While it may be exciting to plan your relocation to London, the truth is that unless you are being seconded to London as part of an international relocation jobs program, you will find it difficult to get permission to live and work in London as an individual. This may have some impact on partners and spouses who intend on accompanying their ‘working partner’ across the pond.
There has been an overall tightening of immigration to the UK. In an attempt to bring down the total numbers of people living and working in the UK from foreign countries, the government tightened the requirements for visas and dropped the total numbers of people who are granted the right to work and live in the UK.
Each country has been given a quota: For Americans moving to London this can even affect employment with an American company in the city. Tier 1 visas, which are for highly skilled individuals without employer sponsorship the maximum amount of visas issued per year is 5,400. For a Tier 2 visa, which is granted if you are sponsored by an employer, the number is 18,700.
What these numbers mean for Americans planning their relocation to London is that it may be more difficult to get a visa to work. This can be particularly difficult if you are a spouse of partner. You may have the right to live in the UK with your partner, but unless you have a visa you will not be allowed to work there.
This has meant that multi-national organizations; many of whom move people around the world regularly may be stopped by the quota system of visas and the institution of limits. It’s not all bad news though, the British government is always reviewing their policies, and the immigration cap on highly skilled workers may eventually be higher than before.
What is important is that you discuss everything with your employer before you start planning your international relocation. If you intend to apply separately for a visa for your spouse, you will want to get the application in at least four months before you consider moving to London.
If you are already here and wish to renew your visa, you are also advised to apply sooner rather than later.