

  • Passport
  • Show of funds
  • A complete business plan
  • Show of financial stability during stay
  • TB medical test
  • Proof of English competency
  • Criminal record of current country

You can apply online.

Tier 1: Exceptional Talent:

This is if you’ve been recognized as a leader or emerging leader in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology, or the arts. You can bring family on this visa.

  1. . Apply to the Home Office for endorsement as a leader.
    • For this you will pay about £300
  1. Apply for the visa like a regular Tier 1 as mentioned above.
    • You will pay another £300

With this visa you can work for a company, for yourself, or do voluntary work. Once you get your endorsement letter, you will be able to submit this with you passport and a TB test and apply.

Tier 2 Visa: You’ve got a job!

This is the visa you can apply for is you’ve found sponsorship from a company that is a licensed sponsor in the UK, which can be very helpful. If you’re looking for a company to sponsor you for a positions, search here.  This visa will grant you up to 5 years. You are able to work for your company, do some side work, study, and bring family with you. It’s quite flexible for young professionals or those with dependants.

To qualify:

  • Have certificate of sponsorship from your new employers
  • Prove a legal salary (at least £30,000)
  • Know English
  • Have enough saved to support yourself when you arrive and get settled –  £945
  • Disclosure of travel history over 5 years.
  • Pass a TB test
  • Show criminal record from last 10 years.

The process for this visa takes about 8 weeks in general, 10 days if you qualify for priority, and same day if you use the premium service. Far faster than most visa processes!

How much you pay for your visa fee depends of if you are applying for:

You may extend your visa if you are still in the same job later on. You may need to re-qualify if you change jobs.

Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa:

This is an awesome option for anyone fresh out of school from certain countries looking for a new adventure and international experience on their resume. A Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa allows you to work and live in the UK for up to 2 years. This is for anyone between the ages of 18-30. You will not, however, be able to sponsor children or family. Solo travelers only!

However, it is for a limited number of countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Hong Kong
  • Republic of Korea
  • Taiwan

You must have:

  • £1,890 saved up to support yourself
  • Passport
  • A TB test

This visa will take 6 months, so plan ahead!

For most of the world, a sponsored visa is your best way into the UK. To find a job that is looking for your skills and able to sponsor you, search here for open positions now.

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