Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes (Part 1)

Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes allow overseas nationals to work in the UK.

There are five worker routes and seven temporary worker routes.


Worker Routes

These routes are for long-term workers.

  1. Skilled Worker (formerly known as Tier 2 (General))

Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes
Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes

This route allows UK employers to employ people to work in the UK in a specific job. When applying, the worker will need to have a job offer from the employer. The Home Office calls these Employers as Sponsor. Also, this job offer will need to be in the eligible skilled occupation. In addition to the above, their salary will need to be at the appropriate rate or meet the ‘going rate’ requirements. You can check these rates here.

  1. Intra-Company

There two Intra-Company transfer routes. For both routes, the prospective employee will need to apply to work in the eligible skilled occupation. Also, as with the Skilled Worker route, the salary will need to be at the appropriate rate. Alternatively, it needs to meet the ‘going rate’ requirements.

Intra-Company Transfer route is generally for senior workers, who are transferred from their mother-company from overseas to work in the UK.

  1. Intra-Company Graduate Trainee

This route is more suitable for less experienced employees of the overseas company, who are on a mission to undertake a role in the UK with a linked business as part of a structured graduate training programme.

  1. T2 Minister

This route is for someone with a key leading role in a faith-based organisation or a religious order in the UK.

  1. T2 Sportsperson

The final worker route is for elite sportspersons or qualified coaches who will make a significant contribution to the development of sport at the highest level in the UK. All T2 Sportspersons will need to have an endorsement from the appropriate Sports Governing Body. You can get the link to a list of these organisations here.


Temporary Worker Routes

These routes are for short-term workers. According to the UKVI’s guidance, these routes will allow the employers to help satisfy cultural, charitable, religious or international objectives. It includes volunteering and job shadowing, and for meeting seasonal employment needs in the edible horticultural sector.

  1. Seasonal Worker

Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes
Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes

Maybe you are like me and are curious about what the horticultural sector includes. It is a sector, which covers the production, processing and shipping of and the market for fruits and vegetables.

The UK wants to increase the value and the volume of home-produced fruits and vegetables. Therefore, they created this temporary worker route. If you would like to check the horticultural sector statistics, you can check it here:

  1. Charity Worker

This route is for volunteers wishing to work in a charitable organisation for up to 12 months. If you would like to check if your favourite charitable organisation you can get this information here.

  1. Creative or Sporting Worker

The route is for someone to make a unique contribution to the UK’s cultural or sports life. This route may be suitable for artists, dancers, musicians or entertainers. Alternatively, you can come as a model contributing to the UK’s fashion industry. If you would like to apply in this category, you can come for up to 12 months. However, when in the UK, you can later apply to extend your stay. You can remain in this category for a maximum period of 24 months.

  1. Government Authorised Exchange Worker

This route is for workers in the Government approved schemes. You can get a list of these schemes here.  As with Creative and Sporting route, it is generally for up to 12 months. However, there is a possibility to extend your visa for up to 24 months.

  1. International Agreement Worker

This visa type is for a person who wants to come to the UK to provide a service covered under international law. For example, this may income private servants in diplomatic households, employees of overseas governments and international organisations. It also applies to those who work under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). There may be other agreements under which the UK has commitments. The workers can remain in the UK between 6 months and two years, depending on the international agreement.

  1. Religious Worker

Another route in this category is identical to the one in the Worker route. However, unlike the Worker route applicants, the Temporary workers can only remain the UK for up to two years. Also, you cannot apply under this route if you intend to work as a minister of religion.

  1. Youth Mobility Scheme

Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes
Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes

It is the final route in this category. It is for young people from 18 to 30 from participating countries and territories. For those who wish to have fun in the UK and have the ability to work too.

Notably, the scheme works on a reciprocal basis, and British citizens can travel to and work in participating countries under similar schemes.

Only nationals of certain countries can come to the UK on the Youth Mobility Scheme. You can get the list of participating countries here.

When you are applying under the Youth Mobility Scheme, you don’t need to get a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK employer. If you have a Youth Mobility Scheme visa – you can work at any place. The only exceptions are if you want to work as a professional sportsperson or coach, or as a doctor or dentist in training (where they qualified overseas). In this case, you’ll need to apply as a Skilled Worker or as a Temporary worker.


Who Can Apply?

Both EEA and non-EEA nationals will have an opportunity to apply under these routes. They come into force on 1 December 2020. However, the EEA nationals will only need to apply if they intend to enter the UK after 11 pm on 31 December 2020. It is when the Brexit transition period ends.

The employers don’t need to issue Certificates of Sponsors to the EEA citizens as long as they arrived in the UK before 31 December 2020. There is one condition attached to it. Those EEA citizens who came to the UK before 31 December 2020 will need to apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021. The Home Office needs to grant this application.

Those EEA citizens who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020 will need to get a Certificate of Sponsorship from their prospective employers before they can start working in the UK.


Irish Citizens

It is important to note that the above rules don’t apply to Irish citizens neither before nor after 31 December 2020. It is due to the unique nature of the relationship which the UK and Ireland have. With some minor exceptions, generally Irish citizens can work in the UK freely, without a Certificate of Sponsorship, even if they arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020.


What if You are Already in the UK under the Old Tier 2 or Tier 5 Route?

If your employer’s license has not expired and the Home Office did not revoke it – you don’t need to do anything. After 1 December 2020, your visa will miraculously acquire the new name and new characteristics in accordance with this table:


Before 1 December 2020 From 1 December 2020
Tier 2 Worker
Tier 2 (General) Skilled Worker
Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Intra-Company routes
Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) T2 Minister of Religion
Tier 2 (Sportsperson) T2 Sportsperson
Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Temporary Worker
Charity Workers Charity Worker
Creative and Sporting Creative or Sporting Worker
Government Authorised Exchange Government Authorised Exchange


International Agreement International Agreement Worker
Religious Workers Religious Worker
Seasonal Worker Seasonal Worker
Tier 5 Youth Mobility Youth Mobility Scheme



How Can Employers Employ You?

Employers who want to employ workers from overseas will need to get a license from the Home Office.

With this license, employers get a number of duties. However, they all come down to only two main key principals: fulfilling a genuine vacancy and not abusing the immigration system.


How Does the Sponsor’s Licensing Work?

When Sponsors apply, they need to:

  1. Appoint an authorising office to manage the application and nominate a ‘level 1 user.’
  2. Decide on how many people they wish to employ in the first year
  3. complete the online application form; submit it together with
  4. the supporting documents;
  5. pay the fee. The amount the employers pay will depend on
    1. the type of the license they are applying for;
    2. the size of the organisation;
    3. whether it has charitable status


How does the Home Office Consider Sponsor License Applications?

Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes
Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes

After getting Sponsor License applications, the Sponsor will go through a specific consideration process.

In addition to meeting certain requirements, there are four main factors, which the Home Office considers.

  1. First of all, they’ll want to establish if the employer is a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK

  2. Secondly that the Employer is honest, dependable, reliable, and is not engaging and has not engaged in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good. When considering this factor, they take into consideration:

        • the company’s history and background
        • additionally, they’ll do checks on the key personnel named in the application, and any people involved in a day-to-day running of the company

3.  Thirdly, that the organisation is capable of carrying out its sponsor duties and evidencing its compliance in a specified timeframe and manner. When assessing this factor, the Home Office takes into consideration:

        • the company’s current human resources
        • its recruitment practices
        • the Home Office representatives may also visit the office before the licence is granted
  1. Fourthly, that the Sponsor can offer genuine employment that meets the skill level and salary requirements, if applying under Skilled Worker or the Intra-Company routes.



When License is Granted

When a license application is successful, it is granted for four years. The employers will need to apply for renewal before the four years has expired if they want to continue sponsoring the worker.

When the Home Office grants the application, they put the employer on the Register of Sponsors, and they get access to the sponsorship management system.  With the help of this system, the Sponsor will be issuing the Certificates of Sponsorship in future. You can get access to the Register of Sponsors here.

It is important to note that the Sponsors will need to contact the Home Office if their overseas workers don’t turn up for work or absent without permission for a significant period of time. They also need to keep a copy of your biometric residence permit and your up-to-date contact details.


Keeping the License

In conclusion, you need to know that the Home Office will continually monitor the Sponsors. It is to ensure that they comply with their duties. For instance, they will also make regular checks with HMRC to ensure that the Sponsors are paying salaries at the agreed rate.

The Home Office can also set a limit on the number of CoS the Sponsors can assign. Additionally, they may visit the Sponsor’s business premised to ensure that they are complying with their duties.  If not – they can:

  1. downgrade the Sponsors from A rating to B rating
  2. reduce the number of Certificates of Sponsorship the Sponsors can assign
  3. suspend the licence for further investigation
  4. revoke the license after further investigation
  5. report the Sponsor to the police
  6. contact other relevant authorities
Worker and Temporary Worker UK Immigration Routes