Despite the recent economic downturn and onslaught of the era of austerity, net migration to the UK continues to exceed the number of UK residents leaving to live abroad, in any given year. People want to move here for various reasons, whether to pursue work opportunities, for personal reasons or simply to have the experience of living abroad and travelling.
Already have a British passport?
Not all migrants will need to apply for a visa to enter and live in the UK. Some immigrants enter from former colonies, already holding a British and sometimes at least one other passport. Nationals of EU countries are allowed to live and work in the UK, and in some circumstances have access to public funds (i.e. can claim certain kinds of benefits) immediately on arrival.
Need a visa?
Other new arrivals will need to apply for a visa; their home country, family and occupation all determining what is available to them. Nationals of some Commonwealth countries are permitted to apply for ancestral visas – by virtue of a grandparent having been a British national – or short term working holiday visas of up to two years. The so-called “highly skilled” working visa is available for foreign nationals that have skills the UK needs and can not source locally. Student visas As for student visas, obtaining such visas often depends on a specific work or study placement. Marrying a British citizen can also confer a right of residency. In only some of these cases ,will the new arrival be eligible to go on to claim a British passport. In all cases where a visa must be obtained, a fee is payable on application. As mistakes can be costly, in all but the simplest cases it may be prudent to instruct specialist immigration solicitors, or immigration agents, to prepare and submit it.
Depending on circumstances and existing UK support structures, it may be helpful to instruct specialist immigration agents on arrival. Even simple things like opening a bank account, signing a rental agreement or applying for a mobile phone contract - both important in finding work and getting paid - are difficult for new arrivals with no credit history or ‘acceptable’ proof of address.
Culture and customs
It is also recommended to spend some time learning about British culture and customs. If one becomes eligible for a British passport in time, then one has to pass a citizenship test to show one understands the British lifestyle. But why wait? Even if you come from an English speaking country, there may be cultural differences and making a conscious decision to understand your adopted country’s mores can make for a much smoother settling-in process.