Every year, more than 35,000 people from destinations such as Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand decide to spend time living and working in the UK. Spending time in a completely different environment is an excellent way to experience new things, gain work experience, embrace new cultures and broaden your horizons. Unfortunately, this is not as simple as saying goodbye and boarding a plane to Heathrow Airport.
How do I get there?
If you are one of the lucky few who already have an EU passport, then this article is not for you. Travellers holding an EU passport can work not only in the UK but also anywhere in the EU. If you do not have an EU passport, please continue reading. The UK offers a large number of immigration visas, residence and work permit to make your dream of living and working in the UK come true. Some of these options may even eventually lead to permanent residence, British citizenship and British passports.
Work permit program
The UK Work Permit Program is a specific employer and job program designed specifically for professionals or executives who will bring value and skills to the UK job market. If you have a job offer from a UK employer and meet certain conditions, you can apply for a work permit. The main purpose of these visas is to help companies develop internationally and hire key personnel who do not have the required work status in the UK. The maximum validity period of a work permit is five years. After four years of obtaining the work permit, the holder can apply for residency/stay in the UK indefinitely.
High Skilled Migration Program (HSMP)
HSMP aims to allow highly skilled people to immigrate to the UK in order to find job opportunities or self-employment. The highly skilled immigration scheme is different from the work permit scheme because you do not need to apply for specific job opportunities in the UK. This point-based program applies to points earned in five key areas: educational qualifications/work experience/past income/your achievements in the chosen field/husband, wife or unmarried partner’s achievements. If you get 65 points or above, you will be eligible to become a highly qualified immigrant. Initially, the HSMP visa was valid for one year. After the first year, those who join the program can request a longer stay but must remain financially active. The visa will then be extended for another three years. After a total of 4 years, you can also submit an application for an indefinite residence permit (permanent residence).
Work and holiday visa
If you are under 30 years of age and a citizen of the Commonwealth (former British Empire) country, your chances of obtaining a working holiday visa are high. The working holiday visa is valid for two years and allows you to work legally in the UK for 12 months. This is a popular choice for young South Africans, Australians and New Zealanders who want to gain some work experience while enjoying some free time in the UK.
Permanent residents and citizenship
Once you have spent four consecutive years on the HSMP or Work Permit, you are eligible to apply for an indefinite residence permit (permanent residence). After one year of indefinite residence permit and 5 years of residence in the UK, you may be entitled to apply for naturalization (the process of becoming a British citizen). If your application is successful, you will become an official British citizen with a British passport.