Moving to London, Studies, Work


A Brief Guide to Working in the UK After Brexit

LondonStayUK has put together a guide to help EU citizens who still want to come to the United Kingdom post-Brexit. We know that the process can be confusing, so we’ve put together a simple outline to help you through the first steps. We strongly recommend you follow all government-issued guidance when officially applying.

It is very challenging to obtain a visa without a skilled job. Unfortunately, most jobs within hospitality do not fall into this category.

If you started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 you should qualify for the EU Settlement Scheme. You have until 30 June 2021 to apply. 


Points Based System

Free movement between the UK and the EU officially ended on 31 December 2020. Now, EU citizens must participate in the UK’s points-based immigration system.

What is the points-based system? The system was created to prioritise skill over the country of origin. All visa applicants must reach a certain number of “points” based on the specific visa’s requirements.

There are many visas for entering the UK, but we’ve provided information on the two most common routes.

Irish citizens do not need a visa to work in the UK.


Skilled Worker Visa

If you are granted a Skilled Worker Visa you can stay up to 5 years before applying to extend. If you change jobs or employers you must apply to update your visa.

There are basic requirements you must meet to obtain a Skilled Worker visa:

  1. Your employer must be approved by the Home Office
  2. You must have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer that includes information about the job you’ve been offered
  3. The job must be on the list of eligible occupations
  4. It must pay a minimum salary – this is dependent on the type of job you do

How do you determine if your job is eligible? You need to get its 4-digit occupation code, which your employer should be able to provide. If you don’t know the code you can search here.


You must prove you can read, write, speak and understand English to a B1 level on the CEFR scale.

There are a few ways to do this: 

  1. Secure English Language Test (SELT) via an approved provider
  2. Hold a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English
  3. Have a degree-level academic qualification taught in English


We suggest you review the full page on language requirements here, which includes a list of countries that are exempt from this requirement as well as other exemptions. 

The government website outlines all the steps you need to take to apply from outside the UK.

How much does it cost? This varies:

  • Application fee ranges from £610 to £1,408 depending on the circumstances
  • Healthcare surcharge, approximately £624 per year
  • Demonstrate you have at least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt)


Have a look at this in-depth explanation of Skilled Worker Visa costs here.

The decision takes about 3 weeks from when you complete and submit your application. 


Student visa

The student visa is a popular route for young people who want to live in the UK and further their education.

To qualify you must:

  1. Have been offered a place on a Home Office-licensed Student Sponsor
  2. Read, speak, write and understand English (same language requirement as the Skilled Worker Visa)
  3. Have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course
  4. Have a genuine intent to study in the UK


How much does it cost?

  • £348 to apply from outside the UK
  • £475 to extend or switch from inside the UK
  • Healthcare surcharge, which varies in cost (see calculator here) and on average is about £624 per year


You can apply up to 6 months before the start of your course, and you should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

As a student, you can work in a limited capacity. This is dependent on your courseload, as well as the time of year. Further guidance on work is provided after your application is approved. 

We don’t recommend using a student visa as a way to work in the UK. Your hours and job options are limited in order to ensure visa-recipients are focused on study.


What other options do you have when applying for a visa to live and work in the UK? 

You can find a list of every visa, including some very specific types of work visas (Global Talent, startups, innovators) here.

We hope this helps you to get an idea of the process. LondonStayUK strongly recommends you follow the government-issued step-by-step guidance when applying.

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