From the USA to the UK – a Transatlantic Relocation Guide for UK Employers banner


From the USA to the UK – a Transatlantic Relocation Guide for UK Employers

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As we move into 2022, UK immigration solicitors are seeing a rise in enquiries from UK employers about the transatlantic relocation options for US citizens wanting to live and work in the UK. Immigration lawyers warn that transatlantic relocation does not just involve business immigration and individual immigration considerations and say UK employers and those looking to relocate from the US to the UK need to do their research and get expert legal advice.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Employment Lawyers

For advice on relocating employees from the US to the UK or with employment or immigration law call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Immigration issues and transatlantic relocation

Despite the ‘special relationship’ between the US and UK, it isn’t as simple as asking a US based employee to transfer their employment to the UK or recruiting a US citizen to fill a job vacancy in the UK and expecting them to be able to jump onto the next available flight to the UK and start work.

With transatlantic relocation comes paperwork and online form filling on the part of the UK based employer and the US based recruit or job transferee. Despite the prime minister’s assertion that the US and UK special relationship remains strong, when it comes to transatlantic relocation both UK business owners and relocating US nationals need to follow the points-based immigration system rules. That means UK companies need a sponsor licence to sponsor US employees on either an intra company transfer visa or skilled worker visa. US citizens need to meet the seventy points required under the points-based immigration system to qualify for their work visa.

In today’s age of digital working the first question that UK employers need to ask themselves is do they really need the US national to be physically present in the UK to carry out the work-related activities or can all or the majority of the employee’s work be undertaken from the US supplemented by occasional business trips to the UK. Remote working may be a step too far if the role is in business development or change management. Alternatively, immigration lawyers may advise that the permitted business immigration  activities for a visitor seeking entry clearance or an employee applying for a business visitor visa may not cover the work-related activities that the UK company needs the US based staff member to undertake whilst on work trips to the UK. Taking specialist legal advice on the option of remote overseas working can avoid going down the wrong immigration route for your company, taking into account your employee’s circumstances and the demands of the job.

Many employers who don’t already hold a sponsor licence are deterred from transferring an existing US based employee to the UK or recruiting a US citizen to fill a specialist job role in the UK because of the hassle of applying for a sponsor licence and sponsoring the individual’s employment. Sponsorship Licence lawyers say that a first application for a sponsor licence can be achieved within a matter of weeks if you already have the right systems in place or the business is happy to hand over the securing of the first sponsor licence to Sponsorship Licence lawyers and to have their company application fast tracked.

Immigration solicitors are the first to advise that hiring staff from overseas and relocating staff from the US to the UK comes with red tape and paperwork but with senior appointments global mobility may be the only way that a UK firm can achieve its goals by getting the right man (or woman) for the job.

Many firms are pleasantly surprised to learn that applying for a Home Office sponsor licence may not involve sweeping changes to existing work practices and procedures. The extent of any changes needed will depend on current HR file management and how that would fit in with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties. Some HR departments are keen to take on key personnel roles within the sponsor licence application and management whereas for other UK businesses it is best and more economic for key personnel functions and sponsor licence management to be outsourced to a sponsor management service. If your business is involved in its first transatlantic relocation and sponsorship of a US employee then some UK firms prefer to use the services of a specialist sponsor licence management service if they are only sponsoring a few senior level employees or during the first twelve or twenty four months of their sponsor licence and until HR staff are comfortable with assuming responsibility for the management of the sponsor licence and complying with sponsor licence duties.

Once the sponsor licence has been secured a UK employer can move swiftly on to issuing a certificate of sponsorship to the US citizen who is either transferring employment from the US branch of the business to the UK or taking up a new post. The individual employee will then need to be supported with making their intra company transfer visa or skilled worker visa application. With the right legal advice and the fast tracking of the application through using a priority or premium service the visa can be secured within a matter of days. If a senior employee has been identified to transfer to the UK, then immigration solicitors recommend that work is started on their work visa paperwork and application at the same time as the firm’s sponsor licence application to minimise any delay in getting the work visa.

Employment law and transatlantic relocation

Global mobility is not exclusively an immigration law concern. It is essential that both employer and employee understand the employment law related issues that flow from transatlantic relocation. For example, if the relocation of an existing employee from the US to the UK is required then their current contract of employment will need to be considered and tweaked or rewritten. The likelihood is that a new contract of employment will be required to comply with UK employment law and to provide protection for the UK based employee. For example, the new contract of employment should contain details of what the UK business is committing to pay in relocation expenses on a one off or ongoing basis.

If your firm is looking to hire US citizens to fill senior posts or wanting to transfer employees from the States to the UK then its best to ensure the process is hassle free by getting the best advice on US to UK relocation.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Employment Lawyers

For help with a sponsor licence application for US to UK relocation call the immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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