This is quite a serious post with lots of links and facts about how to apply for a UK visa. Please scroll on if this isn't what you're looking for.
I get a lot of questions about how to move to the UK from the States. Here is a quick guide to some of the things you need to know and think about if you have to get a visa before moving to the UK. There are plenty of good resources and guides online and getting a visa is a big thing, so I also suggest you do a lot of googling yourself and talk to both embassies and experts before you start the process.
Visas and stuff
If you have a grandparent with a European passport you might also be able get one, however this depends on what country your grandparent came from. This isn’t a quick fix and it will most likely be a slow and bureaucratic process. However it can be a good option for those with grandparents from the right European countries.
Here is how to do it:
The European Union has 28 member states (at the moment). Once you know which country your grandparent came from, check with that country’s embassy in your country to find out if you can apply for citizenship and a passport based on your grandparent’s history.
Ehow has put together a check-list of what you need to do next, which is to hunt down lots and lots of papers and certificates.
Find out all the information concerning your European grandparent and gather all documents surrounding her birth and immigration. Obtain your grandparent’s birth records from the records department of the country, city and/or county of her birth if you do not already possess them. If necessary, obtain your grandparents’ marriage certificate and immigration records or a copy of your European grandparent’s green card or passport.
Once you’ve established that you can become a citizen of a European country through your grandparent you can make your application for citizenship, which can take a long time. In Italy, for example, the process can take several years.
Once your citizenship is confirmed, you will be able to apply for a passport, which you can do via the country’s embassy.
More on this
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The UK visa system now operates on a points system, which means that it is easier for you to move to the UK if you happen to be the sort of person who the government thinks can do a lot of good in the UK. What this means in reality is that it’s easier to move here if you have a lot of money.
You can get a visa through the Tier 1 route if you’re an entrepreneur, graduate entrepreneur, investor or if you’re exceptional talented.
For everyone else there is the second tier.
These visas must be sponsored by an employer. You can get the Tier 2 General permit if your employer can demonstrate that your job can’t be filled by a local worker. Your employer will apply for this visa before you arrive in the UK, so in order to get this sort of visa you will need to have a job before arriving in the UK.
Also not all employers can sponsor visas. You will need to earn a minimum of £20,500 per year in order to get this work visa in the UK, although there are a couple of exceptions to this rule.
If you are transferring with your existing employer you can get a Tier 2 ICT – inter company transfer visa. That’s the option for you if the company you work for has offices in the UK and would agree to send you here.
Image via April takes photos.
Studying can be expensive in the UK and the fees are higher for students from non-EU countries than for UK and EU students. If you choose to study here you can get the Tier 4 visa. But when your studies are finished you will need to apply for a different type of visa or move back home.
You can apply for a Tier 4 General student visa if you’re 16 or over and you:
- have been offered a place on a course
- can speak, read, write and understand English
- have enough money to support yourself and and pay for your course – this will vary depending on your circumstances
- are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
- you meet the other eligibility requirements
How long it will take?
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the start of your course and you should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.
How long you can stay?
You can arrive in the UK before your course starts, up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less, up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs has a pretty up to date guide on how long you can stay in the UK on a student visa. But keep in mind that these things keep changing all the time.
You can find out more about Tier 4 visas on the gov.uk website.
There is also a Tier 5 visa for temporary workers with a job offer, participants in the youth mobility scheme, domestic workers in a private household or representatives of an overseas business.
Image via Tom Arber.
If you’re married to or if you marry a British or EU citizen you can apply to remain in the UK with family. Now it’s probably only worth doing this if you actually love the person in question and want to get married. The government is cracking down on immigration and “visa marriages” have been a target. Unfortunately sometimes genuine weddings have been gate-crashed by the police. Just something to keep in mind.
Your family member or partner can:
- be a British citizen
- have settled in the UK
- have asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK
- You may also be able to apply to remain with your child if they have lived in the UK for at least 7 years.
There are some exceptions however. For example if you’re applying for a five year visa you and your partner will need to earn £18,600 per year for you, £22,400 if you have one child and £2,400 for each additional child.
The British government is making it ever more difficult for loved ones to be reunited in the UK in an attempt to crack down on immigration. But as with all of the other options above a good place to start if you want to get a spousal visa is the gov.uk website.
I’m not a legal or immigration expert, I’m just a writer typing away at this small website. This post mainly contains links and some (hopefully) useful advice. I suggest you also look for answers yourself and talk to lawyers, government agencies or embassies who might be able to help. Good luck!
Top image by Justin Liebow.