Visa options for the UK

by Amelia M.

Looking to move to the UK or work during your OE or Gap year? If you come from outside the EU, chances are that you will need a visa.
Take a look at our comprehensive visa guide below to get an idea of your visa options for the UK.

Young people walking across westminster bridge in London with big ben and red bus in background

Apply for a UK working holiday visa

A working holiday visa, or a Tier 5 Youth mobility visa, is a short-term residency and work permit. It is a reciprocal agreement between the UK and certain other countries to allow young people to live and work globally.

Check the list here to see if your country is eligible.

If successful, you will be granted a residency permit for 2 years, during which time you can live and work in the UK. These are fairly straightforward to apply for, just make sure to have all the documents exactly as listed.

Your local British Embassy will be able to help with any specific questions you may have.

Do I have any other visa options for the UK?

If you are the child or grandchild of someone born in the UK or Northern Ireland and you come from a commonwealth country, you may be eligible for an Ancestry Visa.

An Ancestry Visa will give you 5 years to live and work in the UK. But keep in mind that they can be a more expensive option in terms of fees and the money you need to pay for healthcare.

We have heard of some candidates applying for the Youth Mobility Visa to begin with and then apply for the Ancestry Visa during a short visit home, if they want to stay longer.

What if I have an EU or British passport?

You lucky thing! If you have an EU passport, you can move to any EU country just by registering your arrival at the local foreigners office. The procedure in each country differs, so make sure to check the local immigration office.

The British government has said that it will still allow free movement for EU citizens until at least December 2020. EU citizens will not need a visa until after this time.

The government has a handy calculator to help with this. You can also find more information about applying for settlement here.  

Young woman standing in an airport and holding an EU red passport and doing thumbs up as she travels to the UK

However, in the unlikely case of a “No Deal Brexit”, this transition period would not apply. EU citizens who arrive in the UK after the 29th of March 2019 will need a visa.

We will keep this post updated with alternative visa options as more information is provided from the UK government. Make sure to check with your local British Embassy too.

I have a student visa for study at a British University. Can I work while studying in the UK?

Yes, but there are limitations. You can work full time during university holidays, but only 20 hours per week during the semester.

If you study during the morning or early afternoon, or your classes are flexible, then being an Au Pair or Nanny can be a great way to reduce your living costs (if you live in), while also allowing you to earn money.

After school nannies are particularly in demand for 15-20 hours per week, with extra hours during school holidays.

I am moving to the UK on a family visa. Can I work as an Au Pair or Nanny?

A big part of the Au Pair programme is that you live with the family that you assist as part of a cultural exchange. It is not a job.

In these cases, we suggest looking at Nanny positions. You will be registered as an employee and pay tax, as well as contributing to National Insurance.

If you have enough previous experience, then you would be able to live out with your family member, while also working for a private family.

If you do not have previous experience, consider taking a childcare course to increase your employability.

I already work for a family and they are visiting the UK for a couple of months. Can I go too?

If none of the other UK visa options apply to you, you can apply for a special visitor visa. This will allow you to work for your employer for up to 6 months while they are visiting the UK.

Your employer cannot be moving to the UK permanently and you must have worked for them for at least 12 months.

See full details on the UK government’s immigration website.

I don’t fit the requirements above. Do I have any other visa options to come to the UK?

Heavenly are not visa experts so there may be something we have missed. We would recommend contacting your local British Embassy to hear about options for your specific country.

blond young woman choosing where to go on a globe

If you do not fall under any of these categories, consider looking in to other countries, where a visa is available, such as Germany or France. Heavenly also helps to find Au Pair families in other countries, so do get in touch to hear more.