The United Kingdom is a popular destination for immigrants for many reasons. It is full of history both in its large cities and in its picturesque pastoral towns. And Brexit does not prevent England from enjoying a stable political culture that offers universal health care and extremely low levels of armed violence. Wondering how to settle in? We will describe the most common ways of obtaining permanent residence in the United Kingdom.
First of all, things first of all
Whichever route you choose to resettle in England, it will take you five years of strict compliance with the conditions of your visa and proof that you have been self-sufficient during this period to apply for permanent residence.
For the time being, EU residents are still allowed to come to the United Kingdom and start this five-year process without a visa, with only a passport. This will probably change after March 2019, when the new regulations around Brexit are fully developed and implemented, but it will still be relatively easy for citizens of an EU country to access them. If you are a citizen of an EU country or Switzerland, the rest of this article does not apply to you.
Skilled Worker Visa
Generally referred to as a Level 2 visa, you must be sponsored by a company based in the United Kingdom that is willing to offer you a job based on your professional skills. You have a better chance if you are on the list of occupations in shortage, but in recent months, the limit on this type of visa application has been consistently reached, resulting in the refusal of professionals as advanced as doctors. This does not mean that you have no chance of going down this path, but even with a qualified job offer, you may have to apply several times before you are accepted.
In addition to having demonstrable professional skills, the total points awarded to your application have a lot to do with the salary of your job offer. The minimum is £30,000 (£20,800 if you are a graduate recruit). Unfortunately, the more candidates there are, the higher this minimum wage increases. As of December 2017, the amount was £55,000 per year, unless candidates are promised doctoral-level positions or fill positions on official job vacancy lists.
Entrepreneur or investor visa
This is a level 1 visa, open to people with money to burn. Well, not burn exactly, but invest. Currently, you must have at least £50,000 to invest in a UK company in order to qualify. As with most other visas to Great Britain, you must also speak and write English well and score at least 95 points on the skills assessment.
Visa holders can stay in the United Kingdom for three years and four months before having to apply for a two-year extension. This may allow you to reach the five-year time limit for applying for permanent residence.
If you are married to a permanent resident of the United Kingdom and have lived with him or her for at least two years, you can apply for a 33-month visa. After this period, if you are still married, you can extend the visa by two years and six months, to reach this very important five-year period. After five years of good conduct, you can apply for permanent residence.
One of the weaknesses of this process is that you and your partner will need to demonstrate a minimum annual income to qualify. For you and your spouse, it’s £18,600 before taxes. With one child in tow, it is £22,400 and an additional £2,400 for each additional child. If you are a refugee, you are exempt from the requirement to have an income.
To obtain a student visa, you must be at least 16 years old, have a reserved place in a study program, be able to support yourself financially and speak and write English fluently. You cannot apply until three months before the start of your program, but decisions tend to be made within three weeks of the application.
The length of your stay in the United Kingdom depends on your study programme. But one of the advantages of a student visa is that you can apply to extend your stay in the country in order to continue your studies or undertake a new course.
Although it is certainly no one’s first choice, the United Kingdom is quite welcoming to refugees. If you have traveled to Great Britain fearing for your life and can prove that you are at risk of serious harm on your return home, you must seek asylum in the United Kingdom as soon as possible after your arrival.
After you submit your application, you will be assigned to an immigration officer. He or she will meet with you and help you connect with a legal advisor and explain your options for living in the country until your asylum application is accepted or refused. This usually takes about six months, during which time you will not be able to work. Falsifying statements on an asylum application is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment and expulsion.
A standard visitor visa allows stays of up to six months for leisure or certain approved professional activities such as meetings, shows or negotiations. If you wish to stay regularly in the United Kingdom as a visitor, it is also possible to obtain a long-stay visa for two, five or ten years. The problem is that you can only stay six months at a time, and then you have to leave and come back. But with all of Western Europe right next door, it’s relatively easy and pleasant to do.
In general, you can obtain a visitor visa if you can prove that you intend to leave Britain at the end of your stay. However, if during this period you receive a job offer, are accepted into a study program or meet your future spouse, you can apply for a new visa to meet the needs of life change.
Domestic workers in a private household visa
This visa allows you to live for up to six months in the United Kingdom with a family for whom you work in a domestic role. So, if you are a nanny from a wealthy family, start writing subliminal messages about the importance of taking a long vacation in England. Who knows, you may meet your future British wife there.
There are literally hundreds of different visas available to travel to the United Kingdom, but we have given you the main categories to which most of them belong. Don’t forget to check the UK Government’s official Visas & Immigration page to find out which option is best for you.
Because Britain is not the easiest country in the world to immigrate to and it can be expensive, consider hiring a professional immigration counsellor to guide you through this process. This can be particularly useful if you need a series of visas to reach the five-year threshold for permanent residence.
Good luck – stay calm and keep going!