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United Kingdom (UK) - Expats

Increasingly prevalent is the desire for citizens to leave their birth country and become a citizen of a different nation. If someone moves to a new country, either temporarily or permanently, that person is considered to be an expatriate. A variety of reasons exist for these changes such as work, family ties, and dissatisfaction with living conditions. Certain countries have very strict rules regarding who can enter their borders and who cannot. The United Kingdom requires all new citizens to demonstrate values that would aid the UK in becoming a stronger and better country.

The United Kingdom sees a high level of expatriate activity, both into and out of the country. Many Asian countries specifically target British expats and as a result of this the continent has seen an increase in British residents among its population. A number of British people also move to other European countries with warmer climates. In light of the increasing popularity of expatriate life, it is unsurprising that the number of migrants coming into the United Kingdom is about 7.5 million per year. The BBC states that over the past decade, 41% of foreigners have claimed state-sponsored benefits such as health care and voting rights.

Most people who emigrate to the UK move to England, however some do head to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. According to the BBC, approximately 515,000 expats live in North West England, with Yorkshire, Humber, and the East Midlands each seeing an expat population of 400,000. The largest number of expats - approximately 900,000 migrants - live in the South East. South West England has about 350,000 expats. Roughly 500,000 migrants have taken up residence in London, making it the most populated city for expatriates. Wales’ numbers show roughly 150,000 expats, whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland have less than 100,000 expats each.

Top Reasons to Become an Expat in the UK

Some of the main reasons for moving to the United Kingdom are business-related relocations and the National Health Service (NHS). Corporations scout workers from around the world in the hope of bettering their economy and competition. Scientists, computer technicians, researchers, and multi-lingual staff members are sought to enhance corporations. Family is also a strong decision-making factor; often when a person finds a job in the UK, they then work to relocate their family members to be closer together. Whole communities have been started after one or two families moved to the UK to work, with their relatives following later. Another reason for expats to move to the UK is education. Many come with the intention of gaining a four-year degree at a British university and end up being employed by a UK company upon graduation. The intention of some education-bound expats is to get a degree and then use the education to benefit those in their home country; however, many students look for the best post-education employment opportunities, regardless of location, to support their families.

Expats’ Daily Lives

Businesses in the UK are generally welcoming towards expats and migrant workers, however some expats report experiencing the “British cold shoulder” upon arrival. While being accepted might at first prove challenging, once an expat’s value is shown it is possible to make friends in the new environment. Inviting and being invited to friends’ homes, going to local restaurants and enjoying cultural activities will soon become part of life. Any effort to adapt to a new country will be welcomed. Many expats without families tend to find a significant group of friends and ultimately become UK citizens.

Unemployment issues can severely affect expats’ chances of finding work; currently, unemployment stands at 7% across the UK, with some areas of the country suffering from higher rates than others. In areas where unemployment is a particularly acute problem, locals may be less welcoming to expats who have relocated for work. Many UK citizens who can afford to make the move abroad have done so to get away from local unemployment issues.

In order to become an expat in the United Kingdom, a person must fit the list of visa requirements, which can be work, school, or family based. Any visa will have a time limit after which expats can extend their stay, move back home, or apply for full citizenship.

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