These guidelines are intended for US citizens wishing to work in the United Kingdom.
Employment Requiring Work PermitsBefore entering Britain to take up employment, American citizens must have a work permit. The UK Border Agency administers the Work Permit Scheme. Exceptions are made only for the categories of permit-free employment outlined below.
Application for the work permit must be made by the prospective employer in Britain. Individuals cannot apply for a work permit on their own behalf. Applications must be made by the Britain-based employer.
The UK Border Agency website provides application forms and guidance on the work permits program.
Additional information is available from:
UK Border Agency
UK Border Agency
Customer Contact Centre
Managed Migration Directorate
PO Box 3468
Phone: 0114 207 4074
Fax: 0114 207 4000
Work Permits for Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel IslandsFor permits to work in Northern Ireland, contact:
Department of Employment and Learning
Work Permits Unit
Tel: 28 9025 7505
Fax: 28 9025 7545
For permits to work in the Isle of Man, contact:
Overseas Labor Section
Department of Industry
31 Prospect Hill
Isle of Man
Tel: +44 1624 687025
Fax: +44 1624 685682
For permits to work in Jersey, contact:
Chief Inspector of Immigration
Immigration and Nationality Department
La Route du Port Elizabeth
Tel: +44 1534 838838
Fax: +44 1534 838839
Arrival in Britain
If permission to work is granted, the Employment Department will issue the work permit to the employer, who will then forward it to the employee overseas. On arrival in Britain, the employee is required to present the permit for the inspection of immigration officials. US nationals holding work permits for longer than six months will require prior entry clearance. The employee's spouse and/or dependent children under the age of 18 must also obtain entry clearance prior to departure.
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All US permit-holders who will be staying in Britain for longer than three months are required to register with the local police after their arrival. Further information on registration with the police is available on the Immigration and Nationality Directorate website.
Since a work permit is issued for a specific job with a particular employer, any holder of a work permit who wishes to change jobs will again require the consent of work permits (UK).
Permit-free EmploymentThere are certain categories of employment which allow people to enter Britain without having a work permit. Individuals seeking permit-free employment are advised that they will also have to meet any entry clearance (visa) regulations that may apply. Information on visa requirements for permit-free employment can be found on the British Consulate Visa Section.
Highly Skilled Migrant Program (HSMP)The Highly Skilled Migrant Program is a program designed to allow individuals with exceptional personal skills and experience to come to the United Kingdom to seek and take work.
StudentsStudents on a course of study in the UK maybe entitled to work part-time. Information on the regulations regarding student employment is available from the British Council.
Blue Card PermitsTemporary work in the United Kingdom is available to US students under the provisions of a program administered by the British Universities North America Club (BUNAC) and approved by the British government. Prospective participants should apply to BUNAC for a Blue Card, which will permit them to enter Britain and undertake employment for a period of up to six months.
The Blue Card is only required if:
- a student will be in Britain for a significant period of time, e.g., six months, or
- as a US citizen, a student is planning to work in Britain, but not study there.
Applicants must be American citizens of at least 18 years of age, engaged in full-time study at an accredited American college or university. Students must obtain a Blue Card prior to leaving the United States.
For detailed information on the Blue Card, contact BUNAC:
PO BOX 430
Southbury, CT 06488
Tel: (203) 264-0901
Fax: (203) 264-0251
TravelTravel information is available from:
551 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10176
Tel: (800) 462 2748
VisitBritain maintains a free advisory service for visitors to Britain but does not make bookings.
We hope this answered your inquiry. If not, contact us using the email form and we will answer your question within 20 days.