- UK citizens can stay in the USA for up to 90 days without a visa
- As a permanent migrant, the work visa and student visa are the most popular
- UK citizens for Northern Ireland are eligible for the diversity visa
Do you want to migrate to the USA from the UK? Read on
A number of UK citizens choose to cross the Atlantic every year and migrate to the USA. Some migrate to study while other make the shift because of better jobs. Whatever your reason for migrating may be, here’s a guide to how you can make the shift.
The British were one of the earliest immigrants in the USA. According to a survey conducted in America in 2017, a little less than 2,000,000 respondents identified themselves as British. The British American community includes people from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Though the percentage of Britishers in America may have reduced since the 1980s, many Britishers still dream of living the American dream.
Why Migrate to the USA?
The UK and the USA share a unique bond because of their cultural, historical and linguistic ties. Trade is also carried out actively between the two countries. The US-UK trade each year is estimated at approximately $200 billion. It is also interesting to note that both nations are top foreign employers of citizens of the other country. About 1 million UK citizens are employed in the USA.
In fact, better job prospects are one of the most common reasons for migrating to the USA. Another reason people move across the Atlantic is the reduced cost of living. Unless you’re moving to New York, the cost of living in the USA is much lower than the cost of living in the UK.
Going to the USA as a Tourist
UK citizens can enter the USA and stay here for up to 90 days without a visa as part of the ‘Visa Waiver Program’.
UK citizens can use the B1 and B2 visas to visit the USA as a tourist for longer stretches of time. These visas are usually valid for 2 years and allow the person to stay in the USA for up to 6 months at a stretch in a rolling 12-month period.
This visa is fairly easy to get as long as one has a valid passport and can prove that one does not intend on overstaying the visa. Many people who want to migrate to the USA, use this tourist visa to look for jobs that will sponsor their work visa.
Migrating to the USA for Work
To work in the USA, you must have a confirmed job offer from a company that is willing to sponsor your work visa. Employees of a UK firm transferring to a US office may apply for intra-company visas. These visas are usually valid for 1-3 years but may be extended to 7 years.
The other types of work visas available include the:
- The H1B visa for skilled and unskilled workers and specialty occupations
- The H3 for trainees
- The O1 and O2 visas for People with extraordinary abilities, athletes, artists, and entertainers
- The P1, P2 and P3 visas for artists, entertainers, athletes and their support personnel
- The Q1 visa for international cultural exchange
- The R1 visa for religious workers and ministers
Each year, approximately 140,000 work visas are awarded to immigrants. Most of these visas are awarded to applicants with advanced degrees. In most cases, the applicant’s spouse and unmarried, minor children may also migrate to the USA on the same visa. However, there may be restrictions on their right to work in the USA.
Not all applicants are granted a work visa. In many cases like that of the H1B visa, categories are oversubscribed. Like immigrants from other countries, migrants from the UK also have to depend on luck for the H1B visa lottery.
Migrate to the USA to Study
Student visas are technically non-immigrant visas. However, many migrants choose to come to the USA on a student visa, complete the course of study and then find a job that will sponsor their work visa. To come to the USA as a student one must apply for an F1 or M1 visa depending on whether the course is academic or vocational.
Students may also migrate to the USA as part of an exchange program or to take up prearranged training, research or employment with specific nonprofit or educational institutes. In such cases, the applicant must apply for a J1 visa.
Migrate to the USA as an Investor
High Net Worth UK citizens may choose to migrate to the USA as investors under the EB-5 visa program. To be eligible for this visa, the applicant must make a minimum capital investment of $1 million in a new commercial enterprise and create full-time employment for at least 10 US citizens.
In place of a new commercial enterprise, the individual may also choose to invest in an existing enterprise in such a way that the investment increases the net worth of the company by at least 40%. If the new enterprise is located in rural parts of America, the investment amount is reduced to $500,000.
Migrate to the USA to get Married
UK citizens can enter the USA as the fiancé of a US national. In such cases, both the migrant and the fiancé should be legally free to get married to each other and the couple should be planning to be married within 90 days of entering the USA.
Migrate to the USA to be Reunited with Family
An American citizen of American green card holder can sponsor a family reunification visa for certain relatives. An American citizen can sponsor parents, siblings, spouse and children while green card holders can only sponsor their spouse and unmarried children. Preferences for this visa are determined by the position of the sponsor and the sponsor’s relationship to the immigrant.
- First Preference: Spouse, minor children and parents of an American citizen
- Second Preference: Unmarried children of an American citizen or green card holder
- Third Preference: Spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 years of a green card holder
- Fourth Preference: Married children of American citizens and green card holders
- Fifth Preference: Siblings of US citizens
The Diversity Visa
The diversity visa program is applicable to citizens of Northern Ireland and UK citizens who are married to a person from a country that is eligible for this visa. Each year the US government awards 55,000 visas under this program. For the financial year 2020, the countries excluded from applying for this visa are:
- Mainland China
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- South Korea
- United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)
Apart from being a native of a country not on this list, the applicant must also fulfill one of the below conditions:
- The applicant must have at least a high school education
- The applicant must have at least 2 years work experience in the past 5 years in an occupation that requires a certain amount of training and experience.
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