Your rights to working in the UK

So you want to work in the UK, but you have no idea where to start…

Whether you’ve never worked in the UK before, or you’re a foreign national and don’t know if you’re currently eligible to – it can be a challenge to find the right information. Particularly since the UK left the EU. 

To keep you clued up with the facts, here’s some more info on your rights to working in the UK:


Am I eligible to work in the UK?

You are currently eligible to work in the UK, and therefore don’t need to obtain an employment visa, if any of the following apply:


  1. You are a British citizen
  2. You are an European Economic Area (EEA) citizen – see list below – who worked in the UK before 31st Dec 2020


EEA countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.


     3. You are a Swiss national who worked in the UK before31st Dec 2020 

If option 2 or 3 applies to you, you’ll need to apply for
settled status in the UK before 30th June 2021 in order to avoid any potential issues when it comes to your employment.

For more information related to EU, EEA and Commonwealth citizens and your rights to working in the UK, please visit:


What if I don’t have the right to work in the UK?

If one of the parameters above does not apply, or you’re not from one of the countries listed, you may still be able to work in the UK. However, you will need to obtain a visa before finding employment in the UK.



A new points-based immigration system has been introduced in the UK, which aims to attract skilled workers who can contribute to the UK’s economy. 

We’ve already covered the most common UK work visas, but here are some of the visas you may be eligible to apply for:


Skilled worker visa – This visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa. In order to apply for this visa you must work for a Home Office approved employer, have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer, and do a job that’s on the list of eligible employers. 

For more information about whether you’re eligible for a skilled worker visa please visit:


Health and Care Worker visa – This type of visa allows qualified health care professionals (such as doctors and nurses) to come to the UK to help support the NHS. Certain health and care workers will also be eligible. In order to apply for this visa you must also have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer.

For more information about whether you’re eligible for a skilled worker visa please visit:


Global talent scheme – The global talent scheme is aimed at highly-skilled scientists and researchers and allows them to come to the UK without a job offer. 


Graduate immigration – If you’re a foreign national completing a degree in the UK from summer 2021, you may be able to work in the UK at any ability level for up to two years (or three years if you’ve earned a PHD). More information on this visa will be available closer to the time.

You may be able to apply for these visas online, or at an overseas visa application centre. However, this will depend on your country of residence.

For a full list of the visas available to you please visit:

UK work visa guide


Do I need to be sponsored to apply for a visa?

In order to apply for most work visas, you’ll usually need to gain a job offer with sponsorship from an employer in the UK first.

This employer must also be approved by the Home Office and be on itsr list of eligible employers.


What jobs am I eligible for?

This will depend on the individual employer, the type of role, and your relevant skills and experience.

Whilst some organisations have a licence to sponsor temporary and/or permanent employees to allow them to work at their business, not all of them will be able to do this.

To find out whether the job is something you’d be eligible for, check the job description – or get in touch with the employer directly.

View all jobs with sponsorship eligibility




*Please note, the information outlined above is correct as of February 2021, but is subject to change. It is intended for general guidance purposes only. 

For more detailed information about your rights to working in the UK, please visit:


13 comments on “Your rights to working in the UK

  1. Lucky Dzamikumah - September 12, 2016 at 21:26

    I am a Ghanaian, please do I have to obtain both Visa and Work permit before finding employment in the UK, and how do I obtain it? I currently got job in the UK but because I don’t have the right to work document the job was denied me. Please I need your reply badly.

    1. Michael Cheary - September 13, 2016 at 09:07

      Hi there,

      Unfortunately, we can’t help candidates secure visas or work permits to find work in the UK. The best thing to do is to speak to the British embassy in your country, who should be able to advise you on your next steps.

      Hope this helps, and best of luck with your job search.

      Best wishes,

  2. Basilio Celli - October 22, 2016 at 19:19

    Hi all, my mother is Italian citizen and i’ve got “Residence card of a family member of a union citizen” so i can legally work in UK, but on Site is written ” you’re not eligible ot work in UK” yes till some time ago i was not eligible, but now i am, how can i change it on site? any tip or advice?

    1. Michael Cheary - October 24, 2016 at 08:19

      Hi Basilio,

      If you send your details over to, we’ll ask a member of the team to look into this ASAP.

      Best wishes,

  3. Matthew Anctil - January 7, 2017 at 10:17

    I am a US citizen here in the UK on a Tier 4 dependent visa. my residence permit card says that i have “restricted work” and jobs posted by reed say that the jobs are available only to people with the right to work in the UK and wont let me aply

    1. Michael Cheary - January 9, 2017 at 09:52

      Hi Matthew,

      Are you able to send your details over to, so we can ask someone to look into this?

      Best wishes,

      1. shadman ahmed - August 1, 2017 at 02:11

        Hi, I have the same problem mentioned here. Can I send my details?

        1. Michael Cheary - August 1, 2017 at 07:48

          Absolutely Shadman. Send them over and we’ll do our best to help.

          Many thanks,

  4. Chriswin - May 9, 2017 at 08:45

    Hi there
    I uploaded my resume for an international position post and received a message that I am not eligible to apply for the post. Yet the advertisement says I can apply to obtain sponsorship for a visa as they are looking for international applicants too.
    Why am I receiving this message and why am I being blocked to apply for the post?

    1. Michael Cheary - May 9, 2017 at 09:03

      Hi Chris,

      Are you able to send more details to, so we can look into it?

      Many thanks,

  5. Canesia Amarysti - August 1, 2017 at 12:51

    Hi, is there a way to filter jobs that DO accept internationals or are considering sponsorhip?
    I search for jobs with my criteria, getting a list of them then only to find that only 1 out of 5 I’m eligible for due to the rest not willing to hire internationals

    1. Michael Cheary - August 1, 2017 at 13:12

      Hi Canesia,

      There isn’t currently an option to do this on the site – but we’ll raise it with our tech team to see if it’s something we can look into. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

      Best wishes,
      The team

      1. Ken Randall - October 23, 2017 at 06:10

        Yes, I gave the same feedback a little while ago in response to a questionnaire. Such an filter would be a big help.