US ExPats in the Middle East Looking to Relocate to the UK
A series of immigration articles on US immigration to the UK
Are you an expat in the Middle East looking to relocate to the UK? If you are then you are not on your own as UK immigration solicitors are receiving an increased number of enquiries from US expats looking at moving from the Middle East to the UK. In this article we look at US expat to UK relocation options.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
US expats relocating
It has been a year like no other. However, when UK immigration solicitors talk to US expats living in the Middle East one thing shines through the conversations; how the COVID-19 global pandemic has made many people rethink where they want to live and work long term. You would think that US expats would want to return home to the US from the Middle East but surprising numbers want to relocate to the UK and make the UK their home. Other US expats are being sent to the UK as their US or Middle Eastern employers see business opportunities in the UK after Brexit and want to take advantage of the fact that the UK is no longer an EU member state in terms of deregulation whilst being in close geographic proximity to the EU. To gain the benefits of business relocation or expansion in the UK some key expat US staff are being asked to relocate from the Middle East to the UK.
Who is an expat?
When it comes to US nationals looking to relocate from the Middle East to the UK one of the first things a UK immigration solicitor will ask you about is your nationality. That is because in the UK you can be called an expat if you move to live in a new country, such as a country in the Middle East, on a temporary or long-term basis but do not relinquish your nationality of origin. In the UK the term expat also covers a person who has moved to a new country and renounced their nationality of origin. In the US when the term ‘expat’ or expatriate is used it normally refers to a person who has renounced US citizenship or their green card.
If you have renounced your US citizenship your UK business immigration solicitors or individual immigration lawyers will need information about your current nationality. That is because if you remain a US citizen you won't need a visa to visit the UK for a visit of less than six months. However, if you have renounced US citizenship then you may need a visa to enter or transit the UK if you are classed as a national of:
- Palestinian territories
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
If you are a US expat then, whether you retain your US citizenship or not, you will require a visa if you want to come to the UK for six months or longer or if you want to come to the UK for less than six months to work in work related activities that are not classed as ‘permissible business’ activities that you can undertake under the UK immigration rules whilst visiting the UK.
The UK points-based immigration system does not distinguish its treatment of those looking to relocate to the UK on a long term or permanent basis so under the UK immigration rules you will need to apply for a visa and meet the same eligibility criteria whether you are a national of the US still or a citizen of a Middle Eastern country.
US expat to UK visa relocation options
Your US expat to UK visa relocation options will depend on why you want to move to the UK ; is it to set up a business, to work or to join family or a combination of these reasons. Many US expats have more than one visa option so it is best to look at all your options to assess which visa route gives you the most flexibility and enables you to apply to settle in the UK as early as possible if that is your planned goal.
Business visa options include:
- The start-up visa – you will need endorsement from a governmentauthorised endorsing body to secure either a start-up visa or an innovator visa.
- The innovator visa – this business visa is for the experienced entrepreneur.
- The sole representative visa – if you are an employee of an overseas based company who wants to send you to the UK to set up a new branch office or subsidiary company of the overseas parent company in the UK.
- Investor visa.
- The global talent visa – this may be the visa for you if you are a leader in your field or show promise.
Work visa options include:
- The skilled worker visa.
- The intra company transfer visa – if your employer is an overseas based employer and you are being transferred to a UK branch of the international company.
- The graduate visa.
- The temporary work visa.
Family visa options include:
- The spouse visa.
- The partner visa.
- The fiancé visa.
- The dependant visa.
Not all of these visas enable you to relocate to the UK on a permanent basis. For example, the start-up visa and the graduate visa and the temporary visa do not lead to settlement in the UK. Other visas can lead to an accelerated indefinite leave to remain application after three years residence in the UK instead of the usual minimum five-year residence requirement for an indefinite leave to remain application. Settlement options need to be considered together with the flexibility of the visa route. For example, with the skilled worker visa or the intra company transfer visa you will need a job offer from an employer with a UK Home Office issued sponsor licence .
Specialist US expat UK immigration solicitors can help you make the right visa choices and ensure your relocation from the me to the UK is as smooth as possible.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors