[Please note: Since the time this post was first published, UK visa requirements have changed substantially for the Tier 1 visa. Please refer to our more recent posts outlining such change: “The UK Visa Verdict”]

One of the most frequent questions we receive at London Relocation relates to how to get started with the relocation process—first and foremost, you’ll need to apply for a UK visa.

The best resource for obtaining a UK visa application and information is the Home Office’s UK Border Agency website: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/

The documentation and explanations to be had there can be a bit hairy to navigate through, however, so I’ll distill the basic, most common visa options here as an introduction if it can hopefully be of help to  your research.  To start, the relatively new UK visa system is structured as different tiers:

– Professionals will typically apply for either a Tier 1 or Tier 2 visa:

— If you are moving to London without a job, it is still possible for you to obtain a work permit and residency under a Tier 1 visa.  This visa is for “highly skilled” migrants, and you will have to qualify as such based on a point system that awards you more points for additional education and work experience.

The plus side of this visa is that you will not have the pressure of finding employment in London first—you can move over and get settled, then tackle the job market first-hand and face-to-face, with flexibility to attend interviews on a moment’s notice and begin work immediately.  The drawback is that you don’t have a company backing you and your qualifications to help you along the visa process, you will have to pay for it yourself out of pocket, and your visa renewal will be contingent on finding employment in London within your first year here.  Entrepreneurs planning to run their own businesses in the UK would also apply under this tier.

— If you are moving to London with a job, the Tier 2 visa is what you’ll likely come in with under corporate sponsorship, for which your employer vouches for your qualifications to work in the UK and initiates the visa application process (and usually covers costs) on your behalf.

– Students (adults and children alike) will apply for a Tier 4 visa.

Tiers 3 and 5 are for “low-skilled” and temporary workers, respectively.

Obtaining a visa to live and work in the UK is essential if you are to make your dreams of living in London a reality.  Please do contact us at London Relocation if we can help further clarify the steps you should follow to make your way that much further across the world :).