The UK is a really great place to work and live and has always been the prime destination for European ex-pats. However, due to Brexit taking effect at the beginning of 2021, moving across the Channel is not the most straightforward process anymore. Information on how to relocate to the UK is hard to find, and the resources on gov.uk are plentiful but confusing if you’re looking for high-level guidance.
Working with businesses across the world, here at Movemeon we thought we needed to provide you with actual guidance on how to understand the situation better. We asked the Home Office our most Frequently Asked Questions and added to their answers some tips that we reckon will be useful to all European professionals looking to work in the UK after Brexit.
Are you an employer wondering about hiring EU citizens? Read our brief guide to understand visa sponsorship better.
Changes brought on by Brexit
But first, let’s talk about what changed since Brexit happened. It’s important to note that an agreement over the rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK was a precondition of progress in the negotiations over the UK leaving the EU. What this means is that it’s a lot easier to move to the UK as a EU citizen than another country in the world. Regulations have become more relaxed to make it easier for employers to sponsor foreign colleagues.
When does the visa process start?
Visa considerations should only be undertaken once a candidate has been selected for the role. So you don’t need to apply for a Tier-2 visa until you’ve accepted the job offer. Employers can register as Licensed Sponsors beforehand (that’s why some job descriptions state that they offer visa sponsorship), or after they’ve made an offer to an applicant but this will considerably lengthen the process.
Can I relocate with my family?
It’s dependent on the type of visa you’re on but most professionals are on the Tier-2 visa, which means you can bring your spouse and/or children with you. Procedures for their visa can be dealt with at the same time as yours, so you don’t need to necessarily worry about a delay.
Can I work remotely from outside the UK for a UK employer?
Yes, you can! UK visas are not required for those working outside the UK for UK-based employers. This is great news, especially considering the growing number of remote and/or flexible roles we see on Movemeon.
I’m a freelancer – how does it work?
There are different routes that you can use, depending on the circumstances of your employment in the UK. For example, if you’re interested in taking part in our pro bono initiative, you can apply for a Charity Work visa. In any case, you will need your employer to sponsor you to apply for a temporary work visa.
What if I don’t have a job offer lined up?
You can still apply for visa routes to relocate to the UK! Do you know about the Global Talent visa? As a leader in Digital Technology (a Fintech professional for example), you can apply for this visa which will allow you to be self-employed or an employee in the UK and enjoy relative freedom of what you can do. You don’t need a job offer lined up, but you need to be able to prove your expertise in the field.
You can also apply for the Innovator visa or the Start-up visa if you are an entrepreneur with an innovative business idea. However, you will need some form of endorsement or sponsoring in both cases but not as an employee.
How much does it all cost?
Applications costs vary widely depending on the type of visa you’re applying for. For example, the Charity Worker visa costs under £250 whereas the Innovator visa costs over £1,000 (per person, if you’re coming with your spouse and/or children).
If you’re on a Tier-2 visa (the most frequent), fees can vary between £600 and £1,400 depending on your circumstances (industry, function, etc.). You also need to prove you have at least £1,270 to support yourself once you are in the UK. But please bear in mind that your employer is very likely to be able to help with the costs we’ve mentioned.
Other helpful tips
If you’re coming to work in the UK temporarily (for up to 2-3 years) you won’t need to pay social security in the UK, but in your home country where you’ll need to request a certificate in some instances. That’s useful to know if you’re relocating to the UK with your current EU-based company.
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