The UK may be small, but it is one of the most diverse and dynamic hubs of the global pharmaceutical industry. With over a hundred pharmaceutical companies operating in the UK, you may be tempted to move here to help develop your career.
If you are a non-EU national you will need to obtain a working visa before you can come to the UK to work. Individual companies make the decision on whether to consider applications from non-EU candidates, and you will probably need to be sponsored to get a visa, either by the company that you’re going to be working for, or by another company relating to the work that you’re going to be doing. The process of getting a working visa can take several months and you will need to pay an application fee.
Tier 1 (Exceptional talent/Entrepreneur/Investor) visas
You can apply for a Tier 1 working visa if you’re highly skilled and working at the top of your field, for example in science or medicine. Tier 1 visas are also for investors and entrepreneurs with sufficient funds or endorsement, however you can no longer apply for a Tier 1 visa under the ‘general’ category.
Tier 2 (General/Intra-company transfer) visas
If you’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK you can apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa. This is the route taken for most non-EU scientists and engineers, and these visas require sponsorship by the company that you’re going to be working for or a related company or institution. If you’re already working in a pharmaceutical company with business operations in the UK, you can also apply for an intra-company transfer visa under Tier 2.
As there is an annual limit on the number of visas issued for Tier 2, there is no guarantee that you will be able to obtain one, even if you have been offered a job and have sponsorship. Applicants accrue points based on salary and qualifications. Preferential treatment is given to applicants for PhD level positions or for jobs which are on the official shortage occupations list.
Tier 5 (Temporary worker) visas
Tier 5 visas are for people looking to work in the UK temporarily for up to 2 years. Like Tier 2, you will need sponsorship to obtain a Tier 5 visa.
For more information see the UK Border Agency website.
If you are interested in coming to the UK to study, please see the Student visas page of the UK Border Agency website.
Last modified: 16 March 2022
Last reviewed: 16 March 2022