UPDATED July 2023
How can you move to England from the USA? Get started here.
1. Moving to England as a temporary resident
2. Moving to England as a permanent resident
3. Visa Options for Residency or UK citizenship
4. Applying for a UK work/study/family visa
5. Visit or move to the UK and find a place to live
6. Move your personal goods to the UK
How Can You Move to England from the USA?
There are basically two options for American citizens to live in England:
- As a temporary resident or
- As a permanent resident with Indefinite Leave to Remain or Citizenship.
1. Move to England as a Temporary Resident
American citizens can live in the UK up to 6 months without a visa. If you want to visit more frequently you can apply for a 2, 5 or 10 year Standard Visitor Visa. This allows you to stay for up to 6 months at a time for the duration of your visa.
Can you work in the UK without a visa?
No – unless you have a specific visa allowing you to work.
Can you study in the UK without a visa?
Yes – for up to 6 months. A study visa is required to stay for 6 months or longer
2. Move to England as a Permanent Resident
To become a permanent resident of the UK you must have “Right of Abode” giving you the right to live and work without restrictions. Once you become a British citizen you have “Right of Abode”.
You’re eligible for British citizenship:
- if you were born in England
- married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen
- have a British parent (see below)
- have a British grandparent (see below)
- if you have indefinite leave to remain (see below)
Citizenship through a British Parent
If you have at least one British parent who was born in the UK, you might be a citizen and not need a visa. Find out if you qualify.
Rare double-descent cases regarding historic sexism. For example your grandmother was born in the UK, your mother couldn’t register as a British Citizen and you were born before 1983. Other qualifications may also exist for you here too. Find out if you qualify.
Citizenship through Ancestry
You have Canadian citizenship and you have one grandparent born in the UK then you can qualify through ancestry. Unfortunately Americans can’t qualify through this ancestry loophole unless they’re also Canadian citizens. Find out if you qualify.
Live in the UK with Indefinite Leave to Remain
If you want to live in England permanently but you don’t have citizenship, you’ll need to apply for “indefinite leave to remain” or settlement. Indefinite leave to remain gives you “leave” to settle here. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible. You can use it to apply for British citizenship. Find out if you qualify.
Find out more about qualifying for British citizenship here.
3. Visa Options for Residency or UK citizenship
Here’s the different visas you can apply to gain residency:
- Study as an undergrad or grad (doesn’t include continuing ed courses but does include certain trade schools)
- Study as a high school or grade school student. One parent can come too!
- Exceptional Talent – You’re a superstar in your field
- High Potential Ivy league graduate educated within 5 years allowing you to work for 2-3 years.
- Skilled worker- see skills shortage list
- Spousal Visa – Marriage or Civil Partnership includes LGBT+
- Non-Spousal Visa– Couples who co-habitate for 2 years plus, includes LGBT+
- Fiancé Visa – (6-month visa) Includes LGBT+
- Parent of a Child– When your child is British
- Parent of a Child – When the child is attending school in the UK
- Work visas – list of UK short term and long term work visas.
5. Visit or Move to the UK and Find a Place to Live
When you’re ready to find a home in the UK, can you buy or rent?
You can buy a home without citizenship or right to remain, however until you have residency you’ll only be able to live in the home for up to 6 months at a time.
You can rent a home only if you DO have the Right of Abode (Right to Remain) in the UK. Landlords and estate agents can get in trouble if they bypass this law! Expect to find short term accommodation until you do.
Get more information on finding a place to live in the UK here.
Visit my Youtube channel to get ideas on where to live in England.
6. Moving Personal Goods to England
Use your overseas flight baggage allowance to move small possessions. It’s cheaper to pay for extra bags ahead of time than ship them separately. Be prepared to answer any customs questions!
Consider leaving behind items that are easily replaceable. Rent a storage space in the US or leave irreplaceable possessions with a friend until you decide if your move to the UK will be permanent. I used UPakWeship to ship my favorite possessions in a small crate.
HMRC (UK customs) gives you one year to move your personal goods over to the UK without paying customs or VAT taxes on them. I highly recommend you take advantage of this 12 month period to avoid extra costs.
Countries Included in UK Citizenship
With British or UK citizenship you’re eligible to live and work in all four United Kingdom countries which includes: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
To make it more confusing, Ireland (southern Ireland) is NOT part of the United Kingdom but is still part of the EU. If your flight lands in Dublin, that’s Ireland and not the UK. If it lands in Belfast, you’re in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Join Americans in the United Kingdom, a helpful expat group on Facebook
Although I’ve written this article specially for my fellow Americans, most advice applies to anyone who wants to relocate to England. Please remember to seek professional legal advice if and when you choose to relocate!