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Can I Move to London? Everything You Need to Know

Moving to London was one of the best things that I ever did, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s able, but the thing is, there are increasing restrictions on who can move to London. So, let me help put your mind at ease by answering the question ‘Can I move to London?’.

Can I Move to London?

Between Brexit, changes in visa regulations, and certain countries having preferences over others, it can be a confusing minefield.

But the answer is yes, you can move to London, but how easy it is to move to London will vary depending on various factors. I’ll go over those factors below.

Factors to Consider if You Can Move to London

1. Your Country of Origin

It might not sound fair, but where you’re coming from is going to have a huge impact on whether or not you can move to London, or how easy it’s going to be to move to London.

A few years ago, there was freedom of movement between the UK and many countries in Europe through the European Union, but as the UK has now left the EU, this freedom to move – and work – has now gone.

This means that EU citizens now need to go through the standard visa process to move to London.

If you’re coming from a nation that’s in the Commonwealth there are some slightly different visas that you can move on that are often cheaper and easier to get. That being said there are still a lot of hoops to jump through to get one of these. 

Looking to move to London from the US? Unless you’ve got a job with sponsorship for a work visa, are a student, or have some kind of family link to the UK, you’re going to struggle. 

There are some allowances for refugees or migrants who are fleeing persecution, but the processes for these seem to be always changing and depend on your individual circumstances.

If this seems to match your circumstance please check the up-to-date guidance given out by the UK Home Office. 

2. The Visa Requirements

I’ve briefly talked about a few different visas that are going to allow you to move to London based on your situation. Most of them will require a minimum amount in your bank account or recurring wages that have to surpass a certain amount each month.

a passport with visa stamps
Photo from Unsplash

This basically proves that you can afford to support yourself in the famously expensive city of London.

The most concrete visa is going to be if one of your grandparents, parents, or spouse is from the UK. This way you can claim a link and move to London whether you have a job or not.

There’s an 18-30 mobility visa which works for young people from the Commonwealth and that lasts up to two years. After this point, you can apply for a work visa to continue staying in London.

Work visas are probably going to be the most common way to get a visa to move to London if you’re applying from outside the Commonwealth.

Your employer is going to have to commit to sponsoring you and if you leave that role you need to make sure your new employer is happy to continue the sponsorship.

Student visas are another way of moving to London. If you have an offer from a London-based university then you can study there pretty easily.

It’s worth mentioning that you can only work up to 20 hours on a student visa, so you really need to assess if you can afford the move without a full-time wage.

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3. The Job Availability

Speaking of jobs, you’re going to want to check if your chosen field is in demand in the UK. Since leaving the EU, the UK is operating on a model similar to Australia, where there’s a list of in-demand jobs that’s always being updated.

If you meet the criteria for any of these jobs you might be able to get fast-tracked through the visa process as well as receive help to be paired with an appropriate role.

These jobs are constantly changing, so if your specialism isn’t on there right now, keep on checking back over the next few months.

One of the questions you’re going to have to ask yourself is ‘are you willing to move to London without a job?’.

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Now, if you’re able to move to London on a visa that doesn’t require an offer of employment beforehand, or you’re coming as a student, you’ve got to think about how you’re going to afford to stay in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Similarly, if you’re on a family connection or spousal visa, do you want to move without having a job lined up already?

There are plenty of jobs available in London if you’re prepared to roll your sleeves up. Sign up to sites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn to keep an eye on the vacancies before you arrive so you can get a feel for the job availability in your chosen field.

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