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Moving from Ireland to the UK

Moving from Ireland to the UK

Last updated: 11 April 2024

As an Irish citizen, you do not require a visa to live, work or study in the UK, even after Brexit. This is because the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the UK and the Republic of Ireland remains in place. The CTA is an open borders area spanning the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. While Irish citizens do not require a visa for the UK, non-Irish citizens coming from Ireland may need to apply for a visa. In this article, we will explain the rights of Irish citizens in the UK and some of the most popular UK visa options for non-Irish nationals coming to the UK from Ireland.

Rights of Irish Citizens in the UK

Under the UK’s Immigration and Social Security (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020, Irish citizens moving from Ireland to the UK can live here (and vice versa) and enjoy associated rights and privileges. As an Irish citizen moving to the UK from Ireland, you can:

  • Have the right to live, work, study, and start a business
  • Receive social benefits
  • Access NHS healthcare at no cost
  • Access to social housing support
  • Vote in certain elections, and
  • Travel freely between Ireland and the UK

As an Irish citizen living in the UK, you are considered to be ‘settled’ – i.e. the same as holding Indefinite Leave To Remain or ‘settled status’.

UK visas for non-Irish citizens to move to the UK

As a non-Irish citizen moving to the UK from Ireland, you have a wide range of work visas, business visas, family visas, and visitor visas available to you.

UK work visas

The UK offers several work visa options to overseas nationals, including non-Irish nationals coming from Ireland. We won’t cover all of the work visa options available in this article, but a couple to consider are the Skilled worker visa and the Scale Up visa. Both are very similar, but there are some important distinctions.

The Skilled Worker visa is the most commonly used and popular visa for overseas nationals coming to work in the UK. Applicants must have a job offer from an approved employer (one with a sponsor licence) in an eligible skilled occupation. The job must also offer a salary of at least £38,700 or the ‘going rate’ for the role. Some applicants may qualify for a lower minimum salary. Those applying for a Skilled Worker visa must meet the English language requirements. Skilled Worker visas are granted for up to 5 years, at which point you can apply for settlement (ILR).

The Scale-up Worker visa has many of the same eligibility requirements, but there are some differences. Firstly, you must have an eligible job with a scale-up business (a business that is experiencing rapid growth in the UK). The annual salary requirements are also higher at £33,100, however, the hourly rate of £10.10 and the ‘going rate’ requirements still apply. As a Scale-up Worker visa holder, you can stay for up to 2 years and then extend this for an additional 3 years as many times as you wish. After 5 years in the UK, you can also apply for settlement (ILR).

UK business visas

When it comes to UK business visas, the main one to consider is the Innovator Founder visa. As a non-Irish citizen coming to the UK from Ireland, you will be able to set up and run a new business in the UK if you meet the eligibility criteria. You must have endorsement from an approved endorsement body that your business idea is new, innovative and viable (i.e. it has a real potential for growth). You must also be at least 18 years, meet the English language requirement, and have enough savings to support yourself. Once in the UK, you can stay in the UK for an initial period of 3 years and then either extend your visa or apply for permanent settlement. As such, the Innovator visa offers one of the fastest routes to ILR of all UK visas.

UK Family visas

Under the category of family visas, the two most popular are the spouse visa and the dependant visa.

The spouse visa enables overseas partners of people who are settled in the UK or British citizens to join their loved ones in the UK. Spouse visa holders can live, work, study, and travel freely for up to 33 months initially. This can be further extended for another 30 months. After 5 continuous years in the UK on a spouse visa, it is then possible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR). To apply for a spouse visa, you must be married, in a civil partnership, or have lived with your UK-based partner for 2 or more years. You and your partner must have a combined annual income of at least £29,000 – this can be met through employment, self-employment, non-employment income, pensions, and savings. In addition, you must meet the English language requirements.

The UK dependant visa enables overseas spouses and children of visa holders in the UK to join their loved ones. You may consider this option if, for example, your partner travels to the UK to work on a Skilled Worker visa and you and your children wish to join them in the UK. To qualify for a dependant visa as a partner, you must be married, a civil partner, or have been living with your UK-based partner for at least 2 years. Your partner must also be in the UK and hold a valid visa that enables dependants to join them. For a child to gain a child dependant visa, they must be dependant on the main visa holder – i.e. live with and be financially reliant on them. The only exception is if the child lives away for university or attends boarding school. Dependant visas are issued for the same duration as the main visa holder and also allow holders to gain indefinite leave to remain.

How can Reiss Edwards help?

Reiss Edwards is a leading immigration law firm based in Central London. Our immigration lawyers specialise in helping individuals and companies with all of their immigration needs, including advising on their visa and other immigration options, overcoming problems with visa eligibility, handling visa applications, settlement applications, British citizenship, immigration application refusals, EU Settlement Scheme applications, and much more.

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