The UK is one of the most favoured destinations in the world when it comes to inward migration. This may not be all that surprising as it’s one of the top half-dozen world economies. Sometimes, contractors may find it difficult to find a position in their own country and may be attracted by the strength of their relevant profession in the UK. What do these contractors need to do in order to secure a contract?
In brief, you will find that there are three different work permits issued by the UK government, but in the case of an overseas contractor the one that you’re more likely to be interested in is the Tier 2. This is known as “sponsored migration,” but was formerly known as simply a work permit. Within the Tier 2 legislation there are different categories, but here again the one that’s most appropriate to the contractor is the “general” clause. If you’re skilled in telecommunications, engineering, finance or IT and have your eyes on the UK then you should consider how Tier 2 could work for you.
The fundamental consideration here is that in order to qualify for a visa under this particular legislation you must find an employer who is willing to sponsor you. In other words, you have to be quite specific as the visa, once it’s issued, is not automatically transferable. We say automatically, because there are circumstances where you can “swap” out for a new sponsor, but to start off with you must work with an eligible organisation. Not every employer is eligible to sponsor you. The company has to have an appropriate license before it can enter the field and start looking for overseas contractors. Note that due to the shortage of skills in many labour markets many organisations find that it’s to their benefit to sign up for this license. You simply have to ensure that you know how to find them.
Legislation associated with getting a visa can be confusing, to say the least. Therefore it’s generally well worth the time and effort for the overseas contractor to seek out an organisation that provides first-class professional representation to handle all these affairs. The intermediary organisation would know where to look to find employers that are a good match, will know what paperwork is necessary and will help you to gather and submit all the details.
In 2011 the government limited the number of visas available and the Tier 2 visa for overseas contractors has a maximum cap of 20,700 per year. It’s important to note here as well, however, that if you earn more than the equivalent of £150,000 per year then this cap may not apply to you.
Essentially, once you’ve found an employer who’s willing to sponsor you then you must fill out an application. You have to “qualify” with a minimum of 70 points based as follows:
50 points for attributes and 10 points for English language and 10 points for maintenance.
By this definition, maintenance refers to a minimum amount of money present in your personal savings account for a minimum of three months prior to application. This could be overlooked if a qualified licensed sponsor is willing to maintain and accommodate you until at least the end of your first month of employment.