Tier 2 Work Visas For US Citizens
Due to a shared language and a history of cooperation, the US and the UK have a lot in common. It is therefore unsurprising that many citizens from the two countries opt to live in the other for some period of time. If you are on the US side of the equation, you may be wondering about coming to the UK. In this article, we are going to look at the options for US citizens looking to move to the UK to live and work.
Are US Citizens Able to Work in the UK?
Yes. Unfortunately, there is no agreement on visa free work options for US-UK citizens, and this means that in order to work in the UK (if you're a US citizen), you will require a permit that allows you to work. There are numerous options that will allow you to work in the UK, but the most well used is the Tier 2 General Visa. This visa requires you to gain an offer of employment from a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder. Once you have accepted this offer, they will then give you a Certificate of Sponsorship that you will use to support your application.
The Tier 2 General Visa offers holders the opportunity to live and work in the UK for up to a maximum of 5 years and 14 days. You are also able to extend your visa for up to a further 5 years as long as your total stay in the UK does not exceed 6 years. Once you have been working in the UK for 5 years, you will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain - which will allow you to stay in the UK indefinitely, free of restrictions.
Is the Tier 2 General Visa the Best Option for US Citizens Looking to Work in the UK?
The most appropriate visa for you will likely depend on your circumstances, but the Tier 2 General Visa is a good option that covers various sectors and various roles. As long as you can attain the minimum salary required for the role (£30,000 per year - apart from some jobs that are on the Shortage Occupation List) and the role has passed the resident labour market test (a test that the employer must meet in order to advertise the role to Tier 2 applicants), you will be able to apply for a visa.
Once you are in the UK, you will be able to work for your employer for the period specified on your visa. As you come towards the end of this period, you may wish to extend your stay - in this case you will either need to gain a Certificate of Sponsorship from your current employer, or if you are looking to switch jobs, a new Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder. This should then take you to your 5 year stay in the UK - the point at which you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
What About Family? Can They Join Me in the UK?
Yes, you can bring some family members with you to the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa. These must be direct family members, as listed below:
- Spouse or partner
- Child under the age of 18 years
- Your child over the age of 18 provided they already live in the UK and are a dependent
In order to be considered, your dependents will either need to apply at the same time as you or they can also join you further into your stay. As well as having to be a direct relation, your dependent/s will also need to have at least £630 in savings (that must have been in their possession for at least 90 days) in order to support their stay - this is in addition to the £945 that you will need to support yourself. If your dependent cannot meet the savings requirement, you may be able to get your sponsor (if they are A-rated) to also sponsor your dependent.
Once in the UK, your dependents will receive the same leave that you have on your visa, and will be eligible to settle once they have been in the UK for 5 years. In the meantime, if you manage to gain Indefinite Leave to Remain before your spouse reaches 5 years in the UK, they will be able to extend their visa in order to build up their own 5 years in the UK. Once at the end of their 5 years in the UK, your dependent will then also be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Can US Citizens Settle in the UK?
Yes. While the visa routes vary the length of time (and indeed whether you can actually settle), almost all UK visas offer the option to settle in the UK after 5 years. This process is known as gaining Indefinite Leave to Remain and allows holders to stay in the UK free of visa conditions indefinitely.
Another option for US citizens is gaining British citizenship. As both the US and the UK allow their citizens to hold other nationalities, you can use Indefinite Leave to Remain as a route to gaining British citizenship. You will need to remain in the UK for 12 months after gaining Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will also need to pass the Life in the UK test. Should you meet the criteria, you can apply to become a British citizen without needing to renounce your US citizenship.
Where Can I Get More Help?
Our team of immigration solicitors can help you to move to the UK to live and work no matter where you come from - we do, however, have extensive experience in helping US citizens move to the UK.
Do not hesitate to get in contact - a member of our team will be more than happy to assist you.
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- When Can a Tier 2 / Skilled Worker Dependent Apply for ILR?