UK Immigration Advice For US Citizens
Whether or not we agree with the outcome of the US Presidential Election, there have been various high profile press items since the result was revealed that showed an unprecedented number of Americans are now looking to leave the country to the likes of Canada. These are likely to be knee jerk reactions to what many see as an unfavourable outcome, as was a similar case with the EU referendum results, but there are, no doubt, those who may have been considering departing the USA anyway, for whom the prospect of a Trump presidency is enough to push them over the border.
At IAS, we have extensive experience in assisting Americans with a 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 results.
I’m an American citizen, can I move to the UK?
If you’re a US citizen and you’re looking to move to the UK to stay for 6 months or more, you’ll 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. Donald Trump isn’t a valid legal reason for looking to move – work, family, study or investment are, however, so you’ll need to apply for which ever visa type you legally need for the purpose of your proposed UK move.
As a general rule, yes, you should 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.
UK Family Visa
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 6 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’re legally married in the UK, that you intend to live together for the duration of you living here, and be able to financially support yourself independent of any government funding. Whichever spouse 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.
Unmarried Partner Visa
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 be 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’re 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’re planning to be married or enter into a civil partnership, you must prove that you plan to do so within the first 6 months of your arrival in the UK.
Student Visas for the UK
If you’re 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 3 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 the your course start date.
Do I need a different visa to move to England?
No, the visa process for moving to England is the same as for the rest of the UK.
Will my UK visa application be affected by Brexit?
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 a 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.