Practice Areas

United Kingdom

Gibney provides centralized global immigration services and works closely with our associated office in the United Kingdom, Magrath LLP, to provide comprehensive immigration services for individuals and employers.

The United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) introduced significant immigration reform in 2008 and instituted a Points-Based System (PBS) to replace the previous work permit scheme. These reform efforts have continued to evolve in response to economic and political developments. Gibney supports employers to recruit and retain international talent and to institute the appropriate compliance measures to safeguard the company and its employees.

Business Visitors

A business visit is generally defined as a short trip to conduct permissible business activities in the destination country, provided these activities do not constitute work or employment within the meaning of the United Kingdom (UK) Border Agency guidelines. Business visitors to the UK may participate in the limited business activities such as attending conferences or meetings if the intended period of stay does not exceed 180 days.

Foreign nationals from certain countries may require a visa for entry as a business visitor. For a list of countries that require a visa for entry please visit:

To determine whether a visa is required for entry please also visit “Do you need a visa?“:

For additional information or specific legal advice regarding business visitors and visa requirements, please contact a Gibney representative.

Employment Authorization

The following is intended to provide general information regarding the immigration and visa process for foreign nationals who seek employment in the United Kingdom (UK).

British citizens and citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) member countries have the right to work in the UK. The EEA consists of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. The list of EEA member states is subject to change. Passport holders from any EEA country have a “right of free movement” across the EEA and may reside in other member state countries in order to work, undertake self-employment, study, or remain on a self-sufficient basis. Swiss nationals have a right to enter and reside in member states of the EEA for employment pursuant to a bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the European Union. (Switzerland is not a member state of the EU or the EEA.) All other foreign nationals must obtain the appropriate employment authorization.


The following is a brief summary of the five tiers or categories in the UK Points Based System (PBS) introduced in 2008:

  • Tier 1: (Investors) (Entrepreneurs) and (Exceptional Talent);
  • Tier 2: (General) – new recruits;
  • Tier 2: (Intra-company Transfers) – foreign nationals who are transferring to the UK from a qualifying parent or affiliate abroad;
  • Tier 2: (Sports Person) (Minister of Religion);
  • Tier 3: (Currently this has not been introduced) – Limited numbers of low skilled workers needed to fill specific temporary labor shortages;
  • Tier 4: (Students); and
  • Tier 5: (Temporary Workers and Youth Mobility) – foreign nationals allowed to work in the UK for a limited period of time to satisfy primarily non economic objectives.

For each Tier, foreign nationals must have sufficient points to obtain an Entry Clearance or Further Leave to Remain in the UK. Points are given for attributes which predict a migrant’s success in the labor market and/or control factors relating to whether someone is likely to comply with the conditions of their stay. All foreign nationals in Tier 2 to 5 must be sponsored by a licensed employer.

For additional information or specific legal advice regarding employment authorization and visa requirements, please contact a Gibney representative.