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How do I move to the UK?

The UK is one of the most desirable immigration destinations for many people. Geographical location, high standards of living, low unemployment, excellent education for children, affordable healthcare costs are not all the advantages that moving to the UK entails. But how do you immigrate to the land of Shakespeare, Big Ben and fog?

The first thing you need to do is to understand what type of visa will allow you to stay in the UK for a long period of time and what the conditions for obtaining an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) visa are. In this guide we will introduce you to the main types of immigration visas and the conditions for obtaining a residence permit.

Immigration on a student visa

One way to move to the UK for permanent residence is to study there. British universities are ranked at the top of the world’s best institutions, so an English degree can be your passport to work and live not only in the UK, but anywhere in the world. You can apply for a Student visa if you are aged 16 or over and:

  • You are formally admitted to a state-licensed institution in Britain;

  • You have enough money to live in Britain and pay your tuition fees;

  • You can write, read and speak English (you need to pass a language proficiency test to do this);

  • You can provide written parental consent if you are 16-17 years old.

You can start applying for a student visa 6 months before the start of your studies. You will normally receive a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. This type of visa allows you to live in the UK for the duration of your studies and extends the period if you wish to continue studying, for example when moving from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s degree.

You will also have the opportunity to apply for a Graduate visa if you successfully complete your studies and graduate. This type of visa allows you to stay in Britain for up to 2 years. It cannot be extended, but if you find a job during this time you can apply for a Skilled Worker visa, which allows you to apply for a permanent residence permit after 5 years of working in Britain.

The student visa itself does not lead to permanent residence, but it is possible to obtain residency based on legal and continuous residence in the country for 10 years. For example, if a child initially receives a child visa and starts school, then enters university and switches to a student visa, then receives a graduate visa, and then a work visa. In this way, 10 years of legal and continuous stay in the country (long residence) with several types of visas are accumulated, and a person becomes eligible to apply for permanent residence.

If you are looking to take up a new specialism or further your education and still immigrate to the UK, or you have a child who is suitable — consider this visa route. Read more about the student visa in our article.

Immigration on a work visa

There are several types of work visas. Each has its own criteria, so it is important to study the requirements for the different types.

Skilled Worker visa (Skilled Worker visa)

The most common way to move to England with the possibility of ILR is through formal employment with a company that has an immigration sponsorship licence. In this case, you will be granted a Skilled Worker visa, which gives you the right to live and work in Britain for 5 years. You can then apply for ILR.

Skilled Worker visa requirements:

  • Formal employment with a company piloted by the UK Home Office;

  • Receiving a certificate of sponsorship from the company with information about your position and role in the company;

  • The position must meet the criteria for a visa;

  • Your salary must meet minimum wage standards, which vary by type of employment;

  • Your English level must be at least B1.

Most importantly, you must be absolutely sure that you have secured a job before applying for a visa. Read a detailed article about this type of visa on our website.

One type of work visa is the Health and Care worker visa.

If you are a doctor, nurse or a specialist in the helping professions, you can apply for a healthcare worker visa which will give you the opportunity to work in the UK healthcare sector. These visas have certain specific requirements. To fulfil them, it is necessary to:

  • Be a qualified doctor, nurse or adult social work professional;

  • Have a position in the medical or social work field;

  • Work for an organisation that has a sponsorship license from the UK Home Office;

  • Receive a certificate of sponsorship from the company with information about your position and role in the company;

  • Your salary must meet minimum wage criteria, which vary depending on the type of employment;

  • Some occupations require the employer to be registered with one of the special health regulatory organisations;

  • Your English level must be at least B1.

As in the previous case, you must obtain a place of employment before you start the visa process. In addition, for some professions it is prohibited to bring dependents with you. Even more information about this type of visa on our website.

Global Talent visa (Global Talent visa)

This type of visa is suitable for professionals who have excelled in the sciences, humanities, engineering or arts and have been recognised by relevant organisations or renowned professionals. It is granted to candidates over 18 years of age who have achieved outstanding results in areas such as:

  • Culture and the Arts;

  • Scientific Research;

  • IT;

  • Science or Engineering;

  • Medicine;

  • Fashion and Design;

  • Film, television;

  • Architecture.

For a talent visa, the following are required:

  • Valid passport;

  • A CV detailing your achievements;

  • Three letters of recommendation from respected organisations or professionals in your field (these should reflect your achievements and what you can contribute to your field while in Britain);

  • Up to 10 documents of your successes and achievements;

  • Proof of winning an intangible prize in a well-known competition (e.g. winning a category in a competition important in your field);

  • TB test, depending on the country you are in.

This visa option is a great way to move to England for permanent residence because the country is very keen to attract as many talented people as possible from all over the world to live and work there. After 3 or 5 years you can apply for UK permanent residence. If you have achieved outstanding success in a particular field and can prove that your merits are recognised, the UK needs you. Read more about this type of visa and the conditions for obtaining it in our article.

Immigration on a business visa

A business visa includes several types of visas. Let’s take a look at the main ones.

Investor visa (Investor visa)

The UK Government abolished this type of visa on 17 February 2022. But if you are a holder of a valid visa of this type, you can apply for a residence permit or invite your immediate family members to come to England as dependants.

Innovator Founder visa (Innovator Founder visa)

In April 2023, this visa type combined the Innovator Visa and the Startup Visa. If you are an experienced or aspiring entrepreneur and are wondering how to move to the UK for permanent residence, consider this visa route.

The Founder’s Visa is intended for innovative businesses. If you are a digital, IT or fintech entrepreneur, you have a good chance of getting this visa. The main requirements for the business idea: it must be new, unique and have potential for growth. You must provide a detailed plan for the development of your company with specific figures.

The biggest challenge is to get approval from an organisation that is on the list of endorsing bodies. These are agencies licensed by the UK Home Office to consider whether an applicant for an innovator visa meets the necessary criteria. You will also need to have funds to develop your business. For even more information on the innovator visa, check out this article.

UK Expansion Worker visa from the Global Business Mobility visa group (Global Business Mobility visa)

There are 5 types of visa in the Global Business Mobility visa category, the most popular of which is the UK Expansion Worker visa. This type of visa used to be called a Representative of an Overseas Business visa. The requirements are as follows:

  • A company existing abroad is entitled to open a representative office in the UK in the form of a branch or subsidiary and send up to 5 employees to work there;

  • The company must have been in existence and doing business overseas in the UK for at least 3 years;

  • The employee must have been employed with the company for at least 1 year or be paid a salary of more than £73,900 per annum.

This visa is issued for 1 year, then it can be extended for another 1 year, and then the immigrant has a choice – if the UK branch of the company has achieved certain successes, it is possible to get a licence under the Skilled Worker visa category and transfer the employees to Skilled Worker visas. Even more information about this type of visa in our article.

Immigration on a family visa

This visa implies that you have a relative or partner to whom you are moving. There are several types of family visas. We will look at the most common visa routes.

Spouse visa (Spouse visa) or Civil Partner visa (Civil Partner visa)

You must be legally married to a British national to be eligible for this visa. Your marriage certificate must be recognised under British law. If you are not married but have been living with your partner as a family for 2 years at the time of application, you can apply for this visa as an unmarried partner. A minimum knowledge of English and a certain level of financial stability is also required. Your requirements will be as follows:

  • Your partner is British or Irish by nationality, has an ILR, Turkish business or Turkish worker visa, refugee status or humanitarian protection;

  • You’re both over the age of 18;

  • You and your partner have had a legally registered partnership, marriage or cohabitation for at least 2 years;

  • Your partner is not your blood relative;

  • You have the experience of meeting in person;

  • Your relationship is real;

  • You and your partner intend to live in the UK;

  • All of your previous relationships are officially over;

  • You are able to support yourself financially and can prove this by providing evidence of the salary your partner/spouse receives in Britain, cash savings of £16,000 or more, pensions or income from rents and dividends;

  • You have suitable accommodation;

  • You have successfully passed the English language proficiency test at A1 level.

One important requirement is proof of a certain level of household income in the territory. The minimum income of your sponsor (partner) from 11 April 2024 must be £29,000 per annum. This visa is issued for 2 years and 9 months. It will need to be renewed before it expires and after 5 years in Britain on a spouse visa you can apply for ILR.

Fiancé(e) visa (Fiancé(e) visa)

Visa typeCost outside the UK (£)Cost within the UK (£)Deadline for review

The following are some of the applications from outside and inside the country

Student visa490 (for the applicant and each dependent)490 (for the applicant and each dependent)3 weeks out and in-country
Visa qualified

authorised employee

for up to 3 years 719 (for the applicant and each dependent);

for a period of 3 years or more 1,420 (for the applicant and each dependent)

for up to 3 years 827 (for the applicant and each dependent);

for a period of 3 years or more 1,500 (for the applicant and each dependent)

3 weeks out of the country;

8 weeks domestically

Innovator’s Visa-


1.191 (for the applicant and each dependent)1.486 (for the applicant and each dependent)3 weeks out of the country;

8 weeks domestically

Talent Visa716 (for the applicant and each dependent).

When a letter of confirmation is required, the amount is divided into 2 instalments — first you pay the 524 endorsement fee and then 192 for the visa. Dependents and those who do not require a letter pay the whole amount at once.

716 (for the applicant and each dependent)3 weeks out of the country;

8 weeks domestically

Global Business Mobility Visa298 (for the applicant and each dependent);

285 for partner/spouse;

315 for the first child;

200 for the second and each subsequent child.

298 (for the applicant and each dependent)3-6 weeks out of the country;

8 weeks domestically

Visa of partner, fiancé/bride or spouse1.846 (for the applicant and each dependent)1.048 (for the applicant and each dependent)24 weeks out of the country;

8 weeks domestically

If you have not yet married and have been together for less than 2 years, you can apply for a fiancée visa. This allows you to move to the UK and get married within six months of entry and apply for a spouse visa while you are already in the UK.

This visa is no different to a spouse visa in terms of the set of documents, with one exception – instead of a marriage certificate you will be required to provide evidence of your intention to marry in the UK. The visa is issued for a period of 6 months. Once the marriage has been registered you can apply for a spouse visa within the country. You can read more about family visas here.

Visa costs, application processing times and health insurance fee

All visa applications are submitted online by filling in a special form for each type of visa. Once all the necessary information has been entered on the form, the applicant must make usually 2 payments. The first is the Immigration Health Service (IHS) fee, which is paid to enable the applicant to utilise the free health care system within the UK after relocation. For the student visa, and for all applicants under 18 on other visa types, it is £776. For all other types of immigration visas for people over 18, it is £1,035 for each person who will be immigrating.

The second payment is the visa application fee. If your application is refused, the IHS will be refunded, but the visa fee will not. Visa types vary in cost and processing time. The table summarises the cost of the different types of visas and the processing times.

In addition to the medical fee and application fee, it is usually necessary to prove that the applicant has maintenance funds to live in the UK until they receive their first salary. A common requirement is that the applicant has £1,270 in a bank account.

If your application is prepared correctly and you have collected and attached all the necessary documents, the chance of your application being refused is minimal. The better you prepare your application, the better your chances of obtaining an immigrant visa to Britain. For this purpose, we advise you to consult with immigration solicitors so that you know the ins and outs of the application and attach the documents in the correct format. If you have any questions about how to move to the UK, contact us. We can tell you which visa will suit your situation and together we can start preparing for your new stage in life.

Can I immigrate to the UK from another EU country?

Even if you are a citizen of an EU country, you will need to obtain one of the immigration visas to move to the UK for permanent residence. Before Brexit, EU citizens could move to Britain without visas, but now visa-free visits are only for tourism and visiting family and friends.

What should those planning to move to the UK for permanent residence?

We recommend planning your immigration history: find out what type of visa is right for you and what documents you need. Then decide on your tax obligations in the UK. Also plan how you will move, find accommodation and schools if necessary.

How long does it take to immigrate?

Depending on your personal circumstances and visa type, you must live in the UK for about 5 years to obtain a permanent residence permit and then a further 1 year to obtain UK citizenship. We strongly recommend planning your application with a professional immigration lawyer so that you don’t make any mistakes at any stage. We also remind you that preparing documents, completing the application and processing your first visa may take some time.

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