UK visas and migration

There are a range of visas available to investors and those looking to set up in the UK and we have one of the most attractive and competitive visa services in the world. We will always welcome those with the skills and expertise to contribute to our nation who want to do business and invest in the UK.

Last updated 30 October 2019

Brexit: what’s changed

Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens if the UK leaves the EU with a deal

There will be no change to the right to work of EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving in the UK before 1 January 2021 if the UK leaves the EU with a deal. Those arriving in the UK by 31 December 2020 will have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to ensure they continue to have lawful status in the UK. There is no application fee.

Those arriving in the UK on or after 1 January 2021 will need to apply to the Home Office for status under the new immigration system, which is outlined below.

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Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who enter the UK before the UK leaves the EU will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to live and work in the UK. The application deadline will be 31 December 2020 and there is no application fee.

After the UK leaves the EU, the free movement of people will end but there will be a transition period until 1 January 2021. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving for the first time in the UK during this period will be able to work for 3 months or less at a time without needing to apply for status.

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving during this period who want to live and work in the UK for longer than 3 months will need to apply for European temporary leave to remain. They’ll then be able to live and work in the UK for 36 months from the date their leave is granted.

If they want to stay in the UK for more than 36 months, they will need to apply for an immigration status under the new immigration system, which will come into effect from 1 January 2021. Those who do not qualify will need to leave the UK when their European temporary leave to remain expires.

Irish citizens will continue to have the right to work in the UK under Common Travel Area arrangements.

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What employers of EU citizens need to do until 1 January 2021

You can get detailed guidance on employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens after we leave the EU.

You should continue to conduct right to work checks on all prospective employees.

You can find out how to carry out right to work checks, why you need to do them, and which documents you can use in the right to work checks employer’s guide.

Check an applicant’s right to work

New guidance on how to carry out right to work checks from 1 January 2021 will be issued in due course.

Until then employers do not need to check that new EEA and Swiss employees have status under the EU Settlement Scheme or European temporary leave to remain or differentiate between those who arrived before or after the UK left the EU.

Employers will not need to retrospectively check the status of EU, EEA or Swiss employees or their family members who began employment before 1 January 2021.

You can share information with your employees about the EU Settlement Scheme using our toolkit.

Non-EU citizens with a right to work in the UK

Brexit does not affect the status of non-EU nationals who already have a right to work in the UK.

Non-EU citizens coming to the UK to work, study or invest

If you’re a non-EU national and you’re not a dependant of an EU citizen, you need to apply to come to the UK to study, work, visit or join family.

You can work in the UK on a short or long-term basis with a visa.

There are many types of work visa. The visa you need depends on:

  • your skills and qualifications
  • if you have a job offer and sponsorship
  • if you want to bring your family with you
  • what you’ll be doing - for example sporting, charitable or religious work

You can also invest money in the UK with an investor visa. You can set up a business with a start-up visa or innovator visa.

Use our visas and immigration tool to check if you need a visa.

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Immigration to the UK from 1 January 2021

The future skills-based immigration system white paper sets out the government’s plans to introduce a new single immigration system from 1 January 2021.

We will build on our Immigration white paper by learning from the Australian Points-Based System. The Home Secretary will commission the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to examine this.

Engagement with businesses, employers and other stakeholders across the UK is underway. The system will include: a single immigration system for all nationalities, focused on talent and skills a new skilled workers route open to all nationalities with no cap on numbers, no requirement for businesses employing high skilled workers to undertake a resident labour market test and a streamlined sponsorship system for businesses. There will be a minimum salary threshold * a new time-limited route for temporary short-term workers from low-risk nationalities of all skill levels with no cap on numbers or sponsor requirements. There will be conditions, including a cooling-off period, to prevent this route being used for long-term working • Irish citizens will continue to have the right to live and work in the UK under Common Travel Area arrangements

Visitors from the EU, EEA or Switzerland will be able to come to the UK for 6 months, including tourists and business visitors.

Individuals will be able to get proof of their status through a Home Office online service. This will show their rights in the UK.

Explore the topic

Employing EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members after Brexit

EU Settlement Scheme: a guide for employers

Visas for entrepreneurs and investors

Employing people in the UK

The UK’s future skills-based immigration system: engagement programme