Born in the USA but sent off to a foreign land

UK immigration laws are complex and forever changing and evolving. Therefore the information in this article is only up-to-date as of today and should not be relied upon on its own. It is also extremely generalised and not designed to fit any one particular situation. I hope, however, that it will provide you with some useful information on the things to think about should you, or your family members, be thinking about relocating to the UK or extending your stay.

A.     Short Visits

Broadly speaking, and subject to exceptions, you won’t need a visa if you’re coming to the UK for six months or less (a “short visit”).

You may want to apply for a visa, however, if you have a criminal record or you’ve previously been refused entry into the UK as this could avoid problems at your port of entry.

You must get a visa to work in the UK, even if you plan to do so for six months or less. Subject to some strict rules and requirements, you may be able to come to the UK without a visa if you:

·        are invited as an expert in your profession;

·        come for other business or academic activities

However, if during your visit you wish to take paid employment or produce goods or services in the UK, you will need to obtain a visa that permits you to do so. The most commonly seen working visas are:

·        skilled worker (Tier 2)

·        temporary worker (Tier 5)

·        “high value” worker (Tier 1)

B.     Work

Generally, as a US citizen, you must obtain a visa before you can come to the UK to work or do business.  You must apply in one of the following categories:

·        Tier 1 of the points-based system – for investors, entrepreneurs, international graduates with a viable business plan and exceptionally talented people;

·        Tier 2 of the points-based system – for skilled workers who have been offered a permanent job by an employer licensed to sponsor overseas workers

·        Tier 5 of the points-based system – for temporary workers with a job offer

It is also possible to apply to come to the UK as a representative of an overseas business (or as a domestic worker in a private household). See below for some more detail on this.

Tier 2and Tier 5 employment ties you to a particular employer (your sponsor) whilst Tier 1 leave is granted to you without the need for a sponsor.

If you are working in the UK under Tier 2 and your employment ends earlier than anticipated, your UK sponsor is required to notify the Home Office that your employment has terminated. This notification triggers the Home Office Curtailments Team to process the curtailment of your Tier 2 visa, thereby reducing the amount of time you can remain in the UK.  The Curtailment Team will contact you to advise you of the date your visa will expire. They will also inform you if there is anything immediate you need to do.

It is not possible to accurately guess the exact date that a visa will be curtailed; this will vary depending on the reason for the early termination of your employment and also the amount of time remaining on your current Tier 2 visa. According to current Home Office guidance, however, it is likely to be “60 days starting from the date the decision to curtail leave is made; or with immediate effect, if the sponsor’s licence was withdrawn and the Home Office considers that you were complicit in the actions that resulted in the licence being withdrawn”.

You would have to make a successful application to vary your leave and/or your sponsor within the 60 days following curtailment. Not doing so may result in you being subject to appropriate enforcement and removal action which would in turn undoubtedly affect any future application you made for UK entry clearance or leave to remain.

C.     Family Ties

If you are a US citizen and wish to come to the UK to live with your family for more than six months, (or to remain here with them) you must obtain a visa.

If your family member (or extended family member) is a UK citizen or is settled in the UK, you are likely to need to apply for a family of a settled person visa (often known as a spouse or spousal visa). Your family member or partner can:

·        be a British citizen;

·        have settled in the UK; or

·        be your partner who has asylum or humanitarian protection in the UK

You may also be able to apply to remain with your child if they’ve lived in the UK for at least 7 years.

You must meet the eligibility requirements for the partner routes, one of which is the financial requirement.  If you’re 18 or over you must meet the financial requirement of:

·        £18,600 per year if you’re applying only for yourself

·        £22,400 per year for you and one child

·        £2,400 per year for each additional child

The financial requirement can be met in a number of ways.

It’s also worth knowing that if you are not married to your sponsor, you will be expected to have lived together in a relationship for 2 years and you will need to be able to show this through documentary evidence.

You can use your family of a settled person visa to work or study in the UK. This visa will give you greater freedom to work than a Tier 2 visa as you will not require sponsorship by an employer.

If your family member is from the EEA or Switzerland, you may have to apply in another way. This is likely to be an application for an EEA family permit to come to the UK as the family member or extended family member of an EEA national, or a residence card if you’re already here. Note, of course, that it is not yet clear how these rules will change following Brexit so, if you are relying on your relationship with an EEA national to be here, it’s worth getting your paperwork in order before Article 50 is triggered in, reportedly, March 2017.

D.     Visiting to Marry

If you wish to come to the UK simply to be married here, for whatever reason, you must apply for a Marriage Visitor visa. This visa, however, is only intended for those who do not plan to stay or settle in the UK after their marriage or civil partnership. You would have to marry within six months of your arrival and cannot:

·        get public funds

·        bring in family members (“dependants”) – they must apply separately

·        live in the UK for extended periods through frequent visits

·        extend your visa or switch to another visa

·        work – except for permitted activities related to your work or business overseas, e.g. attending meetings

·        study for more than 30 days – studying can’t be the main reason for your visit

E.      Study

If you are a US citizen and want to study in the UK for more than 6 months, and/or you want to work while you are here, you must obtain a visa before you travel to the UK.  This application will be made under Tier 4 of the points-based system.

You don’t need a visa if you are here to receive specific, one-off training (but not on-the job training) provided by your employer or its UK branch, in techniques and work practices used in the UK.

To get a Tier 4 visa you must have been have been offered an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor, have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course (the amount will vary depending on your circumstances) and meet various other eligibility criteria.

The length of your Tier 4 visa will depend on the length of your course, as stated in your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (“CAS”). During your additional leave granted at the end of your course, assuming that you complete your course on time, the Home Office allows you to work full-time within certain limits.  However, if you complete your course earlier than the course end date stated in your CAS, you should not assume you can remain in the UK until the date of expiry of your visa.  The Home Office requires your sponsor to inform it of every student who completes their course earlier than expected.  The Home Office normally limits your permission to the normal wrap-up period of leave.  This means that if you have completed your course more than 12 months after the course start date entered on your original CAS, you will receive a curtailment period of 4 months.  If you have completed your course in less than 12 months, you will receive a curtailment period of two months. You should note that the Home Office advises that if you leave the UK after early completion of studies, or are already outside the UK, your leave to enter or remain will lapse and you may require an alternative visa to enter the UK.

F.      Representative of an Overseas Business

As a US national you can apply to come to the UK as a representative of an overseas business if you’re either:

·        the sole representative of an overseas company planning to set up a UK branch or a wholly owned subsidiary for an overseas parent company; or

·        an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation posted on a long-term assignment to the UK

You must also meet various other eligibility requirements.

With this visa you can:

·        work for your employer, full time

·        bring your family (“dependants”) with you to the UK

·        extend your visa multiple times

·        apply to settle in the UK after you’ve been here for 5 years

·        stay in the UK if your company’s circumstances change and you’ve been here for more than 2 years (e.g. if they appoint a superior in the UK)

You can’t:

·        work for yourself or any other business

·        stay in the UK if the sole representative arrangement is ended by your employer

·        switch to this visa from any other visa category

·        get public funds

G.    Settlement

As long as you have spent five consecutive years on a Tier 2 visa in the UK, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR/Settlement). Similarly, if you have been in the UK for five consecutive years as family of a settled person, you can apply to settle. Remember, however, that if you are on a spousal visa, and you spend more than 180 days outside of the UK, your five-year residency period will be reset.

Tier 4 visas are not eligible for settlement purposes.  You will need to convert your Tier 4 visa to a different visa category to qualify for ILR.

Once you have been in the UK for five years as an overseas representative of a business, and as long as you have an ongoing job with the same company, you can apply to settle.

If you would like to explore any of the above options in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact me: [email protected]

This article is offered for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

This blog was originally posted here.

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