Sun | Aug 19, 2018

Do I qualify for a work permit?

Published:Tuesday | January 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr. Bassie,

I am a Jamaican who is in the United Kingdom. I would like to know if I can qualify for a business and commercial work permit in the United Kingdom and what do the British authorities actually check for?

Any advice would be appreciated.

- A.P.

Dear A.P.,

In order for a person who is an overseas national to qualify for a business and commercial work permit, the person applying should have the skills, qualifications, and experience to do the job on offer. Also, the skills, qualifications, and experience of the applicant must be in line with certain criteria.

The applicant must possess the following qualifications: a UK equivalent degree level qualification; or a Higher National Diploma (HND) level qualification, which is relevant to the post on offer; or an HND level qualification, which is not relevant to the post on offer plus one year of relevant full-time work experience at National/Scottish Vocational Qualification (N/SVQ) Level 3 or above.

If the individual is applying based on his or her skills, then he or she must possess the following skills: at least three years full-time experience of using specialist skills acquired through doing the type of work for which the permit is sought. This should be at N/SVQ Level 3 or above.

The British authorities have various options in the event that: (1) the references do not provide enough information to assess the level of work experience obtained by the overseas national; (2) doubt has arisen regarding the validity of the references provided with the application; (3) the overseas national has gained relevant experience under a current work permit and wants to switch to a business and commercial work permit; (4) the references show experience, but not at NVQ Level 3; or (5) the references show experience at NVQ Level 3 but not three years.

Validity checks

The British authorities will also check the established skills, qualifications, and experience by reverting to any job advertisement; references; illegal work (if any); and whether the applicant was a 'working holiday maker'.

The job advertisement should detail the experience required for the post, which should meet the minimum criteria for the work permit arrangements, and the overseas national should have the desired amount of experience at the level stated therein.

In the event where the post on offer requires a specific period and level of work experience, caseworkers will be required to check that this requirement is for at least three years of doing the job for which the permit is being sought and that it is at a standard equivalent to at least NVQ level 3.

The British caseworker will then use references from any previous employers to ensure the overseas national has the amount of experience required in the advertisement and experience at the relevant level and at least NVQ Level 3 in order to qualify for the post and meet the work permit criteria. If the application has an occupation sheet attached for the particular occupation, the details will be checked to ensure that the person has the industry qualifications usually deemed necessary for the job on offer.

While job titles may be used loosely by an employer, this is not necessarily grounds for refusal unless the job title is protected. Copies of references should be on business letter-headed paper and must show the dates that the employment started and ended, along with the job title and a detailed description of the duties and responsibilities held. Statements of good character are not acceptable.

Certified translation

Where an English translation is needed, the employer should normally provide a certified translation.

However, caseworkers may request an original reference, and in exceptional circumstances, liaise with the relevant embassy or high commission to ask them to validate the document(s). This is only done in agreement with the higher executive officer (HEO), and the caseworkers are required to wait for confirmation that the references are valid before approving a case. If the references are found to be false, the case will be refused.

Where an overseas national's previous experience has been gained while self-employed, caseworkers are required to verify the level of the applicant's experience. This may be obtained from references from customers explaining the type of work that the individual has undertaken and may give an indication of the level of experience and how long the person has performed at that level. Also, details of the accounts or ownership documents can provide evidence regarding the individual's status as self-employed and the dates between which the self-employment took place.

Testimonies from other members of staff employed by the individual that detail the duties and responsibilities may also be used. In addition, any independent source such as local officials who are capable of independently detailing the duties and responsibilities of the individual may also help build a case.

It should be noted that any illegal work experience gained while the overseas national was in the United Kingdom should not be taken into account. Work experience gained by an overseas national who had permission to enter the United Kingdom as a student, work permit holder, sole representative, self-employment, or under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme may be classed as legally gained. Any experience gained in these circumstances will be taken into consideration as part of the application.

I hope this helps.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: