Moving abroad to the UK can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also requires careful planning and preparation. One of the most important aspects of moving abroad is obtaining a visa that allows you to enter and stay in the UK legally. Depending on your nationality, purpose of visit, and duration of stay, you may need a different type of visa to come to the UK. In this article, we will explain the main types of visas available for people who want to move abroad to the UK, and what are the requirements and procedures to apply for them.
Do You Need a Visa to Come to the UK?
The first step to moving abroad to the UK is to check if you need a visa to enter the country. This depends on your nationality, as well as the length and purpose of your visit. You can use the online tool Check if you need a UK visa to find out if you need a visa and what type you need.
Generally speaking, you do not need a visa to visit the UK for up to 6 months if you are:
- An Irish citizen
- A citizen of an EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein who has settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- A citizen of a Commonwealth country who has the right of abode in the UK
- A citizen of a country that has a visa waiver agreement with the UK, such as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, etc.
However, even if you do not need a visa to visit the UK, you may still need one if you want to work, study, or stay longer than 6 months in the UK. In that case, you will need to apply for a visa before you travel.
What Are the Main Types of Visas for Moving Abroad to the UK?
If you need a visa to come to the UK, or if you want to stay longer than 6 months in the UK, you will need to choose a visa that suits your purpose and circumstances. There are many types of visas available for people who want to move abroad to the UK, but here are some of the most common ones:
- Visitor visa: This is for people who want to visit the UK for up to 6 months for tourism, business, family visits, medical treatment, or short-term studies. You cannot work or study long-term on this visa. You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa or a Marriage Visitor visa depending on your reason for visiting.
- Student visa: This is for people who want to study in the UK for more than 6 months at an accredited institution. You must have a confirmed place and a sponsor (usually your school or university) to apply for this visa. You can also work part-time or full-time during holidays on this visa.
- Work visa: This is for people who want to work in the UK for more than 6 months in a skilled or shortage occupation. You must have a job offer and a sponsor (usually your employer) to apply for this visa. There are different categories of work visas depending on your skills, qualifications, and salary level.
- Family visa: This is for people who want to join their family members who are already living in the UK as citizens or permanent residents. You must prove your relationship and meet certain financial and English language requirements to apply for this visa.
- Settlement visa: This is for people who want to settle permanently in the UK after living there legally for a certain period of time (usually 5 years). You must meet certain criteria such as having no criminal record, passing an English test and a Life in the UK test, and paying a fee to apply for this visa.
How to Apply for a Visa to Move Abroad to the UK?
Once you have chosen the right type of visa for your situation, you will need to follow these steps to apply for it:
- Fill out an online application form at Visa4UK website or UK Visas and Immigration website depending on your visa type.
- Pay the visa fee online using a credit or debit card.
- Book an appointment at a visa application center near you where you will submit your biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) and supporting documents.
- Attend your appointment and submit your biometric information and supporting documents. The documents may vary depending on your visa type, but generally include:
- Your valid passport
- Two passport-sized photographs
- Proof of financial means
- Proof of accommodation
- Detailed travel itinerary
- Tuberculosis test results (if applicable)
- UK visa invitation letter (if applicable)
- UK cover letter (if applicable)
- Wait for the decision on your visa application. The processing time may vary depending on your visa type, but usually takes between 3 to 15 working days. You can track your application status online or by email or SMS.
- Collect your passport and visa from the visa application center or have it delivered to your address.
Moving abroad to the UK can be a great opportunity to explore a new culture, pursue your education or career goals, or reunite with your loved ones. However, it also requires careful planning and preparation, especially when it comes to obtaining a visa that allows you to enter and stay in the UK legally. By following the steps and tips outlined in this article, you can make your visa application process easier and smoother, and increase your chances of getting your visa approved. We wish you all the best in your journey to moving abroad to the UK!