Opinion Articles

Relocate and Work in the UK as a Social Worker

The great need to enhance or improve social care in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has necessitated the need for social workers in the UK.

Many overseas people are successfully relocating to the UK to work as social workers. This is enabling them to take care of their families and loved ones back at home. If you are considering exploring this route then this article is for you. In order for you to relocate and work in the UK as a social worker you need to first set your house in order right where you are. You need to tick the boxes first.

Where to start from depends on where you are right now. Are you someone who aspires to work as a social worker but you are yet to enrol for a social work diploma or degree program or you are someone already in possession of a social work academic and professional qualification?

Our assumption is that you are a qualified social worker in your country. That means you have been awarded either a degree or a diploma in social work by a recognized education institution such as a university.

We also assume that you have some experience either acquired through an internship or working for some social work related company. That is really a good place to start from if you want your application to be strong.

If you want to relocate and work in the UK as a social worker you want to do the following:

  1. Register with your Local Regulatory Board
  2. Take a Passport 
  3. Have your IELTS Certificate
  4. Take a Drivers License
  5. Get your papers certified,
  6. Register with the Social Work England & make your payments, 
  7. Apply for a Social Work position in UK 
  8. Get a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS)
  9. Take a Police Clearance
  10. Take a TB test,
  11. Make your Visa Application
  12. Budget for your Flight

Register with your Local Regulatory Board 

If you are a social worker or training to be one then you probably already know that you are supposed to register with your Local Regulatory Authority upon meeting requirements. Local regulatory authorities are usually responsible for registering and licensing practicing social workers. They are also usually responsible for conducting examinations to qualify persons for registration as Professional Social Workers. They also define and enforce ethical practice and discipline among registered persons. They also take such steps as the Council considers necessary or desirable to enhance the status and effectiveness of the profession of social work and to promote the interests of social workers. Depending on where you are, find this board and register with them.

Take a passport 

You need a traveling document issued by your government. Therefore, you need to find out the requirements for obtaining a passport in your country. In most countries they usually require documents such as a birth certificate, a national ID and a filled out  application form. You may also be required to pay an application fee. You will need your passport for the visa, flight and entry as well as stay in the UK.

Take your IELTS tests

You are required to take an English test and since you classified as a skilled worker you will need to take the academic test not the general one. You will be tested in 4 segments namely reading, speaking, writing and listening. The British Council in your country offers an International English Language Testing System examination so when you know you are read, go ahead and book to write a test. You will just need to extensively practice in preparation for the test. You will need to prove your knowledge of English with the IELTS certificate. Find out the acceptable band.

Take a drivers license

Preference are being given to individuals that have a driving license as you will be required to drive from one place to another. The good news is if you already have a driving license you will be allowed to drive in the UK in your first year until you become eligible to take the British drivers license.

Get your papers certified

You will be required to get  your professional, academic and identity documents certified. These could include your university certificates and transcripts. It is very crucial that you take note of how they want you to have your copies certified. There is a certain way they want this done.

Register with the Social Work England and make your payments, 

Since you want to relocate and work as a social worker in the UK it is only natural that you register with the Social Work England (SWE). To register or apply to be registered with the SWE you need to create an online account. They will need to confirm with your awarding institution that you are a qualified social worker. You can then use your online account to apply to be a registered social worker and pay your registration fee. You will also use it to record CPD and renew your registration annually. You can create your online registration here,

Apply for a Social Work Job position in the UK

Having completed registration the next thing you need to do is look for a social work job/position in the UK. You can either apply to the councils by yourself or you can do it through recruitment agencies. While there are plenty of these agencies some of the agencies you want to check out are: 

  1. Tripod Partners 
  2. Morgan Hunt 
  3. Sanctuary Personnel 


When a company/council expresses interest in you , they will issue you with a COS certificate depending on their eligibility and willingness to do so. The certificate of sponsorship is an electronic record, not a physical document with a reference number, which you’ll need for your visa application. You must apply for your visa within 3 months of getting your certificate of sponsorship.

Police Clearance

Since you are an overseas applicant you will need to take a police clearance or criminal record certificate. The appropriate time to do this is when have secured a job and you are now thinking of making your visa application. You can get a police clearance from your national police or any other establishment mandated to perform such tasks. Failing to provide an overseas criminal record certificate, or a reasonable explanation for not doing so, may result in your visa application being refused.

Take a TB test

One of the requirements when applying for a visa to relocate and work in the UK is a Tuberculosis test, popularly known as TB test. It is a requirement if you are going to stay in the UK for more than 6 months. You will  be given a chest x-ray to test for TB. If the result of the x-ray is not clear you may also be asked to give a sputum sample (phlegm coughed up from your lungs). If your test shows that you do not have TB, you’ll be given a certificate which is valid for 6 months from the date of your x-ray. Include this certificate with your UK visa application.

Apply for a Visa

You will need to apply for a skilled worker visa. You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa. Your visa can last for up to 5 years before you need to extend it. You’ll need to apply to extend or update your visa when it expires or if you change jobs or employer.  You can apply to extend your visa as many times as you like as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements. After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’). This gives you the right to live, work and study in the UK for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

Budget for your flight

Having received the good news that your visa application to relocate and work in the UK as a social worker was successful you will need to fly to the UK. That means you need to have already budgeted for your flight ticket so that when you receive your visa you are already in a position to travel. You may find cheap flights or not depending with the time you want to travel. There are periods when flights are quite cheap and there are periods when flights become expensive so it just depends with the timing.

We wish you well in your endeavor to relocate and work in the UK as a Social Worker.

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