How to Apply for a Visa to Work in the United Kingdom

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The tier 2 (skilled worker) visa is designed for foreigners interested in working as a resident in the United Kingdom. To become qualified for a tier 2 visa, you must already have a job offer from an employer in the UK that is willing to sponsor your immigration and help you obtain a certificate of sponsorship. Your occupation must also be approved under the recently developed points-based system before you can legally work and live in the UK.

Establish an understanding of the points-based system (PBS). It manages the migration of prospective workers to the UK by awarding points according to how many sections of the application process are fulfilled. Use the self-assessment points calculator online (see the resources section) to learn how points are earned and what evidence is required with your application.

Complete application form VAF9 on the UK Border Agency website with your basic information. Then use the results obtained from the calculator to print and complete Appendix 5. Ask the visa application center nearest you (see the resources section) if it is necessary to submit your application there or at the British embassy or consulate in your country.

Provide your valid passport and a recent color passport photo. The photo must be 45mm by 35mm in size and taken against a white background. It must show a frontal view of the face without sunglasses, hats or head coverings, except for religious attire worn on a daily basis.

Submit application forms VAF9 and Appendix 5 to the visa application center or consulate office and provide your biometric data -- a 10-digit fingerprint scan and a digital photograph. The procedure is performed on site and takes about 15 minutes.

Pay the tier 2 visa fee of £125, which is nonrefundable and paid in your local currency. The entry clearance officer will have your visa processed in two to 15 days, when you can retrieve it from the application center or designated office. Your visa will be issued for three years and one month.

Tips & Warnings

  • Becoming a sponsor for a tier 2 applicant involves an entirely separate process. Refer your employer to www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/employers for information on how to apply for sponsorship.

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