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 course load, 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.

Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5)

The Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5) is part of the UK’s point-based system for immigration. It was created to enable young people to come and enjoy life in the UK for up to 2 years. 

We are happy to offer assistance with the Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5). We’ve put together an outline of the essentials but recommend reviewing the requirements on the official government website. Additionally, read through this T5 caseworker guidance booklet to get a full understanding of the process.

As with all UK visas, the general grounds for refusal can determine whether or not an application is approved.

If an application is denied, the applicant can request an Administrative Review.

Unlike most work visas, the Youth Mobility Scheme does not require an offer of employment to be eligible for it. Compared to other visas, the process is relatively simple and straightforward.

At London Stay UK, we are here to help you navigate your Youth Mobility Scheme journey.


Qualifying for a Youth Mobility Scheme visa:

You must be between the ages of 18 and 30 to avail of the scheme.

  • If you are 17 when you apply, you may still apply but must be 18 by the start date of your visa.
  • If you turn 31 while in the UK, you can remain for the duration of your visa.


You must be from the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Monaco
  • Republic of Korea
  • San Marino
  • Taiwan


You also qualify if you are a British overseas citizen, British overseas territory citizen, or a British national (overseas). You can find more information about British nationality here.

You cannot apply if you have previously been in the UK through the scheme. Additionally, you are ineligible if you have children under the age of 18 that you are responsible for financially or who live with you.


Financial Requirements:

The cost of the visa is £244. 

As part of your application, you must also pay the healthcare surcharge. This calculator will help you determine what you need to pay.

You must show proof that you have £2,530 in your bank account. You will need to prove that amount has been in your account for 28 days in a row, and day 28 must be within 31 days of your visa application.



As part of your application, you will need to provide several documents:

  • Valid passport or other document showing identity and nationality.
  • Bank statement showing at least £2,530 in savings.
  • If you’re from a country where you must take a tuberculosis (TB) test (more information here), you will need to present a certificate of a negative result.


Your passport must have a blank page. Be sure it has at least 6 months before expiration. 

We would recommend that if your passport is due to expire in the next 2 years (during your time in the UK) that you renew it before applying. 

All documents not in English or Welsh must include a certified translation.

Each country has a maximum number of spots allocated each year. Your application may be refused if that allocation has been reached for the year. 

If you are from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, or Hong Kong the Home Office uses a lottery system for applicants, who must submit their request to apply via email. The Home Office then sends out “invitations to apply” at random. Keep any eye out for “first ballot” announcements via the UK.gov website. You’re given a 2 days window to submit your interest in applying.

  • Australia – 30,000 places
  • New Zealand – 13,000 places
  • Canada – 5,000 places
  • Japan – 1,000 places
  • Monaco – 1,000 places
  • Taiwan – 1,000 places
  • Hong Kong – 1,000 places
  • South Korea – 1,000 places
  • San Marino – 1,000 places (must have a Certificate of Sponsorship from San Marino)


Submitting your application:

Initial applications are completed online. We advise that you review the guidelines on the official UK government site before submitting your application, which can be done here.

After you have submitted your online application you must get your fingerprints and photograph taken at an official visa application centre.

Upon arriving in the UK, biometric residence permits (BRP) must be collected within 10 days of when you said you would arrive. Always follow that date, even if traveling later.

You can apply up to 6 months (180 days) before you want to arrive.

If something changes, you can delay your visa by up to 6 months (180 days) from the day your online visa application.

Although there are sometimes delays, once you have submitted your application it typically takes from 3 to 5 weeks to be accepted.