Couple + Cats Planning a Move to London


I'm going to get this out of the way right away: neither of us have graduated college. We realize having degrees would make it much easier to broadcast ourselves to UK-based companies, but we have decided to leave the United States, and we are not waiting long enough to obtain our degrees - at least not here. If possible, we'd both like to finish our degrees (or even start over) in the UK.

That being said, my fiancée and I have (80%) decided to move to London. We know we want to leave the US, and right now, London seems like a fantastic choice. I have a few questions.

1. If her company (which has a London branch) offers her a position in London, how would she go about being sponsored to obtain a work visa?

2. Because of reasons, I'm not currently employed. How would a job seeker even start the process of obtaining a work visa? I've visited the government site and read all about the visas, but it's still a bit confusing. Would I NEED to be sponsored by a company for a job in the shortage list, or can I be sponsored by any company for any job, so long as that company agrees to it and provides all the necessary information?

3. I've looked into the boroughs and neighbourhoods in London, and it seems like Hackney, Crystal Palace, and a few others seem like the choices we have right now. Cheap is fine. I am aware of the crime statistics. But are there any neighbourhoods you guys recommend that maybe aren't AS horrible?

4. We have cats. I'm aware that it'd be a substantial cost to bring them, and they'd need to be quarantined, but what about housing? Are there many flats in London that refuse pets?

5. Are there any cities/towns/villages outside of London that would be a better fit?

6. Without a degree, I am obviously much shorter on options. Would we be able to contact employment agencies (assuming her current company cannot sponsor her)? Would an employment agency sponsor us, or help us find a company, while still overseas, that WILL sponsor us?

Thank you everyone! Sorry about the sort of long text. Not even sure what exact questions to ask at this point. It's all very overwhelming. Obviously we are planning on visiting the city before we egen 100% decide on the move, but knowing us, we'll still end up deciding on London anyway.

Hi and welcome to the Forum.

It is surprisingly very hard for non-EU citizens to emigrate to the UK; primarily because the UK no longer offers anybody a Tier 1 General visa; it no longer exists.  So, assuming you qualify for one of the other visas, the first thing to remember is that all work-related visas are by definition temporary, at the end of them, there is no guarantee you will be granted an extension or permanent residence and you will have to go back to where you came from.  There are also regional quotas in place for all visas, once that quota is filled, then there is no more immigration from that region until the next year.  As for leaving College part-way through, well that's just plain and simply dumb; no employer is going to view that as a positive trait when considering you for a job.  Anyway, to try and answer your questions in the same order you asked them:

1.  Your fiancee would need a Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer) visa; this link will take you to the UK Gov website that deals with this.  Basically, assuming her company is not already a licensed sponsor, they will need to do this, then apply for a visa for her.    There are other eligibility requirements, but they are described in the link. The one that normally kills off people in your position is the requirement to earn a salary in excess of £41k p/annum.

2.  It would not be easy for you either.  The UK no longer offers work-visas; instead they have adopted a shortage occupation route for non-EU citizens; basically, they maintain a list of occupations for which there is a deemed shortage; if you qualify to get past the list, you then have to go through the sponsorship process described above.  The professions currently on the list can be found by following this link.

3.  The Numbeo website, although better known for its cost of living data, also has a section that deals with crime; this link will take you to it.  Personally, I was brought up in London and struggle to understand what people see in the place; it's mouthwateringly expensive and the environment is positively dangerous.  Anywhere else in the UK would probably be cheaper and less harmful to your health.

4.  Yes, lots of landlords do not permit pets; there is no law that forces them to do so, so all you can do is ask at the time of viewing.  Assuming you do find somewhere, you may have to consider leaving them behind in the US to follow you later

5.  Yes, lots, basically, the further north you head, the cheaper it gets.

6.  No, the moment the agency realises that you are in the US and don't feature in the shortage occupation list, they would rapidly lose interest in you.

Hope this helps.

Expat Team

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