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Expat contractors find a welcome in the UK

About a year ago, New Zealand contractor, data analyst Peter Cresswell decided to come work in the UK. He had no real definite intentions when he started; "I knew that my skills were in demand, so I thought I would give it a try,'' Cresswell says.

Now Cresswell plans to stay in the UK for at least five years. ''I've had all the work I can handle, and I'm comfortably lodged in London.''

How To Get In

To get the opportunity to work here, Cresswell chose to apply for a 'Working Holiday' Visa. This Visa is available for up to a year for citizens from Commonwealth Countries. British Dependent Territories, or a British Overseas Citizen. You must be single, or married to a fellow working holiday seeker from the allowed countries. You may not have any children, and you must be between the ages of 17 and 30. It took about six weeks to obtain the visa.

Information about UK Visas can be found on the UK Government Visa site.

I have had all the work I can handle and I am comfortably lodged

Peter Cresswell-Expat Contractor

Cresswell is now upgrading his working holiday visa to one that permits highly skilled migrants from any country to work in the UK. ''I probably should have started out with this one, so I wouldn't have had so much paperwork now,'' Cresswell explains. The highly skilled migrant visa is awarded on the basis of age, educational qualifications, UK degree or professional level qualification, previous earnings, and any UK work experience, although the last is not absolutely necessary. Demand for your skills will be the critical factor.

Put the CV on the Web Before You Come

Cresswell didn't spend any time at all looking for work. ''About two weeks before I came, I put my CV up on the job search sites like TotalJobs and Jobserve. As soon as I arrived, and installed a telephone, I began to get calls from agents. I had a six-month contract in no time.''

Cresswell notes that he needed some professional help in adapting his CV to UK requirements. ''The CV here is quite different from the one we use back home. It took some major reworking to make mine right for the sites here. Contractors should take care that they make the CV format right in the interest of speeding up calls from agents.''

Contractors should make sure they adapt their CV to UK standards

Peter Cresswell-Expat Contractor

Get The Bank Account Set Up

Another issue that Cresswell resolved before coming was arranging a bank account. ''I did all the paperwork back home, and then when I arrived in the UK, I just had to go down to the back and sign the forms. Within two weeks I had the account up and running. I strongly recommend that expat contractors do this to speed all that up.''

For structuring his payments rather than set up a limited company Cresswell chose the Parasol IT umbrella company and says they have provided him with excellent service.

Cresswell says that he had no trouble finding a shared flat when he arrived. ''I found a flat share on the Gumtree site, and I had proof that I was starting work, so my flatmates weren't hard to convince.'' Renting a flat or a house by yourself in the UK is of course a more complex matter, and expat contractors who seek to do this may want to consult an estate agent before they arrive.

With demand for contractors likely to remain high in the UK, expats should continue to find a warm welcome here for some time. ''There is a lot of paperwork,'' Cresswell says, ''but it is manageable, and the rewards are real.''

Published: 15 May 2007

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