that you know what living in the United Kingdom will be like, you’ll need to start filling out the paperwork and preparing yourself for the move. A lot of this will depend on your reason for moving and your ability to care for yourself financially. The process is very simple for someone married to a citizen of the UK, but if you are married to a citizen of the UK, you probably knew that already. In general, the government of the United Kingdom wants to be sure that you will not be relying on government welfare once you relocate. If you can prove that you have an employer or family in good financial standing, you should be able to get a visa without any issue. If you do not have family in the United Kingdom, it is advisable to start applying for jobs in the UK before attempting to obtain a visa. Obtaining a Work Visa From a New Employer It can be very difficult to find employment in the United Kingdom as a citizen of the United States. Legally, an employer can only sponsor a visa if they can prove that they have attempted to find a person of similar talent who is already a citizen without success. This means you will have to have extensive experience in your line of work. An easier option might be applying to jobs in the United States that have offices abroad. Two types of organizations that regularly hire American workers for jobs in the United Kingdom are investment banks and news agencies.
I’m Hired. Now What? Once you have been hired for a position in the United Kingdom, you can apply for what is called a Tier 2 general visa. This visa allows you to work in the United Kingdom for up to 5 years, or until your sponsorship (from your employer) expires, whichever happens first. You can apply for this visa up to three months before your scheduled start date, and will generally receive a decision within 3 weeks of submitting the application. The fee for the five year visa is typically £1,151, unless your job is in a field that the government recognizes as a shortage occupation (one in which there are a shortage of citizen employees who are qualified to fill the position.)
What Happens After Five Years? When the end of your five year work visa is coming up, you will need to apply for what is known as “indefinite need to remain.” In order to be eligible, you will need to be making more than £35,000 a year (unless your position is exempt,) and be able to prove both that you will still be employed in your current position, and that you have not left the United Kingdom for more than 180 total days during your five year tenure. You will also be required to pass two tests: an English language test and a “Life in the UK” test. It is important that you have followed all immigration laws up to this point, or you may be turned away. Once you have your indefinite need to remain permit, you can apply for full citizenship. For full citizenship, you must prove that you have not been out of the UK for greater than 450 days, be of good character, and prove intent to live in the UK. If you can do all of that, you will be a fully fledged citizen of the great United Kingdom!