UK Immigration Advice For US Citizens
With an unprecedented number of Americans now looking to leave the country to the likes of Canada, Europe, and the UK, many are seeking advice about their options and next steps.
At IAS, we have extensive experience in assisting Americans with moving to England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, whether it be to work, invest, study or live with family. As such, we have devised the following advice for those US citizens who are now seriously thinking of taking the leap across the Atlantic and answered some of the questions that we’ve already received from some of our American cousins in the wake of the referendum results.
If you’re thinking about moving to England and are looking for UK immigration advice, get in touch with our team on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online.
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If you are a US citizen and you are looking to move to the UK to stay for six months or longer, you will need to obtain the relevant visa. This needs careful consideration and the right immigration advice that takes into account your situation in its entirety in order to get the type of visa that applies most closely to you and your reasons for moving. This may be because of work, family, study or investment. You will need to apply for whichever visa type you legally need for the purpose of your proposed UK move.
As a general rule, you will be able to move to the UK providing you meet the visa requirements for your chosen visa category. We have summarised the most common of these below, and there is further information on each category contained elsewhere on our website.
If you have family or a relative living in the UK with either British Citizenship, settlement or asylum status then you may be able to apply for a Family of a Settled Person Visa. This entitles you to move to the UK for a period of six months or more. You can actually stay for up to 33 months, at which point you can then extend your visa. The requirements for this type of UK family Visa are, however, quite stringent. They require you to be over 18, and to be able to prove that your relationship with the person you will be joining is genuine and legally recognised, that you will remain living with the person during your stay and that they have adequate space for you to live. As with the majority of UK visas, you will also have to demonstrate a solid understanding of English.
UK Spouse Visas are one of the most common visa types that we deal with on a day to day basis.
If your husband, wife or civil partner is a British Citizen then you can apply through this visa category to live in the UK.
Differing from other visa types, a spouse visa will also grant you the right to work in the UK during your residency. You must be able to prove that you are legally married in the UK, that you intend to live together for the duration of your living here and be able to financially support yourself independent of any government funding. The spouse who is the British Citizen must also meet the £18,600 per year minimum income requirement for Spouse Visa applications in order for your visa to be approved.
The situation is similar if you are planning to join a boyfriend or girlfriend living in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales. You can apply under the same visa type as the above – a Family of a Settled Person Visa – or for an Unmarried Partner Visa, but there are slightly different requirements when there is no blood relation to the person you’re intending to move to the UK to join.
Again, you must be over 18, as must your partner, and able to prove that your relationship is legitimate and genuine, in addition to proving that any previous relationships with others have ceased. You will also be required to be either engaged or intending to enter into a civill partnership, and/or have been living together for a period of 2 years or more. There are also financial requirements for moving to the UK to be with your partner where you are unmarried, a minimum income of £18,600 per year to be exact. There are also further financial requirements if you are planning to bring any children with you. Where you are planning to be married or enter into a civil partnership, you must prove that you plan to do so within the first six months of your arrival in the UK.
If you are a US citizen who wants to live in the UK for a period of study, then a Tier 4 Student Visa application is the right way forward. You must already have an offer for an educational course in the UK, and have the funds available to pay for both your chosen course and your living expenses during your period of study in the UK.
When will I need my student visa?
You will need to have your student visa approved and in place prior to entering the UK, so we recommend applying three weeks prior to the start of your course to avoid disappointment. Once approved, you’ll be permitted to enter the country using your visa a week prior to your course start date.
No, the visa process for moving to England is the same as for the rest of the UK.
No, as a US Citizen moving to the UK, your visa application will not be impacted by the prospect of Britain leaving the EU, this will only have an effect on European citizens, and at the moment does not have any impact at all.
There are a number of other visas for the UK that US citizens may be eligible for, such as a Tier 1 Investor Visa or Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, which we will cover at a later date. If you require assistance on any of the visa categories above or help with your move to the UK then our expert immigration advisors can help.