We have found the UK permanent market to be extremely strong at present with both existing and new clients coming to us to resource for SAP, Oracle and IT roles at all levels. As a result, we are receiving a very large amount of interest from professionals situated all over the world, many of whom are unsure about getting a UK visa and often need clarification, so here we explain the requirements.
European citizens – EU Settlement Scheme
If you are an EU citizen or a national of Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland or Switzerland working in the UK or looking to move to the UK, you will now require a residence and work permit. The EU Settlement Scheme is simple and easy to apply to, and will enable you to keep your EU rights in the UK and stay in the country after Brexit. Find out more in our blog UK work permits for Europeans – Latest Brexit updates.
Non-European citizens – Tier 2 UK visa
Up until 2014, SAP, Oracle and IT consultants looking to get a UK visa would apply for a Tier 1 Visa, but this is currently suspended to anyone outside of the UK. Therefore, in almost all circumstances, to acquire a UK visa for an SAP, Oracle or IT permanent role you will need to apply under Tier 2 of the UK visa Points Based System (PBS), which is a visa for migrants wishing to work in the UK who are from outside of European Union, European Economic Area or Switzerland.
Tier 2 can be broken down into a number of categories. The category of Tier 2 that skilled workers such as you must apply under, is called the ‘General’ category. This category is for foreign nationals who have been offered a skilled job to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker.
The earliest you can apply for a visa is three months before you’re due to start work. When issued a Tier 2 visa, you can stay in the UK for up to five years, depending on the period stated on your certificate. You can also extend your visa, as long as the total time does not exceed 6 years.
Eligibility to apply for a UK visa under Tier 2
To determine whether you are eligible for a UK visa comes down to whether you can accumulate enough points on the Point Based System.
The PBS awards points based on:
- Whether you have a valid sponsorship certificate from a UK employer.
- Whether you have an agreed salary for the permanent role in the UK over £20,000 per year
- Your English language skills – Points are awarded if you are a national from a majority English speaking country, you have a UK Bachelor degree-equivalent qualification (or above) that was taught in English or if you have passed an approved English language test. If you do not fulfil any of the criteria for English language skills, you will not be eligible to apply for a UK visa.
The prospects of sponsorship
The biggest barrier for IT professionals applying to SAP, Oracle and IT jobs in the UK is getting an employer to sponsor you through the application. This can be challenging as it requires some administrative work and the employer is required to wait for some time for the visa to be processed, as well as to pay an annual fee to the government. Some clients will agree to sponsor visa applications, but only if they can see the business sense in doing so – for example, if they can’t find a consultant with the necessary skills for the role within the economic area. From our experience, most clients are looking for candidates who already have a visa and less than 1% of all jobs advertised will specifically look to sponsor. It is always best to ask your recruiter if your potential employer is willing to sponsor you, as otherwise, you may be wasting a lot of time and effort. Find out more about the Tier 2 Visa.
The reality of getting a UK visa
Each year, the UK government decides on the number of foreign workers that can enter the UK under the Tier 2 General category. Currently, it is not easy to get a Tier 2 visa, however, there are some UK regulations that are changing and we believe might impact the market in a couple of years.
As immigration laws change for EU citizens due to Brexit, we believe there will be more opportunities for consultants from other countries. There have also been recent changes to the IR35 regulations which we believe might have an impact on how companies operate and we’ll see a shift in the workforce as consultants and clients decide whether they operate inside or outside of IR35.
Our advice – build up your CV as much as possible in geographical locations where you are already lawfully able to work or can easily get a permit, this could be for example, in the Middle East or in another European country. The more experience you have, the more valuable you become to an employer and hence, the more likely they will be to sponsor you through a visa. Always think of it from the employer’s perspective – does it make business sense for them to sponsor you through the process? You can also try working with a consultancy through an umbrella company or doing contract work, as the opportunities to get working permits for this type of work are usually higher.