Working and Living in the UK: A Complete Guide on Visas and More

Working and Living in the UK

Are you thinking about making the move to the UK, either for employment or to start a family? It may be difficult to understand the UK immigration system, but with the appropriate knowledge and planning, you can make the process go more smoothly and realise your dream of working and living in the UK. We’ll take you through all you need to know about immigration laws, visa requirements, and more in this comprehensive guide.

Right to Remain in UK

“Right to Remain” in the UK refers to your legal permission to live there.  There are a few categories of people who have the right to remain:

  • British Citizens and Irish Citizens: This is the most straightforward case. As a British or Irish citizen, you automatically have the right to live and work in the UK.
  • EU Settlement Scheme: If you were a resident in the UK by December 31st, 2020, and you’re a citizen of the European Union (EU), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, you most likely need to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. This scheme protects your existing right to live and work in the UK after Brexit.
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR): If you have indefinite leave to remain, you are legally settled in the UK with no restrictions on your stay. You can work, study, and access benefits.
  • Other Immigration Status: There are other visas and immigration statuses that grant you the right to remain in the UK for a set period, such as work visas or student visas.

UK Immigration

A more in-depth look at the UK’s work and life strategy after Brexit is available:

Immigration System

The UK uses a points-based immigration system. This means you accumulate points based on various factors like:

  • Job Offer: Having a job offer from a licensed sponsor in the UK is crucial and earns you points.
  • Skills & Qualifications: Your skills, qualifications, and experience in your field contribute points.
  • Salary: The salary offered for the position should meet a minimum threshold to earn points.
  • English Language Ability: Demonstrating English language proficiency through approved tests is necessary and earns points.

Visas for Skilled Workers

  • Skilled Worker visa: This is the main route for skilled workers. It requires a sponsor and meeting the points threshold. It allows working and living in the UK for an initial period (typically 3 years) with the possibility of extension and applying for settled status after a set period (usually 5 years).
  • Intra-Company Transfer visa: This is for employees transferred from a multinational company to their UK branch.
  • Senior or Specialist Worker visa: This caters to senior or specialist workers in a global business with a presence in the UK.

Visas for Other Categories

  • Graduate visa: For recent graduates from UK universities with a bachelor’s degree or higher to work in the UK for up to two years after their studies.
  • Global Talent visa: Aimed at attracting highly skilled and talented individuals in science, research, and the arts. Offers a fast-track route to work and settle in the UK.
  • Sector-specific visas: There might be visas specific to certain sectors facing skill shortages.

Additional Considerations

  • Maintenance Funds: You’ll need to show sufficient funds to support yourself while living in the UK.
  • Healthcare: Depending on your visa type, you might need to pay a healthcare surcharge to access the National Health Service (NHS).
  • Dependants: You can apply to bring your dependants (spouse, children) to the UK with you, but they might need to meet additional requirements.

Remember, immigration policies can change, so stay updated through official sources.

UK Immigration Points-Based System

The UK’s points-based system can seem daunting at first, but understanding its components can help you navigate it effectively. Here’s a breakdown:

Earning Points

  • Crucial Requirement: A core aspect is having a job offer from a licensed sponsor in the UK. This sponsor acts as your employer and helps navigate the visa process.
  • Point Categories: Points are awarded based on several factors:
  • Job Offer & Occupation: The type of job you’re offered and its skill level (determined by the Regulated Qualifications Framework – RQF) contribute points. Higher skill levels get more points.
  • Salary: The offered salary must meet a minimum threshold based on the occupation. Higher salaries within the threshold earn more points.
  • Qualifications: Your educational qualifications and relevant work experience can earn you points.
  • English Language: Proof of English language proficiency through approved tests like IELTS or OET is mandatory and earns points.

Minimum Point Requirement

To qualify for a visa, you need to reach a minimum points threshold, typically 70 points. The exact number might vary slightly depending on the specific visa route.

Recent Developments in UK Immigration Law

Here are some of the recent developments in UK immigration law:

Increased Requirements

  • Salary Thresholds: There’s been a significant increase in the minimum salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas. From April 4th, 2024, the minimum will be the higher of £38,700 or the going rate for the specific occupation (based on the new Immigration Salary List).
  • Financial Requirements: The minimum income requirement for sponsoring family members has also gone up, starting with an increase on April 11th, 2024, and reaching around £38,700 by early 2025.

Policy Changes

  • Shortage Occupation List Replacement: The government (or Home Office, if relevant) has replaced the Shortage Occupation List with a new Immigration Salary List. This list will be reviewed periodically by the government (or relevant body).
  • Discount for Occupations Removed: Employers can no longer benefit from a discount on the salary threshold for occupations previously on the Shortage Occupation List.
  • Graduate Visa Review: A review of the Graduate visa route has begun, with a report expected by May 14th, 2024.

Other Updates

  • Increased Immigration Health Surcharge: The Immigration Health Surcharge has increased for students, dependants, and some other categories.
  • Sponsor Licence Renewals Abolished: Sponsor licence renewals are no longer required, simplifying the process for employers sponsoring skilled workers.

Remember, immigration policies can change frequently. It’s always best to consult the official UK government websites or an immigration lawyer for the most up-to-date information on your specific situation.

Addressing UK Asylum Seekers’ Rights

Your rights

As an asylum applicant in the United Kingdom, you have the right to:

  • Regardless of your race, gender, age, religion, sexual preference, or condition, you should be treated fairly and legally.
  • You should follow your beliefs and treat people of other faiths with care.
  • get a fair and accurate look at your application
  • you can get help and a place to stay if you meet the standards
  • have free health care through the National Health Service (NHS)
  • have a lawyer represent you. Depending on your case and how much money you make, you may be able to get free legal help. That person who works with you can tell you more.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to get different kinds of help. Read Asylum Support and learn more.

While we are thinking about your refugee request, you will not be able to work regularly. Check out Employment for more details.

Your responsibilities

As an asylum applicant in the United Kingdom, it is your responsibility to:

  • Tell us the truth and work with the Home Office. Anyone who tries to trick us when they apply for refuge is breaking the law. If the court finds you guilty, this could get you sent to jail and then removed.
  • Keep in touch with your supervisor and show up for all of your meetings.
  • Follow the law
  • take care of your kids (for example, kids younger than 16 must always be supervised by an adult, and kids 5 to 16 must go to school full-time).
  • We will not remove you or your children from the UK until we have decided on your refugee application. If we deny your application, you must leave the UK, and any appeals you make will not be successful.


Moving to the UK for work or to build a new life is an exciting opportunity, but it comes with its challenges, particularly when it comes to navigating the immigration system. By understanding the visa options available, staying informed about policy changes, and seeking guidance when needed, you can overcome these challenges and achieve your goal of living and working in the UK.

If you have more concerns regarding living and working in the UK, consider consulting UK Immigration Solictiors contact us at 02033844389


How can I go to the UK from Nigeria without agents?
Navigating the immigration process without agents involves researching visa requirements, completing necessary documentation, and applying directly through the UK government’s official channels.

How do I immigrate to the UK most cheaply?
Opting for visa routes that have lower application fees and fewer requirements, such as certain student visas or family visas, can be more cost-effective.

What do I need to work in the UK?
To work in the UK, individuals typically need a valid work visa corresponding to their employment status, a job offer from a UK employer, and sometimes sponsorship from the employer.

How to reapply for a visa in the UK if I switch employers?
If switching employers in the UK, individuals may need to apply for a new visa under their new employment, ensuring they meet all relevant requirements and deadlines.

Can you get a UK work visa without a job?
While some visa routes require a job offer from a UK employer, others, like the Innovator or Start-up visas, offer opportunities for entrepreneurs and individuals with innovative business ideas to obtain a visa without a job offer.

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