So you’ve decided you’d like to retire in the UK! What are the options available for an American to retire here. Is it a realistic goal?
I’ve done the research for you. Find out if it’s possible to move here as a citizen or with “indefinite leave to remain”. Indefinite Leave to Remain means you have the legal right to “settle” here to live, work and study as long as you like. You can use ILR to apply for British citizenship.
As an American citizen who’s considering whether or not to retire in the UK, I’ve used research from the official Gov.uk site to help guide you. Below I’ve outlined the main paths to citizenship or retiring here.
Your Best Options to Retire in the UK
- As a family member or partner of British citizen
- As a family member or partner of a settled resident
- You already have a retired person visa
- You’ve settled in the UK before
- You’ve been in the UK legally for 10 years
- You’re in the UK on a UK ancestry visa
- You’re eligible for an Investor Tier 1 visa (see update below)
- You’re eligible for an Innovator Founder visa
Unfortunately, the UK recently retired it’s “Retired Persons” visa. The Retired Persons visa was an affordable way to live in the UK with reasonable income requirements (a minimum income of £25,000 per year) and gain permanent settled status as a Retired Person of Independent Means but is no longer offered.
Eligibility required a close connection to the UK either through family ties, business or residence so it wasn’t suitable for everyone. If you’re already in the UK under this visa, you still have the option of extending it.
Exploring Your Options to Retire in the UK
Unless you have family connections, have lived in the UK for a long period or are currently in the UK on an existing visa, your options to retire here as a permanent resident are limited.
Check to see if these options to retire in the UK may apply to your situation:
Are you the family member or partner of a British citizen? You may be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) if you have a family member settled here either as a citizen of with ILR. Learn more here.
You’re the family member or partner of someone who has settled in the UK. You may be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) if you have a family member settled here with ILR. Learn more here.
You previously had a retired person visa. Unfortunately this visa is no longer open to new applicants.
You’ve been settled in the UK before. You may be able to return to the UK to live permanently if you have lived here before. The rules differ depending on whether you have been gone for more or less than 2 years. Learn more here.
You’ve been in the UK legally for 10 years and are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Learn more here.
You’re in the UK on a UK ancestry visa. If you’ve spent 5 years in the UK on an Ancestry Visa you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Learn more here.
The Investor (Tier 1) visa is no longer available. If you already have this visa (or had one in the last 12 months and it was your most recent visa), you may still apply.
Innovator Founder Visa Are you thinking of setting up a new and innovative business in “retirement”? You may be eligible for an Innovator Founder visa (formerly known as the Innovator visa) if:
- you want to set up and run a unique business in the UK that’s different from any other business currently operating
- your business idea will need to be endorsed by an approved endorsing body
- you meet eligibility requirements such as the English language requirement, are 18 or older and have enough money to support yourself while you’re in the UK
- you may need to show enough funds to operate your business (unless it’s already established)
- you can stay for 3 years on this visa and apply to extend by 3 years with no limit
- find out more about the Innovator Founder visa
Learn More about UK visas:
- How Can I Move to England from the USA?
- What Options do Americans Have to Retire in the UK?
- Can I Work Remotely in the UK?
- Can You Qualify for a Move to the UK?
- UK Spouse, Partner or Fiance Visa – What You Need to Know
Options to Retire in the UK
Most of these options are open to non US citizens as well. In fact if you’re from a commonwealth country like Canada or some EU countries you may have different options to settle in the UK that aren’t open to Americans.
Before you get too discouraged, I recommend visiting or staying for up to 6 months. You can stay in the UK for up to 6 months at a time with no limit if you are simply a visitor or tourist.
Try life in the UK on for size. Be sure this is where you want to retire. Even with the common language and culture, the lifestyle and amenities may be very different than what you’re used to. You may find that having the best of both worlds – a home here in England a home in the US – is the best way to retire. You can open a bank account and buy a home here without citizenship. Unfortunately that doesn’t entitle you to live here full time but it’s a start!
This information comes from the official Gov.uk website and will remain as up to date as the official source. During my research I found articles that weren’t entirely accurate or were out of date due to the UK government discontinuing some visa options. I’m not a lawyer nor am I offering legal advice, so please do your research and good luck!