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New UK work visas decoded
Aruni Mukherjee
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October 31, 2008

There has been a lot of confusion over the newly introduced points-based system for individuals applying to work in the UK. In this article I hope to outline the main schemes under which a non-EEA citizen can apply to work in the UK and by doing so attempt to explain the eligibility criteria clearly amidst the barrage of information that has been placed on the official websites.

For European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals, the regulations are far less onerous, however, for anybody from outside these areas (including from India), the following schemes are the main categories under which they can apply to work in the UK.

Post-study workers
If you have graduated from a British university (or comparable institution) in the past 12 months, you may be entitled to work in the UK for a limited period of time (two years). This new category has replaced the old Science and Engineering Graduates and the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland schemes.

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Under the new points-based system, you will have to score 75 points for your attributes, 10 points for your English language skills and another 10 points for showing that you have sufficient funds to maintain yourself in the UK. In other words you will need 95 points to qualify.

You are awarded points for your attributes if you held a student visa and were studying towards an undergraduate or postgraduate degree offered by a listed institution. However, if you are unable to claim points for sufficient funds, your application will be rejected. If you are applying from within the UK, this means having at least GBP 800 [approx 64,000] (for you for at least three months) prior to submitting your application. The amount is substantially more if you are applying from outside the UK, and increases for each dependent you want to bring to the UK.

You may find the following links useful:

~ Points calculator: self-assessment:

~ Post-study worker category: general eligibility information:

Training and Work Experience Scheme
This scheme allows companies to recruit people from outside the EEA to undertake work-based training, either for a professional qualification or for work experience. The application is to be made by the employer (and not the individual), so you should first have the relevant arrangements in place with the company.

There are a number of exhaustive criteria to fulfil before a TWES permit is granted. Some of them are as follows:

The scheme is primarily meant for providing an opportunity for non-EEA nationals to acquire job-based skills in the UK which they can use in their country for furthering their career prospects. Therefore, an individual who has left the UK after completing a period of training under the TWES scheme usually may not return to the UK as work permit holder for at least two years which they must spend outside the country.

You may find the following link on the UK Border Agency website useful:

Work Permit
This is the most common category under which non-EEA nationals come to work in the UK. The 'business and commercial' category is the general work permit category, with specialised routes such as 'sports and entertainment' also existing.

The work permit application has to be made by your potential employer in the UK. Only when the application has been successful can you apply for an entry clearance in India to come to the UK. In basic terms, they would have to convince the UK Border Agency on the application that your skills cannot be replaced by a resident worker and that you will be remunerated in accordance with your high skills.

Your potential employer can also apply under this category if your position is listed under the shortage occupations list. As of July 2008 the list included, among others, transport and highway engineers, doctors, nurses, qualified social workers.

Further information can be found here:

Highly Skilled Workers
This programme is a successor to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) which is aimed at highly qualified individuals from outside the EEA who want to come to the UK to seek employment or look for self-employment opportunities.

Under the new points-based system you will have to score 95 points to be eligible under this scheme. This includes 75 points for your attributes (age, qualification, previous earnings, etc) and 10 each for your English language proficiency and availability of funds to maintain yourselves whilst in the UK.

For instance, you may score 50 points if you have a PhD, but only 30 if you have a Bachelor's degree. Similarly, if your previous earnings were between GBP 26,000 and GBP 28,999 you may get 25 points, but you may score 45 if they exceeded GBP 40,000 a year. Similarly your score will depend on your age and previous UK experience.

Further information, including the application procedure, can be found here:


You should not harbour any illusions about finding work in the UK if you are a non-EEA national. It is extremely difficult, particularly with the influx of migrants from other parts of the EU who are entitled to work freely in the UK. However, if you have the right set of skills and experience, you should stand in good stead when seeking work in the UK.

Most international students studying in the UK who go on to secure a job either do it through the short-term programmes such as the TWES and the post-study worker category, or apply for jobs where employers are able to apply for the work permit. Typically the latter jobs are highly competitive such as those offered by investment banks and accountancy firms.

I hope that this article has offered a brief overview of the four main categories under which Indian nationals can seek work in the UK. Needless to say, you will have to do extensive research on the particular types of documents needed to support your application and understand the whole application process. However, I hope this has provided you with a good starting point.

There are several other categories under which individuals can apply to work in the UK which are listed on the UK Border Agency website. My aim has been to outline the four most common routes through which Indians apply to work in the UK.

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