For British nationals with desirable qualifications or experience in a variety of fields, the dream of living and working abroad can be closer than you think. Many global visa opportunities for skilled British workers exist as companies around the world continue to recruit and mobilise talent.
While the future of working in Europe is currently uncertain, opportunities further afield may hold more stable appeal for British workers looking for their next challenge or career move.
If you are considering emigrating, we have compiled some popular skilled worker visas currently available to British nationals.
Australia’s General Skilled Migration (GSM) program provides an opportunity for skilled UK residents to migrate to Australia.
The program incorporates three visa subclasses:
- Skilled – Independent Visa (subclass 189);
- Skilled – Sponsored Visa (subclass 190); and
- Skilled – Regional Sponsored Visa (subclass 489)
To be eligible, applicants must meet basic threshold requirements. They must:
- be less than 50 when they apply;
- have sufficient English language ability;
- have their skills assessed by a designated Australian authority;
- be of reasonably good heath.
- be of good character.
- nominate a relevant occupation found on the “Skilled Occupations List.”
The Skilled Occupation List is expansive and includes a variety of trades and professions, including many roles in the engineering, education, health, legal, finance and construction industries.
If a State or Territory Government nominates an applicant, the list of endorsed occupations is even broader.
If these threshold requirements are met, the applicant must then achieve a sufficient number of points, under a point-based system.
Points are awarded on the basis of age, English language ability, Australian and overseas work experience, educational qualifications, Australian study, credentialed community language qualifications, study in regional Australia, partner qualifications, completing a professional year in Australia and nomination by a State or Territory (Visa 190 only).
For each of the three visa subclasses, applicants must obtain a minimum of 60 points to qualify.
New Zealand’s Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa is similarly designed to invite people into New Zealand with the skills to stimulate economic growth.
Applicants must first register their expression of interest with the New Zealand Government.
As a preliminary requirement, all applicants must be under 55 and meet the necessary English language, health and character requirements.
The applicants are then selected based on a points-based system, similar to the Australian system.
Applicants need to receive at least 100 points to be considered.
If an applicant has 140 points or more, they are guaranteed to receive an invitation to apply for a visa.
Points are accumulated for age, work experience, qualifications (with bonus points for New Zealand qualifications), having close family in New Zealand, job offers (with bonus points for job offers in areas of growth, skills shortages, clusters and employment outside of Auckland) and other factors.
The highest number of points awarded for a single attribute is 60; awarded to those who have been working in a skilled job in New Zealand for more than a year and to those with a masters degree or a doctorate.
Anyone with a job offer or who has been working in a skilled job in New Zealand for less than a year, or who has a degree, receives 50 points.
People with trade qualifications or diplomas gain 40 points.
People aged 20 to 29 or who have 10 years work experience in skilled employment receive 30 points.
Further points are awarded for other attributes.
New Zealand also offers a separate Essential Skills Work Visa for up to five years.
Similar to the UK’s Tier 2 (General) Visa, this is available where an applicant has been offered a full-time job that appears on the Immediate Skill Shortage List or where there are no New Zealanders available to do the work.
New Zealand also offers a Work to Residence visa, where an applicant is offered a permanent job offer in a role that features on the Long Term Skill Shortage List or where the offer is from an ‘Accredited Employer.’
A Work to Residence Visa enables a person to apply for a resident visa after working in their role for two years, provided they meet the standard requirements and have a base salary of at least NZ$45,000.
Since January 2015, Canada’s ‘Express Entry’ system administers all applications for visas under the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class.
To apply, visa applicants must create an online profile, detailing their skills, work experience, language ability, education and other relevant details.
Those who meet the criteria for one or more of the federal immigration programs will be listed in a pool of candidates.
The Federal Skilled Workers Program seeks skilled applicants who possess:
- a sufficient amount of work experience at a requisite skill level (management, professional or technical occupations);
- sufficient language proficiency in English or French; and
- a minimum education, equal to Canadian secondary school.
The Federal Skilled Trades Program seeks skilled tradesmen. Minimum requirements include:
- an offer of full-time employment;
- sufficient skills for the vacancy;
- two years relevant work experience; and
- sufficient language proficiency in English or French.
The Canadian Experience Class Visa is designed for those who have gained at least 12 months full-time skilled work experience in Canada.
Applicants who meet the minimum criteria remain in a pool of candidates for 12 months. Those in the pool with the highest number of points will be invited to apply for a visa.
Candidates are awarded points for:
- a job offer (with bonus points for a job offer that is supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment);
- a nomination from a province or territory;
- language ability; and
- education, skills and experience.
We are experienced in advising on global visa opportunities for skilled British workers. If you are interested in applying for a working visa in any country, contact one of our team for advice and assistance.