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Moving To The UK For Work (After Brexit)

Due to Brexit, the days of mainland Europeans and Brits moving to work freely in each other's countries are sadly over. However, this doesn't mean you have to give up on your dream of living and working in the UK! In fact, it may be easier than you think to get a job in Britain today. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the information and steps you need to know…

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What you will learn:


Why should I work in the UK?

The UK has one of the world’s biggest economies, with a rich history of innovation and industry. There are many opportunities to develop your career here, earn a good salary and enjoy day-to-day life in an English-speaking culture.

Ironically, Brexit has left Britain in a worse situation in terms of our labour market. Covid has not helped either. There are currently staff shortages across many professions and local Brits may be underqualified or unwilling to take up these roles. The UK economy will always need skilled professionals from the EU and other parts of the world – that’s the reality.

Due to the shortage of workers, UK employers are starting to increase wages – especially for skilled workers. So now is arguably one of the best times for you to move to the UK and find a job!

How can I get a visa to work in the UK?

Before Brexit, of course, having an EU passport was enough to evidence your right to work in the UK. It isn’t quite that simple any more, though.

Starting from 1st January 2021, EU citizens who don’t already live in the UK require an appropriate visa. Therefore, if you are an EU citizen, you are going to have to do some paperwork before moving here.

There are a few options for you:

1. Skilled Workers Visa

The best option (if you qualify) is to secure a skilled workers visa.

Qualification for a skilled workers visa is determined by a points-based system. To get a skilled workers visa, you need to:

  • Be able to speak English to an acceptable standard
  • Have experience in a highly-skilled job
  • Find an employer who will sponsor your visa application
  • Prove that you can support yourself in the UK for up to one month (by showing that you have a minimum of £1,270 in your bank account – or evidence that your new employer can pay for you)

The price of a skilled worker visa is currently £610, plus a £624 annual NHS healthcare surcharge.

A skilled worker is considered to be a worker in a job of level RQF3 or above (which is the equivalent of an International Baccalaureate qualification, or ‘A-Level’ here in the UK). Any work below this level is not compatible with the skilled workers visa.

A few examples of “skilled worker jobs” include:

  • Civil engineers
  • Doctors
  • Psychologists
  • Dentists
  • Scientists

Click here to see the full list of occupations considered for the skilled workers visa for the UK.

2. Shortage Occupations

If you don’t have experience as a skilled worker, then you might consider work within one of the current “shortage occupations” in the UK.

  • These jobs include:
  • Care workers
  • Health service workers
  • Web designers
  • Musicians and Artists (usually classically trained)
  • Welding trades

There are two separate lists of jobs that are currently “shortage occupations”:

List 1: Shortage Occupations UK 

List 2: Shortage Occupations UK

If you have experience in any of these listed jobs, then there is a very good chance you can successfully apply for a UK work visa.

Of course, you will still have to undergo the usual visa application process:

  1. Secure a UK-based job and prove that you have this offer of work
  2. Evidence that you can financially support yourself in the UK for up to one month
  3. Speak a good level of English

Note that “shortage occupations” change over time, depending on the needs of the economy. Therefore, it’s a good idea for you to regularly check the above lists to see if there are job opportunities in your professional niche.

3. Marry a British citizen

If you have “a special someone” and the two of you get married, then you just need to prove that you can afford to live here together. After that, you can apply for a family visa – which can lead to British citizenship after 3 years of living in the UK (note that this is usually 5 years for non-EU citizens).

For more information on this, check out the citizen’s advice website.

How can I find a job in the UK?

There are several ways to find jobs in the UK, even if you aren’t here yet!

1. Recruitment websites

There are some excellent resources online for finding UK-based jobs. These offer large databases of current job vacancies in the UK. Many also allow you to upload your CV so that potential employers can contact you directly.

Among the best recruitment websites are:

We also recommend doing regular job searches on social media. You can join Facebook job groups and use LinkedIn to seek out interesting career opportunities.

2. Company websites

Another way to find a UK job is to go directly to the websites of companies you want to work for.

Quite often, such businesses will have a page on their website dedicated to ‘Vacancies’, ‘Careers’, ‘Jobs’, or ‘Work For Us’. Make sure you monitor these pages regularly so you can apply for vacancies before their deadlines.

If you work in healthcare, there may be opportunities for you within the National Health Service (NHS). You can google “NHS vacancies” for job descriptions, locations, salary bands etc.

3. Contact businesses directly

If you happen to be in the UK (e.g. on holiday), then you can visit companies in person to see if they have any job openings. Showing initiative and being proactive in your job search could demonstrated to an employer your drive and enthusiasm to work in the UK. It doesn’t hurt to try!

Alternatively, you can try calling or emailing companies that do not have any vacancies currently listed on their websites. If you explain about your skills and experience, they may have a suitable opening for you somewhere within the business. As we say: He who doesn’t ask, doesn’t get.

Living in the UK (practicalities)

How to get a UK bank account

One of the first things you’ll need to do is find a place to live – or, at least, get an address. Without an address, it can be very difficult to open a UK bank account and receive a UK bank card.

How to get a UK bank account

There are ways to open a UK bank account without a card, though. For example, you can receive GBP using the website or app, Revolut, and other such online banks.

However, to get a traditional bank account in the UK, you will need to have proof of a UK address.

Once you have this, you can walk straight into any UK bank (with proof of address and your passport) and open an account on the day. It’s easy to do.

How to get proof of a UK address

Proof of address is usually a document with your name and address clearly written on it. For example, this could be a utility bill (water, gas, electricity, internet) or a council tax bill. Ideally, you will already have a home lined up for when you move to the UK, so such a document won’t be hard to get.

If you don’t have a house lined up yet, then it’s worth starting to plan your UK accommodation in advance. Popular websites for finding a home to rent in the UK are:

Alternatively, your employer might be able to help you set up a temporary address when you move over here. If you are having difficulties, your employer should at least be able to provide advice.

How to access healthcare in the UK

As we mentioned earlier, it is a requirement of your visa that you pay for healthcare each year. Once you pay this surcharge, you will have full access to the NHS. If you later become a British citizen, healthcare via the NHS will be free of charge – this is covered by a tax called National Insurance (which also contributes towards your basic UK state pension).

When you arrive in the UK, you should contact your local surgery (healthcare clinic) to register with a GP (General Practitioner, doctor). To register you will need to complete a form, provide photo ID, proof of a UK address and evidence that you have paid the NHS surcharge. Don’t go to a hospital as these only receive emergency patients and those referred in advance by GPs.

English Language Requirements

Minimum Requirement

You must be able to prove that you can read, write, speak, and understand English to the specified level.

According to the UK Government website, the minimum requirement is level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) scale.

To prove this, you have to pass a test from an approved examining board (e.g. Cambridge).

Professional Requirement

Of course, some highly-skilled jobs (such as doctor, nurse, lawyer) will require higher levels of English. For example, doctors need to have the equivalent of an IELTS band 7.0 in order to be officially registered as a UK doctor.

If you don’t achieve IELTS band 7.0 or above, then you will not be accepted into many highly-skilled UK jobs. Make sure you check the requirements of the specific job you are applying for, but be aware that this is usually the requirement.

Understanding local UK English

Understanding British slang and informal language can be a challenge for some people, especially when first moving to the UK. Textbook English often differs greatly from the language used by Brits at work and in everyday life.

On top of this, regional accents in the UK can differ a lot from one town to the next. Manchester and Liverpool are only a one-hour train journey apart, but sometimes “Mancs” and “Scousers” can’t even understand each other’s accents!

No matter where you are moving in the UK, you will have to get used to the regional accents spoken in your new home city. Therefore, you might want to familiarise yourself with such accents before moving over here.

You can prepare for some of the realities of local British English by doing the following:

  • Take online lessons with a native British English teacher 6-12 months before you move
  • Regularly watch UK television programmes that use local British English in various situations (e.g. Gogglebox, East Enders, First Dates, Holly Oaks, Coronation Street, The Office)
  • Listen to local UK radio stations online (e.g. BBC Radio Sheffield…or whichever city)
  • Join Facebook community groups for the neighbourhood/city where you plan to live and see how people are using English there
  • Familiarise yourself with the various accents of English by watching videos on YouTube
Want to improve you English for life and work in the UK? We can help! Contact us today to request a 15-minute consultation to see how our experienced British tutors can help take your English to the next level. We offer business English, IELTS prep courses and language coaching to get you ready for real life in the UK.
Click here to download this post via our mobile website!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Written by Tom R. —
ESL Tutor
Written by Tom R. —
ESL Tutor