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Top 7 Job Opportunities in the UK for Immigrants

6 minute read

By Chelsea Dolan

If you want to move to the UK for work, then you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the visa application process and the UK job market. The UK recently overhauled its immigration system. Now, those from EU countries no longer have an automatic right to work in the UK. Instead, everyone but Irish citizens needs to apply for a work visa.

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The UK has multiple types of work visas, which we’ll explain so you can find the right fit. We’ll also look at the top seven job opportunities for immigrants in the UK right now.

Points-Based Immigration System

The UK uses a point-based system for work visas.¹ Under this system, those who want to move to the UK for work need to meet a certain number of requirements. Points are awarded for each requirement/characteristic the person meets. For example, having a job offer from an approved employer is 20 points. To qualify for a visa, applicants must earn 70 points.
More examples of how points can be earned:

The job offer must be from an approved employer, at an appropriate skill level, and the applicant must speak English at the required level. Other requirements are tradeable. So, there is some flexibility in how the applicant reaches 70 points.

Shortage Occupations List

The Shortage Occupations List consists of skilled jobs the Migration Advisory Committee says have a shortage. If the job is on the list, then the UK thinks it’s sensible to use immigrant talent to help fill the gap.²

As a result, there is greater flexibility in how an applicant reaches the necessary 70 points. For example, occupations on the list have reduced salary requirements. Additionally, 20 points are awarded for jobs on the list. There are also lower application fees.

Nursing and Care Jobs

In the health and care sector, both nursing and care jobs are in demand. In fact, The Guardian says that thousands of nursing shifts can’t be filled every week because of the shortage. The source also says one in 10 nursing posts is unfilled on some wards.⁴

Similarly, the UK has a shortage of care workers. In fact, the UK needs care workers so much that they recently changed the Health and Care Worker visa requirements to allow care workers, care assistants, and home care workers to qualify for the visa. In short: nursing and care jobs are great opportunities for immigrants.

Developer Jobs

Hiring managers in the UK are struggling to recruit enough qualified developers. Indeed, demand is so high that the “most tech vacancies in 2021 were within software development,” according to ZDNet. The source says software developer job postings “grew 88.2% year on year.⁵

As a result, immigrants could help meet this demand. In fact, programmers and software development professionals are on the Shortage Occupations List as of March 2022. If you’re a developer who’s been thinking about immigrating to the UK, then this could be an opportune time.

Business Services Jobs

Business services is a broad sector with lots of opportunities. Companies require a variety of business services, including tech support, accounting, and project management. So, those interested in getting a Skilled Worker visa should see if their background suits any in-demand jobs in this wide-ranging field.

For example, demand is high enough for IT business analysts and cyber security specialists that both are on the Shortage Occupations List as of March 2022. That means this could be a good time for potential immigrants with those backgrounds to apply.

Contractor Jobs

If you’re interested in working as a contractor in the UK, then you’ll need to get the appropriate visa. Those who want to work a skilled job still need to get a Skilled Worker visa, even for contract and freelance jobs. Examples include coming to the UK as an IT, software development and engineering, or healthcare contractor — all of which are in-demand fields.

The UK does have Temporary Work visas that can be used in a few limited circumstances.⁶ They’re intended for charity workers, embassy and diplomatic workers, religious workers, those completing short-term research or training, and highly successful entertainers and athletes.

Teaching and Tutoring Jobs

On LinkedIn, there are more than 14,000 postings for online teaching jobs in the United Kingdom as of March 2022.⁷ Some of the positions are full-time teachers, while others are part-time tutors. Online tutoring could be a great way for international college students to earn extra money. Those with student visas can generally work 20 hours per week, but their university may have stricter work policies.⁸

If you’re a teacher who wants to work in the UK, then you should see if your background fits anything on the Shortage Occupations List. For instance, there are several jobs for teaching professionals on the list as of March 2022. In particular, there’s a need for secondary education teachers, including STEM teachers and foreign language teachers.

Skilled Worker Immigration Route

Many jobs that can be filled by visa holders fall under the Skilled Worker route. The UK uses Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes to classify occupations according to skill level. So, you’ll want to find your occupation code and see if it’s eligible for a Skilled Worker visa.

You can use the ONS occupation coding tool to find your job’s code.⁹ Then, you can consult the Skilled Worker table to see if the occupation is eligible for this route.¹⁰ Example professions include teachers and software developers.

Health and Care Worker Immigration Route

Instead of the Skilled Worker route, medical professionals and care workers have their own route. A Health and Care Worker visa is for workers who want to come to the UK for an eligible job with the NHS or in adult social care.

So, it’s intended for healthcare professionals like doctors and nurses or care workers. This route has a couple of benefits: a lower application fee than a Skilled Worker visa and an exemption from the immigration health surcharge (IHS).¹¹

Graduate Immigration Route

The Graduate route is another way for those who aren’t UK citizens to work in the UK. It allows international students who graduate to stay for two years while either working or looking for a job. Doctoral students are allowed to stay for three years.

During this time, those with a Graduate visa can work jobs at any skill level. Additionally, jobs don’t need to be from approved employers. While graduates can’t extend this type of visa, they can switch to a Skilled Worker visa if they find a suitable job.

Application and Documents

To apply for a visa, submit an application online, provide necessary documents, and pay the application fee and the immigration health surcharge (unless it’s waived). You can apply up to three months before your intended first day of employment in the UK. When you apply, you’ll be asked for the following information and documents:

Documentation That May Be Required

Additionally, you may be asked to prove your knowledge of English.¹² This step is waived for applicants from several countries, including Australia, Belize, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, and the United States.

You may be asked for additional documents and information depending on your situation. For instance, you may need to prove that you can support yourself financially. And some positions require a criminal record certificate.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of opportunities for immigrants in the UK job market. For instance, some fields face significant shortages, such as nursing and care jobs. Other fields like tech, business, and education also need more employees. Check the Shortage Occupations List to see if your profession is in demand.

Whether you want to work in the UK for a relatively short time or the rest of your career, a Skilled Worker visa or a Heath and Care Worker visa can help make that possible. If you’re approved for a work visa, then you can move to the UK and get to work. After you’ve been in the UK for five years with a work visa, you can apply for permanent residence.

Chelsea Dolan