The UK is a desirable relocation destination for many people in countries all over the globe, including the USA. According to 2019 statistics, the country is home to approximately 6.2 million ex-pats, with the USA dominating the UK expatriate population at 10%.
Among the reasons Americans move to the UK are work, education, the environment, the culture, joining family, or easy access to other European countries. However, the process is not that simple and requires ample preparation beforehand. So, below are the essential preparation guidelines to follow, making moving from USA to UK easier.
Apply for A Visa
Regardless of your reasons, you cannot move to the UK without a visa. Therefore, you need to apply for a UK visa and submit your approval before making any relocation plans.
The UK’s immigration department has a tier system for vetting and awarding visas to foreign citizens seeking residency. Below is a breakdown of the country’s point-based, five-tier visa system. Applicants must pass a point-based assessment to qualify for a UK visa under a specific tier.
Tier 1 Visas
The UK’s immigration department awards tier 1 visas to foreigners considered high-value applicants, who will inject instant value into the UK’s economic, social, and research arenas. Applicants likely to qualify for tier one visas include investors with at least £2 million for investment in the UK.
The second group includes entrepreneurs with substantial shares in an existing business seeking to relocate their business operation to the UK or start a new branch. The third are exceptionally talented individuals (geniuses) in the arts and sciences.
Tier 1 UK visas remain valid for forty months (three years four months), and the applicant can apply for a two-year extension when the said duration lapses. However, such visas are pretty costly and have substantially low approval rates.
Tier 2 Visas
The UK’s immigration system typically awards tier 2 visas to highly skilled foreign applicants outside the European Union. Skilled workers do not have to be exceptionally talented, as with tier 1 applicants above, but they should have exceptional experience in specific industries.
Engineering and IT are among the professional fields where highly skilled professionals qualify for tier 2 visas. Tier two visas are valid for five years and 14 days, although your total stay cannot exceed six years, even with an extension.
Tier 3 Visas
Initially, the UK’s immigration department issued tier 3 visas to unskilled workers during unskilled labor shortage instances in various industries. However, the unskilled labor visa program currently remains suspended.
Tier Four Visas
Essentially, tier 4 visas are student visas. Therefore, students accepted to study undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs in UK-based tertiary institutions qualify for tier visas. The institution offering such students a place to study acts as its sponsor.
Tier 5 Visas
Tier 5 visas cover temporary workers like government-approved exchange program workers and clergy persons posted to work in UK dioceses.
Although the UK visa tier system focuses on employment and learning, you can also apply for a UK ancestry visa or a family visa. You can view UK visa application requirements in designated UK government portals that vet and tell you whether you need a visa and recommend the ideal visa for your situation.
Find A Job in the UK
The UK’s point-based 5-tier visa system favors highly employable applicants to avoid raising the country’s unemployment economic burden. The UK’s immigration authorities want assurance that you can comfortably support yourself financially during your stay in the county.
Applying for jobs in the UK beforehand should boost your visa approval odds. Moreover, your prospective employer can also sponsor your work visa, improving your chances by supporting your entry into the UK.
Ensure You Have An Active Bank Account With A Sufficient Account Balance
You may qualify for a UK visa if you do not have a job awaiting you in the UK (e.g., student visas). However, you have to prove that you have ample funds in your bank account to support yourself during your stay in the UK.
Although there is no set minimum account balance to qualify you for a UK visa, the country’s immigration authorities consider factors like your monthly income, savings, and spending habits. UK residents typically pay for services with debit cards, so transferring your funds to a registered UK bank is convenient. However, you need a residential address to apply for a UK bank account.
Consider Your Access to Healthcare
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) offers free medical services like consultation, accident/emergency care, and specialized treatment (if referred by a general practitioner) to permanent UK residents. However, UK visa holders have to pay an annual surcharge to receive the NHS’s medical services, except for visa holders whose visas exempt them from the surcharge (e.g., health workers).
Although the NHS’s services are up to par, private medical insurance is also an option, albeit costlier. So, consider your healthcare options beforehand.
Consider Relocation Transportation Costs
You can travel to the UK from the USA either by water or air. Most flights from the US to the UK take approximately nine to 10 hours, depending on your departure location. Alternatively, you can travel via cruise ship, which takes roughly a week, is cheaper but not available all year round. Also, note that special rules apply when relocating to the UK with a pet, including the number of pets, pet type, and travel route.
File USA Taxes
You will need to file expatriate tax returns to the US government annually, so comply to avoid unnecessary encounters with the IRA.
The UK has plenty to offer US expatriates, including beautiful natural surroundings, calm, and culture. Although the relocation process might take some time, it will all be worthwhile pursuing your dreams in the UK. So, consider the guidelines below as you begin your relocation process.