Temporary Worker visa explained

Temporary Worker visas are available to different categories of temporary workers to enter and remain in the UK, generally for the purposes of temporary work but also (in some cases) to experience UK life and culture: 

  • Seasonal Worker. For work in short-term, seasonal roles in the horticulture or poultry industries.
  • Creative Worker. For workers in the creative industries such as actors, dancers, musicians, or a member of a film crew.
  • Religious Worker. For people wishing to do religious work in a non-pastoral role or a religious order.
  • Charity Worker. For people coming to the UK to do voluntary unpaid work for a recognised charity.
  • Youth Mobility. For young people (generally aged 18-30) from participating countries and territories, to come and experience life in the UK for up to two years.
  • India Young Professionals Scheme. For qualifying Indian citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 who wish to come and live in the UK for up to two years.
  • Government Authorised Exchange. For people participating in an approved scheme to share knowledge, experience, best practices, and explore the UK’s social and cultural life. This is typically for 12 months or 24 months depending on the scheme applied for.
  • International Agreement. For those who will be contracted to do work covered by international law or a treaty whilst in the UK, such as working for an overseas government, in a recognised international organisation, or as a private servant in a diplomatic household. This is typically for up to 24 months or the time given on the certificate of sponsorship, whichever is shorter.

Eligibility for a UK Work Visa: Temporary Workers 

Eligibility varies depending on the category of visa. However, there are some similarities:

  • Sponsorship. Usually, the applicant must have a job offer from a licensed sponsor employer in the UK, who will issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The reference number on the CoS will be needed to complete the visa application.
  • Maintenance funds. Most Temporary Worker visa applicants will need to show that they have a certain amount of savings (unless this requirements will be covered by their sponsoring employer).
  • No English language requirement. There is no need to demonstrate proficiency in speaking and understanding English for the Temporary Worker visa routes.
  • Minimum wage and working hours. Where applications are subject to Certificates of Sponsorship, the employing sponsor must ensure that the job pays at least the minimum wage and follows UK rules on working hours per week. If the employer does not do this, the application for a Temporary Worker visa will be refused.

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Temporary Worker visas FAQs

  • Can I get a visa for the UK before I have a job offer?

    Most Temporary Worker visas require the applicant to have a job offer from a licensed sponsor before they apply for their visa. The exceptions are the Youth Mobility and Indian Young Professionals visas.

  • How do I get a Temporary Worker visa for the UK?

    It can typically take around three weeks to process your application. UK immigration rules can change, and the precise steps and requirements may change so seek legal advice before applying. Normally the process is:
    • Secure a job offer from a UK employer that has been licensed to sponsor visas. Your sponsor will give you a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number.
    • Make an application online through the official UK government website. You will need your CoS reference number, bank statements (confirming availability of your maintenance funds) and any other information to show that you meet the eligibility requirements of your visa route.
    • Pay the appropriate Home Office application fee.
    • Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) (if you are applying to stay in the UK for more than six months)
    • After submission, provide your fingerprints and a photograph (“biometric information”) at a visa application centre in your country of residence.
    • Submit your passport (unless you pay the visa application centre an extra fee for you to retain this while your application is considered).

  • Can I extend my Temporary Worker visa from within the UK?

    Some categories cannot extend their visa past the maximum period including the Youth Mobility Scheme visa (except Youth Mobility visa holders from New Zealand who can apply to extend their visa by one additional year) and the Indian Young Professionals Scheme. All other categories of Temporary Worker may extend their visa if they continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

  • Can I switch from a Temporary Worker visa into another route from within the UK?

    Seasonal Workers cannot switch onto another visa from within the UK. If you have another Temporary Worker visa, you may be able to switch from within the UK to another visa route, based on the requirements of that particular visa.

  • How do I employ someone in the UK under a Temporary Worker visa?

    You must first be licensed by the Home Office to sponsor overseas workers.

  • What is the difference between Tier 5 and a Temporary Worker visa?

    Tier 5 no longer exists although it previously used to cover Temporary Worker visas. There are new immigration routes available to cover Temporary Worker visas which are described in this page.

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