According to the British government, 612,000 people moved to the UK in 2019. As a result of economic growth, work opportunities, and social benefits, Great Britain has become a top destination country for most people worldwide. But, if you are planning to move to the UK, there are some essential factors you need to consider.
For one, you need a UK visa if you want to stay longer than six months. Another critical factor to keep in mind is that some migration routes are more complex than others. For example, one of the easiest ways to move to the UK is to apply for a work visa, and for that, you need to meet the qualifying criteria.
How to Move to the UK?
To move to the UK, you can apply for a long-term work visa by following these steps:
- Find employment.
- Find the correct visa type.
- Apply for the visa.
- Move to the UK.
- Get an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
You should have a job or a work offer in the UK before you plan to move so you can apply for your work visa. If you are interested in a sponsored-based visa, you have to ensure that your employer will sponsor you for a permit.
Find the Correct Visa Type
Depending on your skills and the type of work you are looking for in the UK, there are several options for immigration. So, please make sure you explore all visa options to see which one fits your profile the best.
A few of the most common work visa types include:
- Innovator visa or start-up visa.
- Skilled-worker visa.
- International sportsperson visa.
You have to make sure that the type of visa you apply for has a route for permanent residence.
Apply for the Visa
Once you know which visa you want to apply for, you must prepare your documents and submit your visa application. Usually, you have to apply for a visa at a local representative office and wait for a decision. The visa application process may take a few weeks up to months- it depends on what type of visa you applied for.
Move to the UK
If your application is successful, the visa office will send you an email or letter with the decision and details of what happens next. In addition, you will receive a sticker on your passport known as a “vignette” that will show details of your immigration status, such as the visa type, the validity of your visa, and so on.
Once you enter the UK, you have to collect your biometric residence permit (BRP) at the post office (if you applied outside of the UK). You can use your BRP as identification and proof of the right to live and work in the UK.
Remember: If you use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check” app to identify yourself, you won’t receive a “vignette” or BRP; you use online verification.
Get an Indefinite Leave to Remain
After you have lived in the UK for five years with your work visa, you can get your Indefinite Leave to Remain (Permanent Residence). Your ILR allows you to live in the UK without limitations, and then if you qualify, you can apply for citizenship.
Should I Move to The UK?
If you want to relocate to the UK, it’s important to keep in mind the pros and cons of moving to the UK:
|You have easier access to other countries in Europe from the UK if you are moving from outside of the EEA/EU countries.||Because of Brexit, everyone needs a long-term visa to the UK, and freedom of movement is limited.|
|The UK has the NHS, which offers free public health care.||Taxes may be higher (depending on where you’re from) to provide public services such as the NHS.|
|Public schools are free for legal residents.||If you live in London, the cost of living is one of the most expensive in Europe.|
|Great working opportunities and strong labor laws.||You have to live in the UK for about five years before you can apply for settled status.|
Can I Move to the UK Without a Job?
If you are exceptionally talented or wealthy or have a familial connection to the UK, you can move to the UK without a job. Instead, you can apply for one of the following visas:
- UK Ancestry Visa. You can apply for a visa if you meet the general eligibility criteria, and you can prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. Additionally, this visa is also available for Commonwealth citizens.
- British National Overseas Visa. If you can prove that you have a connection with previous Commonwealth colonies, you may be eligible for this visa.
- Investor Visa. You can get this visa if you have at least £2 million to invest in the UK.
- Global Talent Visa. You can apply for this visa if you have outstanding achievements in the following fields:
- Academia or research.
- Arts and culture.
- Digital technology.
You can also move to the UK for your studies, but student visas are short-term only in most cases.
Moving to the UK to Join Family Members
If you have family members living in the UK, you can move to join them. For this purpose, you need to apply for a family member visa:
- Family visa to join your spouse.
- Family visa to join a parent.
- Family visa for children.
- Family visa for relatives who need long-term care.
A family permit is usually valid for two and a half years, but the validity changes depending on what type of visa you have. For example, if you apply to join a fiance instead of a spouse, you can stay in the UK for six months only, after which you have to extend your visa.
How Hard Is It to Move to The UK?
It’s hard to move to the UK if you don’t have a job, family members who live there, enough money, or distinguishable talents. This also depends on where you’re from. For example, EU citizens can get a long-term visa easier than other nationalities. However, if you have employment and fulfill the visa requirements, you can move to the UK with no issues.
How Much Does It Cost to Move to The UK?
You need to have at least £1,270 when you first arrive in the UK to support yourself until you start working. But, the overall cost of moving depends on where you’re from and what kind of visa you have. Some essential costs you have to pay when you move to the UK include the following:
- The visa application fee: up to £1,400.
- Healthcare surcharge: £624 per year.
- Flight ticket: up to £500 (depending on the country).
Do You Get Free Healthcare If You Move to the UK?
You can get free healthcare provided by the NHS if you’re considered a long-term legal resident in the UK. However, with most work visas, you have to pay a healthcare surcharge yearly.
Moving to the UK With Pets
You can bring your pet to the UK if it’s are a pet cat, dog, a ferret, and:
- It has a valid microchip.
- It has a valid passport or health certificate.
- It’s vaccinated against rabies.
If you are bringing your dog with you, it must have been treated for tapeworm in no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours. Also, depending on where you are traveling from, you may be required to provide your pet’s blood tests- check the website of the Home Office for the listed countries.
If your pet does not fulfill the requirements above, they have to be quarantined for four months at an authorized premise.
Please note that you can bring other pets with you, but you need to follow other specific rules for each pet.
Moving to the UK From the EEA/EU
If you are an EEA/EU national and want to move to the UK long-term (more than six months), you need to apply for a points-based immigration visa the same way as non-EEA/EU nationals.
Before Brexit, EEA/EU citizens were free to move to the UK without a visa, but now visa-free movement applies only to short-term stays, i.e., tourism or visiting friends/family.
Can I Move to the UK Under the EU Settlement Scheme?
You can move to the UK under the EU Scheme if:
- You are an EEA/EU national and lived in the UK before 31 December 2020.
- You are the family member of someone who lives in the UK under the settlement scheme.
The EU Settlement scheme targets only EEA/EU citizens who moved to the UK before Brexit and are living in Great Britain.
Things to Keep in Mind Before You Move
You should keep in mind that a few essential things before you plan your move to Great Britain:
- Find housing. You should have a proper plan when it comes to your place of residence. If you can, try and arrange a flat or house before you move to the UK, so you don’t waste time looking at real estate after you arrive. Also, if you plan to open a bank account once you’re there, you will need a home address.
- Open a bank account. You need to have a bank account and debit cards to make most payments in the UK. To open a bank account, you must have a valid address. But, in case you don’t, you can employ relocating companies that provide this service. Some people use their friends or family members’ addresses. Either way, you should prepare yourself to overcome this obstacle during the moving process.
- Get ready to apply for a National Insurance Number. Your National Insurance Number (NINO) is the account number that tracks your insurance contributions and the taxes you pay. If you have a BRP, the number may already be stamped on the card. But, in case you don’t have one, you have to apply for the number. Keep in mind that you can apply for a NINO only after you’re in the UK.
How Do I Get UK Citizenship?
You can become a UK citizen if you’ve lived in the UK for at least five years. However, you must have had your ILR at least 12 months before submitting your application to be eligible for citizenship. In addition, you must also complete the “Life in the UK” test and prove that you have enough knowledge of the English language.
If you are an EEA/EU national, other rules apply for British citizenship.