• Do you want to live and work in the United Kingdom, but you are not a British resident and don’t have any family ties there?
• What kind of jobs qualify for visa sponsorship?
• What is the most efficient strategy for getting a Skilled Worker visa (previously known as Tier 2 General)?
How to get the UK work visa?
When you consider moving abroad and try your luck at getting a job in the UK, at first, this task seems daunting.
There are not enough resources that can explain the complexity of the UK immigration system. Browsing the gov.uk website for information can take hours, and there are virtually no tools that can simplify this challenge.
I was in the same position myself, so I know exactly how difficult and lonely this journey is.
Is there a shortcut?
I’m not going to lie to you and say that there is an easy and quick way of receiving a UK work permit. You will have to work hard and be patient to achieve your goal.
The good news is that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to if you set a clear action plan that you can follow.
UKHired prepared this comprehensive guide into getting a job and a Skilled Worker visa (previously known as Tier 2 General) by thoroughly studying the topic, gathering insights from top professionals and summarising the most relevant information from the Home Office regulations.
As a bonus, we interviewed the people who received Tier 2 Visa, and they kindly shared their tips and tricks that helped them get the job offer with visa sponsorship.
Step 1: Smart Job Search
Getting a job in the UK with visa sponsorship is challenging because not every role or company qualifies to sponsor visas for foreign employees. There are certain conditions that the job should meet to be eligible, such as the minimum qualification, appropriate salary rate, sponsor’s licence, and others.
You probably noticed by now that most of the popular British job boards don't provide visa information in the job ad. Their focus is on providing value for British citizens and people who already have a work permit. While there are many open roles on these websites, their search functionality doesn’t allow you to check if employers are willing to hire overseas workers.
So, if you are unfamiliar with the legal requirements, you might fall into the trap of applying for many jobs that don’t qualify to sponsor international candidates. The worst thing is to find out that you can't be sponsored for this job is at the final interview stage when you already wasted lots of time and effort into getting this job.
To avoid this mistake, foreign job seekers should improve their job search strategy and only apply for jobs in companies with a sponsorship licence.
Instead of going on big job platforms, search for jobs on niche websites tailored for foreign applicants. For example, Student Circus or Target jobs are great job boards for international students, as they provide visa-specific filters.
Here at UKHired, we tailored our whole platform for the needs of overseas job seekers. We make sure that all the jobs you see have been carefully checked against the latest Home Office recommendations.
We also built a points-based calculator that tells you exactly how many points you could potentially score for this job, using information such as SOC code, salary going rate and other criteria.
Step 2: Assess Your Strengths
The competition for visa sponsorship positions is very high, so you have to be smart and quick at your job hunt.
Remember that you compete with local and international candidates. Some industries are more competitive than others. For instance, there are, on average, 53 applications for a role in tech, telecoms and media.
You should carefully examine the jobs on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and assess if you have skills to do any of them. This is a list of jobs where international applicants are not only allowed but encouraged. We published a list of the 20 most popular SOL jobs in 2020 if you have the necessary job experience, skills and education, your chance of receiving the UK work visa increase significantly.
Think about your strengths and how you can leverage them to get a job offer. Do you speak another foreign language? Do you have extensive work experience or worked in multiple countries?
You should know your unique skills and use them at the next stage.
Step 3: Optimise Your Application
A CV, or resume, is a document that contains the most important information about your skills, work and educational background.
Your potential visa sponsor will decide if you are a good job fit for the job by looking at your CV. It is important to make a good first impression to progress to the next stage.
There are variations of CVs in each country, so you have to make sure that your CV is well-formatted according to the British standards. This article explains how your CV should look like to get a job in the UK. If you need help writing your CV, you can find websites with useful templates in our toolkit.
Another thing to remember is that some large UK companies use the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to check if your CV matches the advertised job automatically.
You can use this service to beat the system and make sure that you pass the ATS.
Please note that sometimes you might want to tailor your CV to match a particular job.
If you apply for different roles or sectors, you should highlight the most relevant experience and omit others. You can present your experience in a better light by slightly changing your perspective.
It would be best if you did not treat your CV as a place to tell your whole life story.
If you feel like your high school job at a café is worth mentioning because it taught you a valuable skill needed to perform a job you apply for, then mention it. Otherwise, leave it.
Only put the most relevant work experience and skills.
A cover letter, also known as a letter of application, is a document you enclose with your CV.
It is intended to provide detailed information on why you are a qualified candidate for the job and why your employer should hire you.
That’s why you must write a unique letter for each job you apply to.
Read more about how to write cover letters here.
As a foreigner, you might be wondering whether you should mention your visa in your application or at the interview?
Alex, who received his Tier 2 visa from Axa XL shares his story and a smart trick he came up with:
“Before I received the job offer from a company I work at now, I made many other job applications. At first, I didn’t tell employers that I needed visa sponsorship. This resulted in many wasted hours because I progressed through several selection stages only to find out at the final interview that there is no sponsorship available for me. After that, I made a cover letter template where I briefly discussed my immigration status. By being transparent and straightforward I saved a lot of time and received my work visa”.
Once you have a good template for your CV and cover letter, don't forget about spending some time on improving your LinkedIn account.
British employers and recruiters check your social media and use LinkedIn to vet candidates. Read this guide on how to optimise your profile to impress UK employers.
Step 4: Prepare for Employment Screening Tests
Most companies in the UK organise pre-employment tests or talent assessments to determine if you are a good fit for the job.
Different kinds of tests assess whether your skills, personality, work style, and knowledge fit the role at hand or company culture. You often have to take Cognitive Ability Tests. Most of the time, you have to take aptitude tests that examine your numerical and verbal reasoning skills, critical thinking and other traits.
Tests can be given online or in assessment centres. This might sound intimidating if you’ve never taken any employment screening tests before but don’t be afraid.
You can learn about various types of tests and practice using different resources listed in our toolkit. Apart from aptitude tests, employers also look for candidates who can demonstrate their soft skills. Learn about the 10 most important soft skills here.
Step 5: Ace a Job Interview
If you get to the interview stage, you are halfway there to get a UK work permit.
This is your chance to demonstrate your strengths and convince the hiring team that you are the best candidate for this role.
Preparing for the interview is crucial, so you should leave considerable time for this stage.
Read more about how to prepare for the job interview in the UK here.
Here are the main interview preparation stages:
- Conduct thorough research about the company and job opening. You should know about your employer enough than 2 sentences. Read as much as possible about your company to prepare for the conversation. Learning about the company’s recent accomplishments, competition, values, and plans will help you better explain how you can fit and add value.
- Talk to someone who works at the company or who can link you with a current or former employee. You’ll be able to gather useful information that can give you an advantage over the other applicants. This step could be difficult if you don’t have any connections in the UK. Overcome this challenge by talking to the current or previous employees on LinkedIn to find out more about the role.
- Practice various interview questions and prepare your answers. Many online resources and forums post frequent interview questions asked in the UK. For example, in this video.
- On the interview day, you should bring your CV, a list of references and any work samples you want to show to the employer. You should dress formally and follow business etiquette.
- Remember to accentuate your strengths, give detailed answers and stay calm. It is a common practice in the UK to leave time for your questions at the end of the interview. Prepare these questions in advance.
- Thank the interviewer at the end of the interview and emphasise your interest in this role. You can also write a follow-up email after the interview.
Valeriy, who received his Tier 2 visa from Cru International, shares his advice:
“Doing research about your potential sponsor is crucial. I knew that there were around 70% of non-EU employees at the company that I applied for, which indicated a high chance of receiving the UK work visa. Just be yourself, talk about your strengths and be open about your need to obtain a work permit”.
Step 6: Receive Your Job Offer with UK Work Permit
Congratulations! Following these steps, with a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, you should receive a job offer with visa sponsorship.
Now it’s time to celebrate and apply for your work visa!
As you can see, getting a job in the UK as a foreigner is possible. Nobody promised that it would be easy, but all great things in life are difficult to achieve.
The summary of your action plan to get the UK work visa:
- Don’t apply to any roles you find on the web. You have to do a smart job search and only apply for roles that are confirmed to sponsor visa or qualify for visa sponsorship.
- Assess your strong traits and figure out what differentiates you from other candidates. Check if you qualify for SOL jobs; if you do, then use this filter on our website.
- Spend some time formatting your CV. Write a bespoke Cover Letter for each job application.
- Prepare for the job assessment, practice aptitude tests.
- Do your research before the interview and convince the sponsor why you are the best fit for the job.
We hope that this action plan inspired you to chase your dream job!
Now you have all the knowledge and tools to launch your career in the UK.
Start today by browsing through jobs with visa sponsorship on UKHired.