How to Work in the United Kingdom as an OFW

Every year, thousands upon thousands of people come to the United Kingdom for employment, business, study, and leisure purposes. Among them are numerous Pinoys seeking to live and work there as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Thanks to its rich history, culture, and flourishing economy, the U.K. is a popular destination among foreign nationals. In this article, we will take a look at the different “pathways” you can pursue to enter the Kingdom, along with the eligibility criteria, requirements and procedures involved.

How to Work in the United Kingdom as an OFW


There are several countries whose citizens can come to the U.K. and stay for up to six months… even without a visa. These include the EU countries (member states of the European Union), Australia, United States, Canada, and Japan. However, if they want to work in the Kingdom, they would need to apply for a working visa — along with citizens from other countries.

Of course, just like in any other country, you need to have the training, skills, and experience required for a specific job in the U.K. That being said, some general qualifications include:

  • Minimum Age. For most types of U.K. work visas, the applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  • English Proficiency. Basic proficiency in the English language is required for most jobs. For certain professions (e.g. education), applicants need to get a certain score in a standardized test.

For those who are planning to immigrate, please note that the U.K. follows a points-based system with regard to visa applications. Each applicant’s “score” is based on his/her:

  • Educational qualification;
  • English proficiency;
  • Level of work qualification;
  • Job offer from an approved sponsor;
  • Salary; and
  • Shortage of workers for the profession.

NOTE: Regardless of the type of work visa involved, the applicant must first have a job offer from a U.K. sponsor (or employer) who holds a valid sponsorship license.

Types of Work Visas in the U.K.

There are three main types of U.K. working visas: (a) short-term work visas; (b) long-term work visas; and (c) visas for talents, innovators, and business start-ups.

In this article, we will focus on the first two: short-term and long-term work visas. In particular, we will also look at the Skilled Worker Visa, which is a type of long-term work visa that most foreign nationals apply for.

A. Short-Term U.K. Work Visas

As the name says, short-term work visas are given to those who are planning to work temporarily in the U.K. These visas are usually valid for 6 months up to 1 year:

  • Charity Worker Temporary Visa. Issued for unpaid volunteer charity work; valid for up to 1 year.
  • Creative Worker Temporary Visa. For those who work in a creative industry (e.g. actors, dancers, musicians, film crew members, etc.). This visa is valid for up to 1 year.
  • Government Authorised Exchange Visa. Issued for purposes of work experience or study; valid for up to 2 years.
  • Graduate Visa. For graduates who would like to stay in the U.K. for work, after completing a course.
  • International Agreement Temporary Visa. For those who perform work that is covered by international law or treaty (e.g. working as an official in a diplomatic house). It is valid for up to 2 years.
  • Religious Worker Visa. Issued for non-pastoral religious activities; valid for up to 2 years.
  • Seasonal Worker Visa. For those who work as fruit pickers, farm workers, and other similar jobs; valid for up to 6 months.
  • Youth Mobility Scheme Visa. Issued to young people 18-30 years old, with savings of at least GBP 2,530 and meet other eligibility requirements. It is valid for up to 2 years.

NOTE: Short-term visas are issued for specific types of jobs only. They are generally not included in the points-based visa system.

B. Long-Term U.K. Work Visas

Typically, long-term work visas are valid for up to 5 years. They are also renewable and come with the possibility of applying for permanent residence or citizenship in the U.K.

Long-term work visas in the Kingdom include:

  • Health and Care Worker Visa. For healthcare workers who will be working with the National Health Service (NHS) or in adult social care.
  • Minister of Religion Visa. Issued for senior positions in a British religious organization.
  • Senior or Specialist Worker. For employees of foreign companies who will be working in a U.K. branch.
  • Skilled Worker Visa. Issued to skilled workers; they need to meet the minimum requirements in the U.K.’s points-based system.

NOTE: If you want to change jobs or change employers while in the U.K., you can do so if you are eligible and if your new employer is a licensed sponsor. However, you will still need to renew your visa.

C. Skilled Worker Visa

As mentioned earlier, the Skilled Worker Visa is a type of long-term work visa in the U.K. To qualify for this visa, an applicant must:

  • Be sponsored by a UK-based employer;
  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)for the job;
  • Demonstrate English proficiency (at least CEFR Level B1);
  • Provide a criminal record certificate;
  • Provide a valid TB certificate (if needed); and
  • Can financially sustain himself/herself and his/her family (if applicable) without having to rely on public funds.

NOTE: CEFR stands for “Common European Framework of Reference for Languages,” which is an international standard for describing language ability.

Meanwhile, for their part, employers must have paid the required Immigration Skills Charge. They must also ensure that the worker will be paid a salary that is equal to or more than the “going rate” for the job.


Below are the list of requirements for the short-term, long-term, and skilled worker visas, respectively. Please note that additional documents may also be required.

A. Short-Term U.K. Work Visas

To apply for a short-term work visa, an applicant must prepare:

  • Valid photo ID;
  • Sponsor control number;
  • Bank statements; and
  • Tuberculosis test results (if coming from certain countries).

B. Long-Term U.K. Work Visas

Generally speaking, long-term work visas fall under the U.K.’s points-based system. This means that for each criteria/requirement below, there are corresponding points.

The applicant must score 70 points, of which 50 points are based on:

  • Job offer from a licensed sponsor (20 points);
  • Work of the appropriate level (20 points); and
  • Minimum level of English language proficiency (10 points).

The remaining 20 points will be based on:

  • Job in the official deficit profession (20 points);
  • Salary of GBP 25,600 or the going rate for the profession, whichever is higher (20 points);
  • Job-related STEM-based Ph.D. degree (20 points);
  • Salary of GBP 23,040 to GBP 25,599, or at least the going rate for the profession, whichever is higher (10 points); and
  • Job-related Ph.D. degree in a non-STEM subject (10 points).

C. Skilled Worker Visa

When applying for a Skilled Worker Visa, an applicant must submit:

  • Valid passport;
  • Proof of English language proficiency;
  • Job contract stating job title and annual salary;
  • Job occupation code;
  • Certificate of Sponsorship reference number; and
  • Copy of Certificate of Sponsorship.

Moreover, the following additional documents may also be required:

  • Bank statements;
  • Criminal record certificate (if needed)
  • Tuberculosis test results (if needed); and
  • Proof of relationship with dependents (if applicable).

Most Popular Jobs in the U.K. for Overseas Filipino Workers

Nowadays, the most popular career industries in the U.K. are: health and social work, construction, education, and manufacturing. Consequently, the most in-demand jobs in the Kingdom include the following:

  • Healthcare – nurses, caregivers, paramedics, etc.
  • Construction – construction workers, welders, engineers, architects, graphic designers, electrical technicians, etc.
  • Education – teachers, teaching assistants, etc.
  • Hospitality – chefs/cooks, waiters/waitresses, etc.
  • Manufacturing – operations managers, production workers, etc.
  • Sales – retail workers, business analysts, etc.
  • Information Technology – software developers, cybersecurity specialists, etc.

How to Become an OFW in the U.K.

Here is an overview of the application processes for short-term and long-term U.K. work visas (including Skilled Worker Visa), respectively:

A. Short-Term U.K. Work Visas

Submit all the required documents through a U.K. visa application center. In the Philippines, you can go to VFS Global Services in Manila. VFS Global is a commercial company that provides support services to those applying for a U.K. visa. This company works in coordination with U.K. Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

At VFS Global Services, you will need to provide your biometrics (e.g. fingerprints), in addition to your documents. Visa processing may take up to 8 weeks, so it is best to apply for your visa at least 3 months before your expected date of travel to the U.K.

B. Long-Term UK Work Visas

When applying for a long-term work visa, you will also need to go to VFS Global Services in Manila. Submit the required documents and provide your biometric details. Once again, it may take up to 8 weeks before a decision is made on your application, so be sure to apply at least 3 months before your intended date of travel.

Licensed Recruitment Agencies to the United Kingdom

When you apply for work in the U.K., make sure that you are dealing with an accredited manpower agency. Here is a list of recruitment agencies that are licensed by the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers (DMW):

  • 10th Story Placement Agency Inc.;
  • 1st Dynamic Personnel Resources Inc.;
  • 21st Century Manpower Resources Inc.;
  • 7107 Islands Placement and Promotions Inc.;
  • ABBA Personnel Services Inc.;
  • Aguinaldo Recruiment Agency Inc.;
  • Alliance International Recruitment and Placement Services Inc.;
  • AMI Global Recruitment;
  • AMZION International Manpower Agency Inc.;
  • Andrews Manpower Consulting Inc.;
  • Aquavir International Inc.;
  • ASC Global Recruitment Inc.;
  • CAMOX Philippines Inc.;
  • GHR Healthcare Recruitment Inc.;
  • Industrial Personnel and Management Services Inc. (IPAMS);
  • Jedegal International Manpower Services Inc.;
  • Jinhel International Recruitment Corporation;
  • Luzern International Manpower Services Corporation;
  • Omanfil International Manpower Development Corporation;
  • QRD International Placement Inc.;
  • SCS Placement Services Inc.;
  • Sharp BH Global Manpower Inc.; and
  • Staffhouse International Resources Corporation.

NOTE: To see the full list of all manpower agencies that are licensed to recruit land-based as well as sea-based OFWs worldwide, please visit the DMW official website.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some commonly asked questions — and answers — about how to become an overseas worker in the U.K.:

1. Who are qualified to work in the U.K.?

Although citizens from certain countries (i.e. Australia, Canada, United States, Japan, EU countries) can come to the U.K. and stay there for a limited time, they would still need to apply for a work visa if they want to get a job there. The same goes for citizens from other countries, including the Philippines.

2. What are the requirements?

The requirements depend would depend on the type of visa you are applying for, be it a short-term work visa or a long-term one. Nonetheless, the most common requirements include: valid passport, sponsor control number, English proficiency test results, job contract, and bank statements, among others.

3. What are the most in-demand jobs for OFWs?

Currently, the most in-demand jobs in the U.K. are those in the healthcare, construction, education, and manufacturing industries. These include nurses, caregivers, construction workers, engineers, teachers, operations managers, retail workers, etc.

4. How can I become an OFW in the U.K.?

Before anything else, you need to have a job offer from a U.K. employer. You also have to prepare certain documents and submit these to a U.K. visa application center. In the Philippines, VFS Global Services in the company in charge of facilitating U.K. visa applications. Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, the process could take several weeks before a decision is made.

5. Why did my visa application get denied?

If your visa application was refused or denied, there are several possible reasons for this: (a) your application form is not fully completed; (b) application fee and other costs are not fully paid; (c) the certificate of sponsorship reference number or job code is not accurate; (d) supporting documents are not enough to demonstrate your eligibility: (e) the minimum score in the points-based system is not met; (f) criminal record is not “clean;” or (g) your employer does not have the proper sponsor licenses.

6. What can I do if my visa gets denied?

If your visa gets denied, you can opt for an administrative review, although you must file for this right away. If you applied from outside the U.K., you must file for an administrative review within 28 days; if you applied from inside the U.K., you’ve got 14 days.

After receiving your request, the U.K. Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Home Office will release a decision within 28 days. In any case, if your visa has been denied and you would like to explore your options, you can always get in touch with an immigration lawyer.

7. How can I learn more about working in the U.K.?

For more information about how you can apply for work in the U.K., please visit GOV.UK, the official website of the U.K. government.

Contact Information: VFS Global Services Manila

Likewise, if you are eager to know more about applying for a U.K. work visa, you can get in touch with the VFS Global Services office in Manila through their contact details below. The office is open from Mondays to Fridays, 7:00 am to 4:00 pm. Notably, passport collection is held at the office daily, between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm.

Address: VFS Global Services Philippines Private Inc., Mezzanine Floor Unit M01, Ecoplaza Building, 2305 Chino Roces Avenue Extension Makati City, Metro Manila 1231

Google Map:

Tips for Finding Work in the U.K.

Now that you know more about the U.K. work visa application process, let’s focus on how you can find a job there in the first place. Below are some tips for landing a job in the Kingdom:

  • Update Your Resume. See to it that your resume is up to date, with clear and correct information. You can also search for “British standard” resumes online to know what U.K. employers are looking for in terms of format.
  • Provide Recommendation Letters. Letters of recommendation from your past employers could help. Include their contact details in your resume in case your employer wants to do a background check.
  • Go Online. These days, more and more people are getting hired through online platforms such as LinkedIn. Do not hesitate to register and use these websites for career-related opportunities!
  • Prepare for Interviews. Try to learn more about the company and the specific job that you are applying for. This way, you can be better prepared to answer questions during the job interview.

Video: How to Apply for Work in the U.K.

In this video shared by “Journey with Freddy” on YouTube, a Filipino based in the U.K. talks about how he was able to find work in the Kingdom. He is currently working as a teacher in London.

Additional Reminders

Meanwhile, here are some additional reminders, especially for those who have just begun to work in the U.K.:

  • Job Contract. As an employee, you have the right to ask for a written job contract, which should contain your working hours, salary, job description, and other details.
  • Annual Leave. Full time employees in the U.K. are entitled to a minimum of 28 days annual leave, including 8 public holidays.
  • British Labor Law. Here are some important U.K. labor laws that you should know about: Labor Rights Law of 1996, National Minimum Wage Act of 1998, and Equality Act of 2010.


With its high quality healthcare, rich cultural heritage, and numerous career opportunities, the U.K. is definitely a great place to be an OFW. If you are aspiring to come and work here someday, we hope that the above guide has been helpful!

In the meantime, if you would like to read about other top destinations for overseas workers, check out this article about how you can work in the United States as an OFW.