Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Moving to the UK: Overview of Visa Options

Good morning, dear readers!  Are you ready for part one of this series on moving to the UK?  Also, have you read the backstories about why and how I first expatriated?  You should definitely check them out - and learn from my mistakes!

Just to recap and for those of you who are new to this blog, here's my history with moving to/from London in the past four years:

September 2008: moved to London as a post-graduate on a Tier 4 student visa (which expired in December 2009)

August 2009: returned to Washington, DC to accept a job offer

June 2010: moved to London without a job on a Tier 1 Post-Study Work visa (which expires in June 2012)

When I applied to UCL, I wasn't intending on using my course as a way to eventually get a work visa; it wasn't until early 2009 that I knew I wanted to stay in London long-term.  However, if you want to move to the UK and, for whatever reason, a further degree would help you down the road, I believe that enrolling in an accredited program and receiving a Tier 4 visa is a primary gateway into the world of living and, possibly, eventually working in the UK.  You can legally be employed in the UK while on a Tier 4 visa but are limited to 20 hours of work per week.

Frustrations aside, applying for my Tier 1 visa in spring 2010 was not difficult; see this post for more information.  It used to be possible to extend the Tier 1 visa, which is non-sponsored, but unfortunately this option was taken off the table recently.  Also, get cracking if this is something that you might want to pursue, because the Tier 1 Post-Study Work route will be closed to new applicants as of April 2012.

So what to do if you can't apply - or have already applied - for a Tier 4 or a Tier 1 visa?  Your best bet is to try for a Tier 2 visa, which is also known as a sponsored work permit.  If you decide to go for a Tier 2 visa, you'll be choosing between one of two options unless you're a sportsperson or a minister of religion, in which case you probably don't need my help.  The easiest way to be granted a Tier 2 visa is through an intra-company transfer; what this means is that your current job wants to move you to their UK office.  To be honest, I don't know too much about this route, but I think you're probably guaranteed a visa if your employer has enough muscle to have a global presence and you're important enough to be transferred.

The second and slightly trickier Tier 2 option is applying for general sponsorship; what this means is that you've been offered a job by an organization in the UK and they're willing to declare that no one in the EU can do the job better than you can.  It is relatively simple to switch into a Tier 2 visa from a Tier 1 visa as long as you're remaining in the same role at the same company throughout the process because the sponsoring organization has to jump through fewer hoops to sponsor you if you were originally hired by them on a Tier 1 visa.  However, it is difficult to be hired blind by an organization who is willing to sponsor you on a Tier 2 visa.  From what I've heard from recruiters as well as from people who have been lucky enough to be successful in this endeavor, you have a better chance of going straight on to a Tier 2 visa if you have more skills and experience.  In other words, the company can probably prove that no one in the EU can do your job better than you can if you're high on the professional food chain, but it's going to be tougher if you're entry or even mid-level.

These are the options for working in the UK that only concern you, in the instances of the Tier 4 or Tier 1 visas, or you and your employer, in the case of the Tier 2 visa.  If you are in a position to involve a British national or someone who is legally living in the UK, read on...

A Fiancé(e) visa will allow you to remain in the UK for up to six months but you cannot legally work while on this visa.

An Unmarried Partner visa will allow you to live and work in the UK for 24 or 27 months (depending on what criteria you meet) and, afterwards, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

A Spousal visa will allow you to live and work in the UK for a probationary period of two years, after which you can apply for indefinite leave to remain, or to settle permanently immediately (depending on what criteria you meet).

In addition, if you want to live and work in the UK and you are genetically blessed, you can apply for a work visa based on ancestry if you are a Commonwealth citizen and at least one grandparent was born in the UK.

Whew!  I think that's it - I hope I answered any questions you might have.  Please leave a comment if you know more than I've covered here.  I would love to start a discussion about all of this because I know it's complicated and, from experience, it really helps to feel that other people are researching and/or going through the same process as you are.

However, I do want to add two things to what I've said already:

1. Do not overstay your visa.


I'm not even kidding.  Do not remain in the UK illegally.  I read a blog recently (though I can't for the life of me remember where) in which the blogger admitted that she lived in the UK with her English boyfriend for well over a year and, because she had overstayed her tourist visa, couldn't leave the country until she was ready to move back to the US.  I cannot emphasize enough how stupid this is.  The chances that you'll be caught and deported are very slim, but if you overstay your visa, leave the country, and then try to return, you might be refused leave the enter the country ever again.  The border officials will have every legal right to bar you from coming into the UK.  Ever.  It is just not worth the risk.


2. Read and follow the directions.


Despite what a lot of people - including me, when I was going through the process - think, the border agency in the UK is not out to make your life more difficult.  They are not going to deny you a visa just because they're having a bad day.  If you are eligible for a visa and you do everything the guidance notes tell you to do when applying and they haven't filled their annual quota, you will probably be given a visa.  It really is that simple.  Make sure that you're actually eligible, read the instructions on how to apply, follow the directions, and you'll most likely be successful.  I know a woman whose visa application was denied because she hadn't submitted all of the necessary supporting documents and she was beside herself when her appeal was refused.  If your application is incomplete or incorrect the first time around and it is rejected, you have to reapply; an appeal won't do anything because you're essentially trying again using the same material that was deemed inappropriate the first place.



If you have any questions at all about any part of this process, consult a lawyer or other official advisor.    In the meantime, though, I do hope this has been useful!  Tomorrow: ways to look for (and hopefully find) work in the UK.

29 comments:

  1. A note about the fiance visa (at least when I applied): the wedding MUST be held in the UK, not in your home country. Not that I got tangled up in this one, or anything...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thought I'd weigh in here about being sponsored, as that is how I made it to the UK initially. My previous company was a US-based company owned by a UK based company. You'd think that would have made everything relatively straight forward. But it wasn't. The visa wasn't cleared until 3 days before my departure, meaning I lived out of boxes for a week not knowing whether I would leave on my scheduled departure day. The sponsored work visa is now Tier 2, which actually carries quite a significant burden of work for sponsoring companies. They need to be registered, allocate quite a lot of time for HR people to be trained in the regulations, update the Home Office quarterly on people's status (employed, promoted, pay rises, etc) - the Border Agency will also continue to ask you about your employment status for the duration of your visa. Any change must be reported otherwise your company is up for severe penalties. So Tier 2 is not actually as easy to get for Americans as you'd hope; I know a few people who are still on Tier 2 who said its a lot more invasive than the original sponsorship scheme. That said, the best advice anyone can give you beyond what Betsy wrote is to have open and continuous dialogue about this with your HR teams and your company. Thats how I wrangled a transfer, mostly because I think they wanted to shut me up! And then as Betsy says, just read the rules on the form and follow them. Easy ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'll chime in with some advice having applied for and received two visas, both within about a week's time: don't be afraid to hire an expediter! It'll cost you about $100, but these folks get the job done. It gives you the peace of mind that they have reviewed your paperwork and can let you know right away if you're missing anything. Also, in both of my experiences, my visa was shipped back to me one working day after they received my papers. ONE WORKING DAY! That's huge for procrastinators like me. I would always use an expediter for any visas in the future.

    A number of my friends are in the UK on Tier 2 visas because they were transferred here with their companies. While it's nice to not have to worry about getting your own visa, do bear in mind that this means if you want to stay in the UK you MUST stay in your job. You can't quit, and you can't get fired. That causes a lot of stress for people who are debating the already complicated decision of leaving their jobs. (And as Danielle poins out - Tier 2 visas make work for your company, so they tend to be offered primarily by large corporates with lots of experience/manpower/money.)

    @Kate - Very good to know that the fiancee visa requires the marriage to happen in the UK. I suppose you could always just get married by a magistrate here, then go have your big fancy wedding in the US if you were so inclined.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tier 1 Visa | Highly Skilled Migrants | Tier 1 Visas – Imperial Visas
    The tire 1 Visas General visa is a point based UK Immigration Service that has replaced the Highly Skilled Migrant Program and enables skilled and Professional Candidates from all over the world to come to the UK and Contribute to the growth of the Economy.

    Keywords->
    Tier 1 Visa, Highly Skilled Migrants, Tier 1 Visas.

    Contact us-> Imperial Visa
    Telephone: +44 0203 627 4777
    Fax: 0203 627 5488
    Email: info@imperialvisas.com
    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,
    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon
    Surrey CR0 2EE-58785

    http://www.imperialvisas.com/tier-1-general-visa-extension.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tier
    2 Visas, Tier 2 Visa - Global Migrate





    This
    section explains how you can come to the UK or remain here as an intra-company
    transferee under Tier 2 Visas of our points-based system.





    Keywords:-



    Tier
    2 Visas, Tier 2 Visa


    Contact Us:-


    Head
    Office (pre booked appointments only)


    International
    House,

    39 Great Windmill Street,

    Piccadilly,

    London

    W1D 7LX


    Tel: +44 (0)207
    993 4762

    Fax: +44 (0)207 691 7969

    Email: headoffice@global-migrate.com





    http://global-migrate.com/tier-2-visa.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. Tier
    2 Work Permit - Global Migrate





    Tier
    2 of the Points Based System has replaced the Previous Employer-sponsored work
    Permit system, including intra-company transfers, sportspersons and ministers
    of religion categories.


    Keywords:-



    Tier
    2 Work Permit


    Contact Us:-


    Head
    Office (pre booked appointments only)


    International
    House,

    39 Great Windmill Street,

    Piccadilly,

    London

    W1D 7LX


    Tel: +44 (0)207
    993 4762

    Fax: +44 (0)207 691 7969

    Email: headoffice@global-migrate.com





    http://global-migrate.com/tier-2-work-permit.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. Tier 2 Visas, Tier 2 Visa -
    Global Migrate



    This section explains how you
    can come to the UK or remain here as an intra-company transferee under Tier 2
    Visas of our points-based system.



    Keywords-

    Tier 2 Visas, Tier 2 Visa



    Contact Us:-

    Head Office (pre booked appointments only)

    International
    House,

    39 Great Windmill Street,

    Piccadilly,

    London

    W1D 7LX

    Tel: +44 (0)207 993 4762

    Fax: +44 (0)207 691 7969

    Email: headoffice@global-migrate.com



    http://global-migrate.com/tier-2-visa.html

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tier 1 General Visa
    Extension - Global Migrate



    Tier 1 General Visa
    Extension (General Highly Skilled) Replaced the Previous and Popular Highly
    Skilled Migrant programmed (HSMP).



    Keywords-

    Tier 1 General Visa
    Extension



    Contact Us-

    Head
    Office (pre booked appointments only)

    International
    House,

    39 Great Windmill Street,

    Piccadilly, London

    W1D 7LX

    Tel: +44 (0)207 993 4762

    Fax: +44 (0)207 691 7969

    Email: headoffice@global-migrate.com



    http://global-migrate.com/tier-1-general-visa-extension.html

    ReplyDelete
  9. Tier 2 Visa | UK Work Permit | Tier 2 Visas

    Tier 2 Visa Work Permit and Visa category
    is an employer-led process with the sponsoring company applying on behalf of
    the candidate Imperial Visa help you to get this.

    Keywords: -

    Tier 2 visa, Tier 2 Visas, Tier 2 work Permit

    Contact
    Us:-

    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44 0203 627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://www.imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visas-tier-2-visas.html

    ReplyDelete
  10. Tier 2 Visa - Imperial
    Visas



    Tier 2 Visa - The Tier 2
    visa (work permit) is the most common visa for foreign nationals in order to
    live and work in the UK. In 2008, all work permit applications were classed
    under Tier 2



    Keyword-

    Tier 2 Visa

    Contact us-

    2nd Floor
    Cygnet House

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44 0203
    627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visa.html

    ReplyDelete
  11. Tier 1 General Visa Extension - Global Migrate

    Tier 1 General Visa Extension (General Highly Skilled) Replaced
    the Previous and Popular Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP)

    Keywords: -

    Tier 1
    General Visa Extension

    Contact Us-

    Head
    Office (pre booked appointments only)

    International
    House,

    39 Great Windmill Street,

    Piccadilly,

    London

    W1D 7LX

    Tel: +44 (0)207 993 4762

    Fax: +44 (0)207 691 7969

    Email: headoffice@global-migrate.com

    http://global-migrate.com/tier-1-general-visa-extension.html

    ReplyDelete
  12. Tier 2 Visa | UK Work Permit | Tier 2 Visas

    Tier
    2 Visa Work Permit and Visa category is an employer-led process with the
    sponsoring company applying on behalf of the candidate Imperial Visa help you
    to get this.



    Keyword-

    Tier 2 visa,
    Tier 2 Visas, Tier 2 work Permit



    Contact us-

    2nd Floor
    Cygnet House

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44 0203
    627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://www.imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visas-tier-2-visas.html

    ReplyDelete
  13. Tier 1 General Visa Extension - Global Migrate

    Tier 1 General Visa Extension (General Highly Skilled)
    Replaced the Previous and Popular Highly Skilled Migrant programmed (HSMP).

    Keywords-

    Tier 1 General Visa Extension

    Contact us

    International House

    39 Great Windmill Street

    Piccadilly

    London

    W1D7LX

    Tel: +44(0)2079934762

    Fax: +44(0) 2076917969

    Email: headoffice@global-migrate.com

    http://global-migrate.com/tier-1-general-visa-extension.html

    ReplyDelete
  14. Tier 2 Visas, Tier 2 Visa - Global Migrate



    This Section explains how you Can Come to the UK or Remain here
    as an intra-Company Transferee under Tier 2 Visas of our Points-Based System.

    Keywords-

    Tier 2 Visas, Tier 2 Visa



    Contact us:

    International House

    39 Great Windmill Street

    Piccadilly

    London

    W1D7LX

    Tel: +44(0)2079934762

    Fax: +44(0) 2076917969

    Email: headoffice@global-migrate.com

    http://global-migrate.com/tier-2-visa.html

    ReplyDelete
  15. Tier 2 Visa | UK Work Permit | Tier 2 Visas

    Tier 2 Visa Work Permit and Visa category
    is an employer-led process with the sponsoring company applying on behalf of
    the candidate Imperial Visa help you to get this.

    Keywords: -

    Tier 2 visa, Tier 2 Visas, Tier 2 work Permit

    Contact
    Us:-

    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44 0203 627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://www.imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visas-tier-2-visas.html

    ReplyDelete
  16. Tier 1 General Visa Extension - Imperial Visas

    The tire 1 General Visa UK is a Point based UK
    immigration service that has replaced the Highly Skilled Migrant Program and
    enables skilled and professional candidates from all over the world to come to
    the UK and contribute to the growth of the economy.

    Keywords: -

    Tier 1
    General Visa Extension

    Contact Us:-

    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44
    0203 627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://www.imperialvisas.com/tier-1-general-visa-extension.html

    ReplyDelete
  17. Tier 2 Visa - Imperial Visas

    Tier 2 Visa - The Tier 2 visa (work permit) is the most common
    visa for foreign nationals in order to live and work in the UK. In 2008, all
    work permit applications were classed under Tier 2

    Keywords: -

    Tier 2 Visa

    Contact Us:-

    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44
    0203 627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visa.html

    ReplyDelete
  18. Tier 2 Visa - Imperial Visas

    Tier 2 Visa - The Tier 2 visa (work permit) is the most common
    visa for foreign nationals in order to live and work in the UK. In 2008, all
    work permit applications were classed under Tier 2

    Keywords: -

    Tier 2 Visa

    Contact Us:-

    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44
    0203 627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visa.html

    ReplyDelete
  19. Tier 2 Visa | UK Work Permit | Tier 2 Visas

    Tier 2 Visa Work Permit and Visa category
    is an employer-led process with the sponsoring company applying on behalf of
    the candidate Imperial Visa help you to get this.

    Keywords: -

    Tier 2 visa, Tier 2 Visas, Tier 2 work Permit

    Contact
    Us:-

    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44 0203 627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://www.imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visas-tier-2-visas.html

    ReplyDelete
  20. Tier 2 Visa - Imperial Visas

    Tier 2 Visa - The Tier 2 visa (work permit) is the most common
    visa for foreign nationals in order to live and work in the UK. In 2008, all
    work permit applications were classed under Tier 2

    Keywords: -

    Tier 2 Visa

    Contact Us:-

    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44
    0203 627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visa.html

    ReplyDelete
  21. Tier 2 Visa | UK Work Permit | Tier 2 Visas

    Tier 2 Visa Work Permit and Visa category
    is an employer-led process with the sponsoring company applying on behalf of
    the candidate Imperial Visa help you to get this.

    Keywords: -

    Tier 2 work Permit, Tier 2 visa, Tier 2 Visas,

    Contact Us:-

    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44 0203 627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://www.imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visas-tier-2-visas.html

    ReplyDelete
  22. Tier 2 Visa | UK Work Permit | Tier 2 Visas

    Tier 2 Visa Work Permit and Visa category
    is an employer-led process with the sponsoring company applying on behalf of
    the candidate Imperial Visa help you to get this.

    Keywords: -

    Tier 2 work Permit, Tier 2 visa, Tier 2 Visas,

    Contact Us:-

    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44 0203 627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://www.imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visas-tier-2-visas.html

    ReplyDelete
  23. Tier 2 Visa | Tier 2 General Visa - Imperial Visas

    Tier 2 Visa - The Tier 2 visa (work permit) is the most common
    visa for foreign nationals in order to live and work in the UK. In 2008, all
    work permit applications were classed under Tier 2

    Keywords: -

    Tier 2 Visa, Tier 2 General Visa

    Contact Us:-

    Location: 2nd Floor Cygnet House,

    12-14 Sydenham Road Croydon

    Surrey CR0 2EE

    Telephone: +44
    0203 627 4777

    Email: info@imperialvisas.com

    http://www.imperialvisas.com/tier-2-visa.html

    ReplyDelete
  24. Tier 2 Work Permit - Global Migrate

    Tier 2 Work
    Permit the Points Based System has replaced the Previous Employer-Sponsored
    Work Permit System, including intra-Company Transfers, Sportspersons and
    Ministers of Religion Categories

    Keywords

    Tier 2 Work
    Permit



    Contact Us

    Head Office (pre booked appointments only)

    International House,

    39 Great Windmill Street,

    Piccadilly, London, W1D 7LX

    Tel: +44 (0)207 993 4762

    Fax: +44 (0)207 691 7969

    Email:
    headoffice@global-migrate.com

    http://global-migrate.com/tier-2-work-permit.html

    ReplyDelete
  25. It's a good Idea for
    Tier 2
    Visa
    especially for foreign country Visa

    ReplyDelete
  26. It's a good Idea for
    Tier 2
    Visa
    especially for foreign country Visa…….

    ReplyDelete
  27. WannabeBritishIndianMay 16, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    Thank you so much for the detailed information. I graduated from the University of Bath with a master's and long to live in London but I cannot seem to find a way around it unfortunately.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Identifying some sort of PEOPLE function carte visa in which retaining international nationals within the moose sector, for example racehorse jockeys, present jumpers, equine coaches, grooms along with moose workers positions an important concern under our own latest immigration laws. Including different sectors, there are no cookie-cutter solutions in addition to choosing the best PEOPLE function visa requires good analysis on the person's backdrop in addition to a great delicate idea of the position to get conducted.

    ReplyDelete

I love reading your thoughts and suggestions! Please do leave a comment so we can get to know each other better.