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UK Work Visas for US Citizens

If you are a US national and would like to work in the UK, you will need to secure a work visa before you travel here. In most cases, to secure a UK work permit, you will need a suitable job offer from a UK employer with a sponsor licence granted by the UK Home Office. However, not all work visas require sponsorship, for instance, the new High Potential Individual visa as explained below. In this article, we will outline 4 of the most popular UK working visas for US citizens:

  • Skilled worker visa
  • Scale up visa
  • High potential individual visa
  • Global business mobility visa

Please note this is not an exhaustive list of the possible visa routes available to US citizens; you may have other UK work visas and permits available to you. For advice on the options that apply in your unique circumstances, speak to an immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

Skilled worker visa for US citizens

The Skilled Worker visa is by far the most commonly used immigration route for US citizens who intend to work in the UK. US citizens working in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa benefit compared to applicants from many other countries because they do not need to meet the English language requirement.

American citizens applying for the UK’s Skilled Worker visa must be able to prove they:

  • Have a job offer from a sponsor licence holder in the UK (and have a Certificate of Sponsorship)
  • Have a job that is on the list of eligible occupations
  • Meet the minimum salary requirements – either a salary of £25,600, pay of £10.10 per hour, or the going rate for their occupation. It may be possible to have a lower salary if they have a job in a shortage occupation, are studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training, or have a Ph.D.
  • Have sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK (£1,270 held for at least 28 days before applying).

A skilled worker visa is typically granted for a period of up to 5 years, after which it is possible to further extend the visa or apply for settlement in the UK (also referred to as ILR) in the UK.

Scale up visa for US citizens

The Scale-up visa is very similar to the Skilled Worker visa, however, holders enjoy the added benefit of being able to switch employers and jobs after 6 months in the UK without seeking permission from the Home Office (Skilled Worker visa holders must apply to do this). A ‘Scale up’ refers to a business in the UK that is experiencing rapid growth. To meet this definition, they must have grown by an average of 20% in each of the last 3 years in terms of employment or total sales and had a minimum of 10 employees at the start of that 3-year period.

US nationals applying for a Scale-up visa for the UK’s Skilled Worker visa must be able to prove they:

  • Have a skilled job offer from a scale-up sponsor licence holder in the UK (and have a Certificate of Sponsorship) for a duration of at least 6 months
  • Have a job that is on the list of eligible occupations
  • Meet the minimum salary requirements – either a salary of £33,000, pay of £10.10 per hour, or the going rate for their occupation.
  • Have sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK (£1,270 held for at least 28 days before you apply).

Scale-up visa is issued for up to 2 years, after which it is possible to further extend the visa or apply for ILR after 5 years of residence in the UK.

High potential individual visa for US citizens

The High Potential Individual visa for US citizens allows those who have recently graduated from a top US university to come to the UK to seek employment and work in most jobs. This scheme is particularly beneficial for US citizens in that it does not require sponsorship by a UK employer and allows holders to work for any employer, even those without a sponsor licence.

US citizens applying for a High Potential Individual visa must be able to prove they:

  • Have the equivalent of a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK postgraduate degree, or a UK Ph.D. or doctorate from a top US university gained in the last 5 years. It is important to note that the list of eligible universities changes1 each year.
  • Have sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK (£1,270 held for at least 28 days before you apply).

The list of eligible US universities for 2022 includes:

  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • New York University (NYU)
  • Northwestern University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Washington
  • Yale University

High Potential Individual visa is normally granted for up to 2 years or 3 years for those with a Ph.D. or doctorate. It is not possible to further extend the High Potential visa, however, US nationals can switch to another type of work visa while in the UK that allows for further extension and qualifies for settlement in the UK. As such, the High Potential Individual visa is a great way for graduates of a top US university to come to the UK to find work before later switching to another visa type.

Global business mobility visa for US citizens

The Global Business Mobility visa allows American citizens working in the UK to fulfil a temporary work assignment on behalf of their US employer. There are 5 visas under this scheme catering for different situations:

  • Senior or Specialist Worker – allows a US national to come to the UK to work in an eligible job at their US employer’s UK branch for up to 5 years
  • Graduate Trainee - allows a US national on a graduate training programme with their US employer to work for a UK branch for up to 12 months
  • UK Expansion Worker – allows a US citizen to come to the UK for up to 12 months with the express purpose of establishing a branch of a US business
  • Service Supplier – allows a US national to come to the UK to provide services as part of a contract to a UK company, either as an employee of a US company or self-employed professional based in the US
  • Secondment Worker – allows a US national to come to the UK to fulfill part of a high-value contract for another organisation on behalf of their US employer.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

Reiss Edwards specialises in all aspects of immigration for US nationals seeking to come to the UK to work or establish a business here. Our immigration lawyers and solicitor can:

  • Advise on all aspects of UK work visas for US citizens and applying for a UK work visa
  • Handle the end-to-end application process for your chosen visa
  • Handle the refusal of a UK work visas
  • Handle the application process to bring your child and partner to the UK to join you
  • Deal with the Home Office regarding any immigration matter.

Reference:

1 GOV.UK: Register of licensed sponsors: workers

2 GOV.UK: Skilled Worker visa: eligible occupations

3 GOV.UK: Skilled Worker visa: going rates for eligible occupations

4 GOV.UK: Register of licensed sponsors: workers

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