An American in London: A look at UK visa and immigration rules and the American citizen
By Oshin Shahiean, managing partner at OTS Solicitors
According to the latest available UK census figures, there were about 197,000 USA born citizens resident in the UK at the time of the census.
top London immigration solicitors believe that those statistics show just how popular the UK is as a tourist and work destination for USA citizens.
As a London Immigration solicitor, I am used to answering queries about visas and entry requirements from tourists and migrants. However, as USA citizens are non-visa nationals they can visit the UK for up to six months without requiring a visa to enter the UK.
Although USA citizens can enter the UK without a visa for the purposes of:
• Tourism; or
• To study; or
• To receive private medical treatment; or
• To see family; or
• To undertake some academic activities; or
• To undertake some business activities.
USA citizens need to be aware of the Immigration rules and regulations that relate to non-visa nationals. Falling foul of Immigration rules can effect a USA citizen’s ability to remain or re-enter the UK so it pays to make sure that you comply with Home Office rules and procedures.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
OTS Solicitors are specialists in Immigration law matters. The firm is recommended for Immigration law in the Legal 500. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in Immigration law.
For advice on any aspect of personal or business please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors.
USA tourist visits
top London immigration solicitors say that if a tourist has:
• A US passport; and
• An intention to stay in the UK for less than 6 months.
Then no standard visitor visa is required.
Care needs to be taken to check that a visa is not needed. If you are:
• A green card holder; or
• A legal resident of the USA but not a citizen
Then you will require a standard visitor visa to enter the UK as a tourist.
The USA passport must be valid beyond the intended stay.
USA study visits to the UK
Foreign students are an important boost to the finances of UK colleges and universities.
If you are a citizen of the USA and your period of study is for less than 6 months, then a student visa is not required.
If the course is for less than 6 months duration, it is important to bring evidence of your acceptance on the course and your outward-bound travel plans. You also need to be able to show that you have enough funds to support yourself in the UK without working.
The best London immigration solicitors emphasise the need to get specialist legal advice. For example, if you are a USA citizen and you are enrolled on a study course for less than 6 months you will need a visa if you want to work or take part in an internship whilst in the UK.
If a USA citizen plans to study in the UK for more than 6 months but less than 1 year, then they can apply for a short-term study visa.
top London immigration solicitors again emphasise the importance of checking that a visa is fit for purpose. For example, you cannot work in the UK if you enter the UK on a short-term study visa.
Accordingly, a short-term study may not be appropriate if you want to attend a work placement even if it forms part of a course.
For longer courses and periods of study or where internships or work placements are planned, you will need to apply for a Tier 4 student visa.
USA citizen travel to the UK for medical purposes
Statistically, it is far more common for a UK citizen to travel to the USA for specialist private medical treatment rather than for a USA citizen to travel to the UK.
If a USA citizen has dual British Citizenship, then they will be eligible to receive treatment from the National Health Service.
For private medical treatment, a USA citizen will require a visa if they anticipate that the treatment and recuperation before return flight to the USA will take longer than 6 months.
The best London immigration solicitors recommend applying for a visit visa if the planned treatment may take longer than 6 months to complete.
USA citizen trips to the UK to see family members
If a USA citizen plans to visit family for less than 6 months then a visa is not required.
However, it is important that if you are intending to visit family in the UK rather than enter the country for tourism that you can provide details of:
• The family members you will be staying with; and
• Your outbound travel plans; and
• Ability to pay for yourself while in the UK, without having to find work.
USA citizen travel to the UK for business and academic activities
If you are a USA citizen and you want to enter the UK for less than 6 months then you can carry out a limited number of business and academic activities whilst in the UK without requiring a visa.
Permitted business and academic activities include:
• Attending conferences and meetings; and
• Attending specified training events; and
• Performing as an entertainer or musician; and
• Carrying out academic research or activities such as lectures; and
• Participating in sports events; and
• Advocating in legal proceedings.
top London immigration solicitors advise that it is important to get specialist legal advice on whether a visa will be required if you intend to carry out any business or academic activities. For example, if you enter the UK intending to carry out business related activities you cannot do paid or unpaid work.
If you are planning to work in the UK or want to set up a business in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa. Your visa options include:
• Entrepreneur Visa; or
• Investor Visa; or
• Tier 2 (General) visa; or
• Tier 2 Intra country transfer visa
How can OTS Solicitors help?
OTS Solicitors are specialist in Immigration law matters.
For advice on entry to the UK and visa requirements, visa options and applications or any other aspect of UK Immigration personal or business law, please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.