Working in the UK - Visas etc

The UK is a large, diverse place for employment. People from all over the world work there. That said, it's also a unique environment, in social terms and in terms of a drastically changed society.

The UK, like Europe, has its share of illegal immigrants, and requirements for foreign workers have been tightening.

The Home Office UK Border Agency UKBA is the responsible authority for work permits.

Visas

Fortunately, UKBA has a page where you can find out if you require a visa for the purpose of your visit, including work.

Just complete the form, and hit the Find Out button.

Work Permits

UKBA's Working in the UK page gives a complete guide to the eligibility requirements for workers. There's a points system for many entrants, and special requirements and schemes for some foreign nationals. There are also special schemes which apply to students, etc.

We make a point of telling people to make sure they understand the process of applying for visas and work permits, and in the case of the UK that's really a pretty simple matter of just asking.

However, again, if you don't understand anything, make sure you ask, and know what the legal requirements for your job are.

Really, there's no need to lose a job for the sake of making a phone call or two. Just get it right, and there won't be any problems.

Job search in the UK

The UK fits a lot of business into a small area. The sources for job are mostly online, like most other countries. But local areas also contain a lot of possible employment, and local sources are well worth checking out.

Regional jobs in the UK are rather different. The UK isn't so much decentralized as multi-centered. Manchester is now the other big urban area in the UK, and the related businesses are spread across England.

The spread of industry and business has created a lot of regional work. In the south, some businesses have relocated from London, and the spread of Manchester has added some movement in that region.

You need to know what's where, in the UK, to get a picture of how to organize a job. Working in London or Manchester is typical big city work, but further out, you need to be able to navigate well, to do your job search effectively.

Job applications

UK job applications are pretty much standard.

However- the job market is big, and competition is serious. It's strongly advised to contact the employer or agent, and get information about your application's requirements and the job itself.

This is also advisable to save time and make sure you're not using up time and money on an unproductive application.

Each application should be researched, and so should the employers. The more information you have, the better your chances.

You may need to show proof of accreditation for your qualifications.
Check what the employer wants, in terms of seeing qualifications, in particular. Educational requirements form part of the job application, and it's possible to create problems if you just supply information from your home country without checking.

(This is a formal legal situation. The employer does have to be able to show that your qualifications are those required for the job.)

Job interviews

The UK is a modern workplace environment, and interviews are of a similar standard. The UK isn't quite as extensively obsessive as the US with interview techniques, but you can expect similar levels of screening, and multiple interviews in some cases.

There are Equal Employment laws, Anti Discrimination laws, and you should research these as a matter of principle, to make sure you can answer any questions in these important areas.

There are no specifically British-style job interviews, but you'd be advised to do at least one training course in the UK to familiarize yourself with the interview culture.

Living in the UK

The UK is an extremely diverse, multicultural society with a lot of local factors affecting different areas. Some areas are considered ethnic, others are considered working class areas, and standards of accommodation are highly variable.

Safety and street crime are an issue in the UK, much to the irritation of the inhabitants. Learn about the localities you're in, know what's going on, and stay out of trouble.

Cost is also a factor. The UK is a semi-expensive place to live, in terms of a weekly budget. The UK pound sterling can be a bit disorienting for those used to other currencies, because of its relatively high value exchange rate. You'll also need to know the comparative rates with the Euro, as part of your budgeting.

Always work on a realistic budget, wherever you are, and try to have some reserve cash on hand.

English language skills are important.

The overall opinion of professionals is that non-English speakers can be seriously disadvantaged if they lack base-level daily conversational skills.

From personal experience: The number of Non English Speaking Background (NESB) people seeking assistance in routine matters is quite disproportionate. In many cases they haven't received, or have been unable to understand, advice given to them regarding basic daily issues, like consumer complaints. That means they're not aware of their rights.

In the workplace, poor English skills are a definite mistake. You might get by with bad English at a very low level job, but higher jobs are out of the question.

It's an avoidable situation.

So avoid it.

Living in the UK has another big advantage. The close proximity to Europe allows for some good sightseeing. In a year, you can find time to see a lot of Europe. You can just hop on a ferry, and go and see Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Brussels in a week or so, or go and bury yourself in a French vineyard for a long-ish weekend with a bit of added leave. You can also base yourself there and research available work in Europe.

Working in the UK

The UK is a surprisingly underrated place to work.

The UK has a few things very much in its favor for job seekers, particularly professionals. It has all of the world's major employers based in London, for one thing.

The UK is a highly capital intensive economy, and there's a lot of work in the finance and business sectors for competitive applicants. It's also a big employment market, meaning jobs are available more or less continuously.

It's a relatively easy place to move around, traffic notwithstanding. Public transport is quite good, despite comments from the British, and distances arenwqt really a problem for those used to places like Australia or the US and Canada.

England does have a claim on being an unknown gem as a place to work, and Scotland is also worth a look both from an employment perspective and as an interesting place to visit.

Exceptions to the Work Permits procedures: Worker Registration Scheme

Work permits are issued to workers from outside the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) where no other treaty arrangements apply.

You must register under the Worker Registration Scheme if you are a citizen of the following countries:

The Czech Republic

Estonia

Hungary

Latvia

Poland

Slovakia

Slovenia

Once registered, you will need to complete 12 months continuous employment before you have full rights of free movement in the UK.

After 12 months employment you may apply for a residence permit.