Working in Northern Ireland

Depending on where you come from, you might need a work permit and possibly a visa to work in Northern Ireland. Your employer will need to check that you have permission to legally work in the UK. Find out your employment rights and responsibilities and where to get further information.

Who can work in the UK

If you want to come to the UK to work, whether you can depends on your country of origin, the type of job you want to apply for, and your relevant skills.

If you are not a British or Irish citizen, you may need a visa before you travel here. 

If you have to get a visa, you'll need to be cleared by officials at a British Overseas Mission in your country of origin. Once cleared, the entry clearance certificate, or visa, will be put into your passport or travel document.

If you want to work in the UK, you must apply under the new points-based immigration system.

Workers from European Economic Area (EEA countries)

If you’re an EU/EEA (non-Irish) national, you will have to have either ‘settled status’ or pre-settled status or you will need to satisfy the requirements of the UK’s new points-based immigration system to work in Northern Ireland.

Frontier working

A Frontier Worker permit lets you come to the UK to work while living elsewhere.

You may be eligible if all of the following apply:

  • you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
  • you live outside of the UK
  • you worked in the UK before 31 December 2020
  • you have kept working in the UK at least once every 12 months since you started working here

If you’re an Irish citizen, you do not need to apply for a Frontier Worker permit but you can choose to do so.

If you’re a frontier worker, you’ll need a permit to enter the UK to work from 1 July 2021. You can use your passport or national identity card until then.

There’s no fee to apply for the permit.

Students

If you're an international student you may need permission to work here when you're studying.

You should check the visa stamp in your passport.

If it says 'prohibited' you can't work in the UK.

If it grants you leave to enter or stay in the UK as a student, you can work here provided you don't:

  • work more than 20 hours a week during term time, unless the employment is part of your studies, or is an internship
  • engage in business, are not self-employed and don't provide services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer
  • take a permanent full-time position

Proof an employer will need from you

You'll need to show a prospective employer your:

  • passport
  • national identity card or Home Office registration certificate
  • UK Border Agency work document if need permission to work

Employers can face unlimited fines if they employ illegal workers and need to make sure that no one they employ is working in the UK illegally.

However, to protect themselves against discrimination laws they should treat all job applicants equally. So don't be offended if you're asked to prove your nationality, as even UK nationals will be asked to provide proof.

Finding a job in Northern Ireland

There are lots of ways of finding a job, including through personal contacts and Jobs and Benefits Offices. For further advice see looking for work.

You can also improve your chances of getting a job by getting training and learning for work to improve your skills.

Check if your qualifications are recognised

If you're resident in Northern Ireland, a qualifications equivalence service is available to check your qualifications against the UK equivalents. This service is free of charge and available from the following offices

Staff at the offices will access the UK National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) databases on your behalf, and provide you with comparison information and advice on your specific qualifications. Your country of origin needs to be listed on the NARIC databases to avail of this service.

You'll need to have a copy of your qualification certificates or details. 

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