Visas & Work Permits
This web section outlines the UK visa process, and helps you to understand who will need a visa. We also explain about the biometric residence permit, and the police registration process once in the UK. Can we help with your visa? If soEnquire
What is a Visa?
A visa is a document which shows that you have the right to enter and/or work the UK. Not everyone wishing to enter the UK requires a visa; it depends on the purpose of your visit to the UK, your country of nationality and where you currently reside.
If you are not a citizen of one of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries i.e. Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK, then you may need a visa before you travel to the UK.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is responsible for managing the UK's entry clearance operation and permissions to work in the UK. Therefore UKVI will deal with all applications for "visa nationals" who wish to travel to the UK, or "non-visa nationals" who intend to visit for longer than 6 months or who want to settle in the UK. Spouses and children may be given leave to enter or remain in the UK for a period not in excess of that granted to the businesspeople, as long as they have a valid entry clearance. It is also possible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
Types of Visa
There are several types or ‘tiers’ of UK visas, depending on the purpose of the applicant’s visit/stay, and what type of work they will be doing. Most people relocating on assignment with their employer from outside the European Economic Area to the UK will need to apply for a Tier 2 (general) visa, with their employer as their sponsor. The tiers are listed at:
If you are unsure whether you will require a visa or not, or what type of visa you require, the Government website has a step by step process to enable you to find out at:
You will also need to check whether you need a tuberculosis test before applying for your visa – there is a list of Countries from where you need a TB test to enter the UK at:
Applying for a Visa
Once you know what type of visa you need to apply for, you can apply online for a UK visa, up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK, from the country where you are resident at:
Once you have completed the form and paid the visa fee online, you will need to book your appointment at a visa application centre. You can check the cost of your visa application at:
As part of the application for your visa, you will need to attend a visa application centre to have a digital photograph taken of your face and your fingers scanned, in order to obtain a ‘biometric residence permit’ (‘BRP’). You should receive a decision on your visa within 3-4 weeks of your application, in the form of a ‘decision letter’ which tells you when your BRP will be available and where you can collect it from once you arrive in the UK. However, delays do occur, particularly during holiday periods in July-September and December-January.
Most visa applications are granted, but if your application is refused the entry clearance officer will provide you with written reasons for the refusal. It is possible to appeal against refusal of some types of visa application. You can do this online at:
Coming to the UK
When your visa is granted, you will be given a 30 day ‘vignette’ giving you permission to come to the UK. This will be added to a page in your passport and will include your picture and details of your entry clearance. The vignette is only valid for 30 days starting from the date you stated you would enter the UK, even if you actually enter the UK at a later date than you stated in your application.
You must then collect your BRP within 10 days of arriving in the UK, otherwise you may be subject to a financial penalty or reduction or cancellation of your visa. Your BRP will show full details of your permission to stay in the UK including the end date of your visa. It is normally possible to leave and enter the UK as many times as you wish during the period your visa is valid.
If you need to extend your stay beyond the date on your BRP, you can apply to extend your visa for up to another 5 years, as long as your total stay is not more than 6 years. You must make the application before your existing visa expires, and you must still work for the same employer. You will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application, and of course pay the appropriate fee. For further details of visa extensions, see:
Registering with the Police
If you are staying in the UK for longer than 6 months, you need to register with the police. We recommend that you do this as soon as you have collected your BRP, but you must register within 7 days of collecting your BRP in any event. If you are living in London, in an area covered by the Metropolitan Police, you must register at the Overseas Visitors Records Office. If you are outside London you will need to register at a local police station.
You will need to pay a fee when you register. You will also be asked to produce documents to support your circumstances. Some police forces also ask you to complete an application form prior to attending the station, others will complete it with you at the time you attend. Due to the variance we would advise that you contact the individual police station before you go to find out what they require. For further details of registering with the police, see:
Once you have registered with the police, it is your responsibility to inform them if any of the information you have provided changes within 8 days of the change. This includes changes of address, whether the change is your work address or your residential address.
The Police Registration Certificate (PRC) must be kept safe with your BRP as it may be used as an identification document in the UK, and you may be asked to produce it by a Police Officer within 48 hours if, for example, you are stopped by a police officer for a traffic offence.
UK immigration and nationality law is amongst the most complex in the world, and the requirements for visas are subject to frequent change. Therefore, we strongly advise you to consult the UK Government websites for the latest visa and work permit information.