• The Midgie
  • 1 October 2008

If you’re from any EEA country, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or even from most Central and South American countries, and have a clean criminal record, it’s fine for you to get on a plane and come to have a holiday in Britain without having to make a visa application in advance. African, Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian nationals will usually need a visa but it shouldn’t be too difficult to get permission to visit Scotland for less than six months.

The situation gets a bit more difficult if you develop a passion for Scotland and want to stay and work. The visa and immigration system is complicated and the UK government has also decided to hugely revamp it. Changes are being made at the moment and will continue into 2009. The government’s aim is to replace the current system with a more streamlined points-based system. This will work by awarding points based on criteria such as the quality of your education, your earning potential, the money you have in the bank and the reputation of your licensed sponsor. The UK government has split up workers into five main categories or ‘tiers’. The good news is that Tier 5 has fairly low entrance criteria because it’s viewed as a short-term immigration category that allows younger folk to (temporarily) mix business with pleasure.


The EEA is the European Economic Area; a group made up of member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), European Community (EC), and European Union (EU).The EEA allows EFTA countries that were not members of the EU, such as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, to take part in the European single market. Member states of the EAA have agreed to allow goods, people, services, and capital to move freely between them.


If you’re coming to the UK with the intention of working you’ll need to sort out a visa, unless you come from an EEA member state or from Switzerland (see factbox). Here are your options under the new system, although please remember that the government has not confirmed all of this information and some of it may change in late 2008/early 2009.


Who is it for?
Highly skilled workers, including investors, entrepreneurs and graduates of a British university.
Why choose this category?
You don’t need a sponsor and you’ll probably be able to extend your stay in Britain.The government is keen to keep highly skilled and affluent workers.
What are my chances?
Not so great, unless you are about to become a graduate of a British university and/or have substantial savings.


Who is it for?
Skilled, sponsored workers who are filling gaps in the British labour market.
Why choose this category?
You’ll probably be able to extend your stay in Britain.The government is happy to allow skilled workers to remain in the country as long as the visa process remains well-regulated.
What are my chances?
Fair, especially if you have skills which are in demand in Britain, good qualifications, some savings (£800 for yourself or more if you have dependants) and a reasonable command of English.You’ll also need to find yourself a licensed sponsor. Applications open in November


Who is it for?
A limited number of unskilled workers needed to fill temporary labour shortages.
What are my chances?
This category is temporarily suspended (the UK government are struggling to cope with an influx of migrant workers) so chances are non-existent at the moment.


Who is it for?
Why choose this category?
If you want to make the most of a UK university education.
What are my chances?
At the moment, you’ll need proof that you’ve been accepted onto a course of study by an organisation that is on the UK register of education and training providers. If you’re from a non-EEA country, you also need entrance clearance to get into the UK. The new arrangements for this
category should be announced in October 2008.


Who is it for?
This is an option that includes a range of categories and allows people to come to the UK on a temporary basis to do temporary jobs.
Why choose this category?
The application process for Tier 5 is not quite as strict as for some of the other categories, so if you don’t do so well under the points system, you may still meet the eligibility criteria for this tier. Under Tier 5 you will be able to stay and work for one or two years in the UK before you’re asked to leave.
What are my chances?

Not bad. See below for more information about the youth mobility scheme, which will most probably be your best option if you’re eligible to apply.You can also apply as a temporary worker under a number of different subcategories including ‘government authorised exchange’, ‘creative and sporting’, ‘religious workers’, ‘charity workers’ and ‘international agreement’.You’ll need a licenced sponsor and sufficient funds to maintain yourself. Applications open in November 2008.

For the most comprehensive information visit the UK Border Agency website:


1) I have an EU passport. Can I come to work or travel in the UK?
If you are an EEA or Swiss citizen you can come and go as you please. If you are a national of a country that joined the European Union (EU) in 2004 you may need to register when you start work. If you are a national of Bulgaria or Romania, you may need to apply for permission before you start to work. Bulgarians and Romanians can also apply
to work in Britain under the seasonal agricultural workers scheme or the sectors based scheme, which deals with ‘low-skilled work within the food manufacturing sector’.

2) I’d like to come to Britain as a ‘working holidaymaker’. How do I go about this?
‘Working holidaymaker’ is a phrase that most Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans will be familiar with. Broadly speaking, it is a scheme that allows people aged 18-30 to spend a limited period of time living and working in Britain. Under the new regulations this scheme will be replaced by the ‘youth mobility’ scheme (a sub category in Tier 5) which
has pretty much the same criteria - you must come from a participating country, be aged 18-30, and have sufficient funds to support yourself from when you first enter the United Kingdomuntil you start earning. You may not participate in the youth mobility scheme if you have dependant children or have previously spent time in the United Kingdom as a working holidaymaker. Also, the scheme doesn’t cover business people, professional sports men and women, or doctors in training. The youth mobility scheme allows you to work for two years whereas the working holidaymaker scheme only allowed one. The youth mobility scheme is open to young people from ‘participating countries’. It is not confirmed whether South Africans will be eligible because South Africa doesn’t have a reciprocal youth mobility arrangement with Britain. The UK government is likely to make a decision in the next few months. As a Tier 5 visa holder, you probably won’t usually be allowed to switch visa categories.

3) I heard about a scheme called Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland. What’s that about?
This scheme was originally designed to try and encourage talented young people who had studied in Scotland to stay in the country after graduation. It is being closed under the new revamp, but if you are just about to graduate from a Scottish university then you can still apply to stay in the country. You’ll be classed as a ‘poststudy worker’ and will be eligible to apply under Tier 1. If you are successful with your application in this category, you won’t need a sponsor to be able to live and work in Scotland.

3) Who can be my sponsor?
A company in Britain who is licensed to employ foreign workers under the points-based system. It will be up to the company to provide you with a certificate of sponsorship to prove your status.

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