How to Move to the UK from the US

If you’re hoping to move to the UK from the United States, there are a few different routes you can take. Here we’ll look at some of the options for US citizens who want to move to the UK.

Unless you’re an EU, EEA or Switzerland citizen, you’ll almost certainly need a visa to live and work in the UK. Please note if you are just visiting for a short time rather than moving (usually under 6 months), the below will likely not apply.

Please consult your local embassy and/or professionals for advice on your particular situation. The below are researched tips and are not intended to be legal or financial advice.

What kind of USA to UK visa do I need?

The UK government provide a useful guide on their website for US citizens moving to the UK. You can fill out your circumstances and it will direct you to more information on the type of visa you may require. Have a look here.

The majority of people fit into one of three categories: visiting for work, joining family/partner/spouse who is already a UK citizen, or studying. Let’s take a look…


US to UK Study Visa (Tier 4 General Visa)

You can apply for a study visa (and need to) if you are attending a UK college or university for over 6 months, or an English language course for over 11 months. Short-term study visas are also available.

You’ll need to be 16+ years old and have already been accepted on a course. There are also English language requirements and financial requirements to ensure you can support yourself.

There are limits on when you can arrive and how long you can stay is dependent on a number of factors. See the full and official UK government guidelines for student visas here.

If you’re joining family or your partner in the UK

If you have a partner or family member who is a UK, EU or EEA citizen living in the UK, there may be a few different options for you to move from the US to the UK. This includes a “family of a settled person” visa, moving as a dependant of a family member with an existing visa, or a family permit to join for a long stay.

There are also Marriage Visitor Visas for those travelling to the UK to get married or enter into a civil partnership.

Take a look at all the options for joining your family or partner in the UK here and here

US to UK Work Visas

If you’re moving to the UK and intend to work or do academic research, you will need a visa. There are a few different types:

  • Tier 2 (General) Visa for skilled workers – you will need to be sponsored by a licensed company for this type of visa. This visa allows you to work in the UK for up to 5 years and 14 days, with possible extension. View the eligibility criteria and full details.
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Visa – if you are moving to the UK branch of a company you already work for. Please note depending on the type of role, there are minimum eligibility requirements for how long you have been with your existing company before transferring. Take a look at the full details or ask your employer about any upcoming opportunities. Usually they will offer some help in completing the process.
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa – if you want to start a business in the UK. There is a minimum level of access to investment funds you must reach to be eligible for this visa. Read more on the UK government website.

There are also some more specific Tier 2 visas for religious jobs or elite sportspeople/coaches, and Tier 5 for temporary work including as a volunteer, in a charity, in entertainment/the arts and some other categories.

There are also more types of Tier 1 visas for “high value” workers. This includes investors, and leaders in arts/sciences.

Read more about all US to UK work visas for 6+ months.

Other options

Check your UK, EEA or EU ancestry to see if you might be eligible for citizenship through your parents or grandparents.

Let us know your experiences and visa tips/questions in the comments!

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