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UK Permit Free Employment
What is permit free employment?
Permit free employment refers to certain categories of employment for which a work permit is not required. The areas covered by this leaflet are as follows:
  • Minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order
  • Sole representative of an overseas firm in the UK
  • Representatives of overseas newspapers, news agencies and broadcasting organisations
  • Airport-based operational ground staff of overseas-owned airlines
  • Postgraduate doctors and dentists (training) including PLAB Tests
  • Teachers and language assistants coming to the UK under approved exchange schemes
  • Seasonal workers at agricultural camps
  • Writers, composers and artists
  • Overseas government employees
  • Dependants of the above
 
What requirements do I have to meet?
The requirements vary for each of the above types of employment. The principal requirements are detailed below.
 
Minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order
 
Minister of religion: you must have been working for at least one year as a minister of religion or, where ordination is prescribed by your religious faith as the sole means of entering the ministry, have been ordained as a minister of religion for at least one year's full-time or two year's part-time training for the ministry.
 
Missionary: you must have been trained as a missionary or worked as a missionary and be sent to the UK by an overseas organisation.
 
Member of a religious order: you must be coming to the UK to live in a community maintained by the religious order of which you are a member. If you intend to teach you may do so only at an establishment maintained by your religious order.
 
As a Minister of religion, missionary or member of a religious order, you must also meet the following requirements:
  • you must intend to work full-time as a minister of religion, missionary or for the religious order of which you are a member
  • you must not intend to take employment except within the terms stated above
  • you must be able to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds
  • At the time you apply for your visa you should also produce the following evidence:
  • a letter from your employer in the UK outlining details of your expected duties and the salary you will receive
  • a contract of employment, if you have one
  • evidence of any qualifications you have for the position you are taking and details of your past experience
Sole representative of an overseas firm in the UK
  • you must have been recruited and taken on as an employee outside the UK as a representative of a firm which has its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK and which has no branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK
  • you must be seeking entry to the UK as a senior employee with full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas firm for the purpose of representing it in the UK by establishing and operating a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of that overseas firm
  • you intend to be employed full-time as a representative of that overseas firm
  • you are not a majority shareholder in that overseas firm
  • you do not intend to take employment except within the terms as stated above
  • you are able to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds
For further information about the documentation you require to make your application contact your nearest British overseas mission that offers a visa service.
 
Representatives of overseas newspapers, news agencies and broadcasting organisations
  • you have been engaged by your organisation outside the UK and your posting to the UK is a long-term assignment as a representative
  • you intend to work full-time as a representative of that overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
  • you do not intend to take employment except within the terms stated above
  • you are able to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds
This category includes correspondents who work for overseas magazines and periodicals mainly concerned with news reporting as well as newspersons working for overseas broadcasting organisations.
 
Administrative or support staff (e.g. secretaries) require a work permit.Correspondents visiting the UK for short-term assignments (for 6 months or less) will be considered as business visitors provided they qualify as such.
 
 
Airport based operational ground staff of overseas-owned airlines
  • you must have been transferred to the UK by an overseas-owned airline which operates services to and from the UK, to undertake duties at an international airport as a station manager, security manager or technical manager
  • you must intend to work full-time for the airline concerned
  • you do not intend to take employment except within the terms stated above
  • you are able to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds
 
Postgraduate doctors and dentists (training)
  • you must be a graduate from a medical school and intend to undertake Pre-Registration House Officer employment for up to 12 months
  • you must be eligible for provisional or limited registration with the General Medical Council
  • you must have spent no more than 12 months in aggregate in Pre-Registration House Officer employment
  • be a doctor or dentist eligible for full or limited registration with the General Medical Council or General Dental Council who intends to undertake postgraduate training in a hospital or the Community Health Services or both
  • you must not have already spent four years in postgraduate training in the UK (excluding the 12 months you worked as a house officer)
  • you must intend to leave the UK on completion of the training period; and
  • you must be able to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds
 
How can I register if I am a doctor who has qualified overseas?
If you qualified overseas, you may need to pass a test set by the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) to demonstrate your knowledge of English and medicine before you can register with the General Medical Council.
 
Doctors must pass an English test, known as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), before they can take the PLAB test. You do not have to take this test in the UK, you may attend at any one of over 100 centres around the world.
 
You may be granted permission to stay for a maximum of 18 months in the UK to enable you to pass the PLAB test.
 
How long can I stay for postgraduate training?
Initially you will be granted permission to stay in the UK for up to three years. You can apply to stay for up to four years as long as you have a postgraduate job in basic specialist training or a similar job. If you have a job in higher specialist training, you may apply to stay for longer than four years. Your permission to stay can be extended for up to three years at a time.
 
You must remain registered with the General Medical Council or the General Dental Council and intend to leave the UK when you finish your training.
 
Teachers and language assistants coming to the UK under approved exchange schemes
  • you must be coming to an educational establishment in the UK under an exchange scheme approved by the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) or administered by the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges or the League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers
  • you must intend to leave the UK at the end of your exchange period
  • you must not intend to take employment except within the terms stated above
  • you must be able to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds
Teachers will normally be issued with a numbered 'certificate of appointment' by one of the sponsoring bodies listed above. This certificate contains details of the educational establishment to which the applicant is to be appointed the duration of the appointment and their personal details.
 
You should show your 'certificate of appointment' to the entry clearance officer at the time you make your application.
 
Seasonal workers at agricultural camps
The total number of seasonal workers recruited each year is restricted. The requirements for entry to the UK as a seasonal worker at an agricultural camp are as follows:
  • you must be a student in full-time education abroad and aged between 18-25 years inclusive
  • you must hold a valid Home Office work card issued by the operator of a scheme approved by the Secretary of State
  • you must intend to leave the UK at the end of your period of leave to enter the UK as a seasonal worker
  • you must not intend to take employment except within the terms stated above
  • you must be able to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds
It is generally accepted that the season runs from 1 May to 30 November and operators do not issue work cards for dates outside of this period.
 
Scheme operators may issue Home Office work cards to workers who have proved reliable in the past and are returning at the specific request of a farmer, but who do not meet the criteria above. Work cards must be issued by an operator and are notvalid if individual farmers issue them. Those over 25 should be invited back only for supervisory tasks and in small numbers.
 
Switching into seasonal agricultural work after arrival in the UK is not allowed. You may remain as a visitor provided your overallstay does not run beyond 30 November.
 
Writers, composers and artists
  • you must be established outside the UK and be primarily engaged in producing original work. Which has been published (other than solely in newspapers and magazines), performed or exhibited for it's literary, musical or artistic merit
  • you intend to work only as a self employed writer, composer or artist
  • you have for the preceding year maintained and accommodated yourself and any dependants from your own resources without working, except as a writer, composer or artist
  • you are able to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants from your own resources without working, except as a writer, composer or artist, and without recourse to public funds
Writers are defined as:
  • authors
  • essayists
  • playwrights
  • poets
  • journalists who have established themselves as literary figures, for instance journalists who have had their journalistic work published in book form.
If you do not fall within the above definition you will require a work permit.
 
Composers means composers of music. If you wish to perform someone else's work or perform as part of a band, you will require a work permit. This will not necessarily disqualify you from continuing to be regarded primarily as a composer.
 
Artists are defined as:
  • painters
  • sculptors
  • photographers of international artistic standing
  • cartoonists and illustrators whose work has been published or exhibited for its artistic merit
If you wish to exhibit and/or sell your work in the UK you qualify under this section, even if you do not wish to establish yourself in the UK.
 
If you are one of the following you do not qualify unless you are primarily engaged in producing original work that has been published or exhibited on its own merits:
  • a craftsman
  • an architect
  • a designer
Overseas government employees
  • you must be able to produce to an Immigration Officer at a UK port of entry a UK visa for this purpose
  • satisfactory documentary evidence of your status as an overseas government employee
  • you must intend to work full-time for the government or organisation concerned
  • you must not intend to take employment except within the terms stated above
  • you must be able to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds
An overseas government employee means a person employed by an overseas government or employed by the United Nations Organisation or other international organisation of which the UK is a member.
 
Staff posted to a commercial enterprise in the UK owned by an overseas government (e.g. a state owned shipping company) do not qualify under this section and must obtain work permits.
 
 
Dependants of all the categories listed above
If you are admitted to the UK under any of the above categories, your spouse and children under 18 may be admitted to the UK with you providedthey have an entry clearance for this purpose.
 
Your dependants should apply for entry clearance in the way described below and should provide evidence that they will be adequately maintained and accommodated for the period they are in the UK.
 
If you are already in the UK it would be helpful to provide your dependants show copies of the pages of your passport containing your admission and personal details, these should be shown to the entry clearance officer at the time of their application.
 
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