Data from the United Nations show that the UK is one of the top 5 countries with the highest number of immigrants. People move to the UK for various reasons, such as schooling, business, career, or family. While some plan to stay in the country for a number of years and then return to their home country, others want to stay permanently.
If you plan to permanently move to the UK this year, there are certain things you should know before beginning the process. You’ll find all the main information you need in this guide.
As a foreigner, to obtain permanent residency in the UK, you need to first get a visa and reside in the country for a particular number of years before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (settlement). This is discussed in detail below:
First Step: Get A Visa
You need a visa before you can travel to the UK. The type of visa you apply for determines your chances of getting permanent residency. This is because the duration spent on some visas counts towards permanent residency while others do not.
It’s crucial that you apply for the right visa type and your best chances are with work visas. Specifically, long-stay work visas that allow you to stay in the UK for up to 2 years and more. Some work visas even allow beneficiaries to apply for settlement almost immediately.
For permanent residency, you shouldn’t apply for short-stay visas. These are visas that expire within months to a year. Such visas usually don’t count towards residency, and you can only extend your stay in special, rare circumstances.
Aside from work visas, other options are family visas. If your family member – partner, parent, or child – is a British citizen or has settlement status, you should apply for a family visa. If you’re not sure, you can consult UK immigration lawyers to find out the best visa option for you.
You’ll have to apply for your visa from your home country. For this, you must complete an online application, submit your documents, pay the visa processing fee, and attend a visa interview. You’ll get your visa if you meet all the requirements and satisfy the immigration officer at your interview.
Second Step: Move To The UK
After getting your visa, you can travel to the UK. While travelling, ensure you carry all proofs of visa qualification as you’ll submit them at the port of entry (POE). Border control officers have the prerequisite to deny or grant a traveller entry at the POE.
If you pass border control, you should receive a residence permit (valid until when your visa expires). Before travelling to the UK, you must have arranged accommodation. If you’re coming on a work visa with sponsorship by your employer, then they should provide accommodation for you.
Likewise, if you’re coming on a family visa, you’re the responsibility of your family member who is a British citizen or has settled status in the UK. Your visa type will dictate what you can and cannot do. You must abide by the rules of your visa as it could be canceled for breaching.
If you’re on a work visa, for instance, you’ll have to pay tax. Tax is mandatory if you receive wages, benefits, pension, or savings interest; this applies to both employed and self-employed persons. Also, you’ll have to register for a National Insurance (NI) number.
Since you plan to permanently reside in the country, you’ll also have to open a bank account, register for healthcare, etc.
Third Step: Apply For Indefinite Leave To Remain
Applying for indefinite leave to remain is the ultimate process if you want to permanently move to the UK. Also known as settlement, this status lets you live, work, and study in the UK permanently. Once you get indefinite leave to remain, you’re not very far from becoming a British citizen.
Generally, you need to reside in the UK for up to 5 years before you can apply for settlement. However, as mentioned before, time spent on some visas doesn’t count. There are also rules on time spent outside the UK within the 5 years. Once again, employing the services of UK immigration lawyers will help you understand your chances.
Some work visas – tier 1 visas, Innovator visas, and Global Talent visas for example – require just 2 to 3 years of residency. Application for Indefinite Leave To Remain is online. You’ll need to meet English language requirements and pass the Life in the UK Test. If you’re on a work visa, you may also need to meet some salary requirements.