Job Opportunities for Ex-pats in London, United Kingdom

From bar staff to brain surgeon, London's expatriate job opportunities are as diverse as its population, even during an economic downturn. All that is required is a valid visa and a willingness to work.

London is a sprawling, chaotic and cosmopolitan city that is home to over eight million residents, more than 300 languages and very expensive real estate. Britain’s capital city is an international financial and trading center whose worldwide links make it a magnet for expatriates seeking jobs. Whether bartender or international banker, London has something for everyone’s cultural, culinary and spiritual needs.

Even in the midst of an economic downturn, there are jobs aplenty in London for those who want to work. The city’s economy has little use for the products of Britain’s disintegrating state education system. Employers despair about the lack of work ethic, literacy and communications skills among British school leavers and, increasingly, university graduates. They stress that a foreigner with language skills and a sense of responsibility has become the preferred employee. Britain’s generous social welfare payments encourage many local jobseekers to remain unemployed rather than work for a low starter job salary.

Many expatriates who flocked into London’s low-paid jobs such as catering over the past 20 years have established their own businesses. Others have found qualified employment in finance, industry, law or medicine more suited to their original professional qualifications. Londoners of all origins complain unceasingly about red tape strangling their businesses, but setting up a company in this city is easier than anywhere else in Europe. Immigration regulations are not as easy.

Work Permit Complications

Nationals from European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) member states have a preference for jobs in London. If an employer wishes to hire someone from outside of these regions, he must demonstrate that the preferred candidate has vital skills specific to the job in question. Such skills include a university degree and professional employment experience over at least three years. Multinational organizations can transfer highly-qualified personnel to London along with a suitable relations and remuneration package.

For non-EU or EEA jobseekers in the United States, the best way of finding work in London is to apply at home for a position with a company that has London offices. Once accepted, the employer applies for a British work permit for the employee from a British Consulate. The Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) grants work permits to doctors, scientists, engineers, MBAs without the sponsorship of an employer. Candidates must demonstrate that they have earned a good income before they apply. British employers also actively recruit abroad. The National Health Service (NHS) is always recruiting qualified doctors and nurses from all countries.

Jobseekers who are national of British Commonwealth countries and have one grandparent that was born in the United Kingdom can apply for an Ancestry Visa. This allows the applicant to work in Britain for five years, with an option to apply for British citizenship at the end of the period.

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