Learn from the experiences of other expats and make new friends in our disccussion forums and Facebook groups
The Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad contains everything you need to know when planning an international relocation available now, completely free
Insurance, FX and international movers
The Expat Focus podcast features interviews with expats living abroad and service providers meeting their needs subscribe today!
From our tax, investment and FX partners
Expat Focus Partners

Become a Partner. Click Here.

United Kingdom (UK) - Visas

The UK has very specific rules concerning a person's reasons for becoming an expat. Typically, several visas exist for getting into a foreign country, such as work or school visas. It is important to enter the UK with the proper visa. A valid passport is also required. Certain foreign nationals are not subject to the standard visa regulations, such as citizens of EU or EEA states. Students or professional organisation members such as journalists or clergy do not need a work permit, but all other workers must apply for one prior to entry.

Work Permits

For those entering the UK on a business assignment, the employer should fill out the necessary work permit paperwork in which Tier 1 or Tier 2 will apply. After a person has been working in the UK for a certain amount of time, a work permit may no longer be necessary. Anyone who has lived in the country for over three years has the opportunity to remain without a work permit even if they change jobs. The British Home Office and British Embassy/Consulate can offer further details about specific timeframes, paperwork, and visas required to move into the UK.

Ancestry Visa

The Ancestry Visa is available to Commonwealth citizens who can prove that their grandparents were born in the UK. It is a visa that is not often used and is in jeopardy of disappearing soon. Commonwealth citizens do include a listing from all European Union countries and UK territories. While the Ancestry Visa may disappear in coming years, there is bound to be something along the same lines to ensure that expats can gain citizenship in the UK for family reasons.

Family Visa

Workers are able to move their families with them; however, it can take longer for family members’ visas to be approved. A person may have to work in the UK for months before their family is able to join them.

Travel Visas

If visiting for a non-permanent reason such as travel, a Visa is not required unless a specific number of days pass. Like most European countries, it is possible to stay and travel throughout the UK for six months. Anything over six months will require a travel visa that specifies the reason for staying longer than the allotted time. A visitor is unable to extend or change their stay beyond six months in most cases. Some circumstances may allow for the visitor to change to immigration status without going home and applying for the correct visa. Travel visas also change based on country of origin. For European and US citizens the limit is six months without a visa. Anyone travelling from other countries, such as the Middle East, will need a visa no matter how long they intend to stay. Obtaining a visa can be wise, given that the reason for travel may change or records may be lost whilst in the UK. A person with a criminal record wishing to travel has to apply and get a visa regardless of their country of origin.

Study Visas

Since studying abroad usually requires more than a six month period in the UK, a study visa will be necessary. The visa will only be given for the specific period of time required for the course. However, a new study visa can be obtained as long as the original visa has not expired. This process takes time, so starting early to renew or apply for a visa is important.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

An expat is defined as a person temporarily or permanently living in a country that is not their own. Official permission must be granted if someone wishes to permanently settle in the UK. Immigration status will begin as soon as a person applies for permanent residency. At this point the person will no longer need a visa, but will have to obtain a UK passport. Dual citizenship is sometimes an option, however most will have to renounce their original citizenship and apply for British Citizenship. The application process for settlement is through the SET or Biometric Residence Permit. The rules on how to apply, who can apply, and the application process can change. It is important to check with the British Embassy, UK Consulate, or Border Agency for current rules and procedures.

UK Border Agency

Expat Health Insurance Partners


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.

Copyright © 2019 Expat Focus. All Rights Reserved. Use of this website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use/Privacy Policy. Comments are property of their posters.
Interactive software released under GNU GPL, Code Credits, Privacy Policy