9 August 2022
This article summarises a few of the more commonly used UK visa routes (other visa routes may be available depending on the individual's circumstances). In future articles in this series, we will consider the tax implications for US individuals moving to the UK.
In February 2022 the UK Home Office closed the Tier 1 Investor Visa. This was the preferred route for most high net worth individuals, who in exchange for a minimum £2 million investment in UK securities (among other requirements), could live, work and study in the UK. While we are waiting to hear if this route may reopen in Autumn 2022, US individuals who would like to move to the UK may want to consider one of the following visa options.
A Skilled Worker visa is a UK sponsored work visa which allows UK employers who hold or apply for, a sponsor licence to recruit non-British workers to fill a skilled vacancy in the UK. This visa is not a general right to work for any UK business.
When the UK employing business secures its sponsor licence from UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) (the division of the Home Office that manages work visa applications) it needs to issue the applicant with a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS), as evidence that there is a genuine skilled vacancy for them in the UK that meets the sponsorship requirements. The role must be a skilled one that is on a list of eligible occupations, pay a minimum salary (which depends on the type of work), and meet the English language requirements. Visas can be granted for up to five years and can lead to settlement (UK permanent residency) in the UK after five years' continuous stay in the UK.
A GBM visa is a sponsored UK visa for non-British employees of overseas group businesses coming to the UK on a temporary assignment to work in the group's linked UK entity/office. As with the Skilled Worker visa, the UK employing business must hold a sponsor licence and issue applicants with a COS. A notable difference however is that an individual cannot obtain settlement with a GBM visa. Workers under this visa can remain in the UK for a maximum period of five years in any six-year period, or nine years in any ten-year period for those on a high-earner salary. Visa holders can change their visa to a sponsored Skilled Worker visa at any time.
The HPI visa is a newly introduced personal visa that does not require sponsorship. Holders can use the visa to look for or perform work in the UK - a job offer is not required.
To qualify applicants must have graduated from one of only 50 eligible universities outside the UK (mainly in the USA or Canada) in the previous five years. Applicants must meet an English language and financial requirement; they must demonstrate they have access to funds to support themselves while they are in the UK finding work.
The HPI visa period is two years, or three years if the applicant has a PhD or doctoral qualification. The visa cannot be extended, meaning holders need to find a different route (eg a sponsored Skilled Worker visa) if they plan to remain in the UK beyond the HPI visa period.
Most importantly time spent in the UK on the HPI visa does qualify towards settlement.
As well as assisting applicants with their visa process, our immigration team works with numerous companies setting up UK subsidiaries for our client's businesses and applying to the UKVI for sponsorship licences as well as managing day-to-day immigration compliance and management. Do contact us if you have a question you would like to discuss.
Please note that this general guidance is correct as of publication but is not a substitute for legal advice. Immigration laws are always subject to change.