Visas and Administration in the UK
The type of UK visa expats need to apply for depends on a lot of different factors, including your home country, the duration of your stay and the reason for your move to the UK. There are quite a few different visa categories, making applying for a UK visa a confusing endeavor both for newcomers and experienced expats.
UK Work Visas and Residence Permits
Visitors to the UK who wish to stay for less than six months and have the financial means to support themselves have to apply for a visitor’s visa (with some exceptions, of course). However, if you come to the UK for a job, you need to secure a work visa beforehand. The categories that most expats fall into include high-value migrants, skilled workers, and temporary workers. After living in the UK for five years, you can apply for a so-called permission to settle. This allows you to stay in the country for as long as you wish. If you apply for an indefinite leave to remain or extend your temporary stay by six months or more, you need to secure a biometric residence permit. Nationals of the EU and EEA can even apply for permanent residency. Although you might not need a permanent residence permit to be legally allowed to live and work in the UK, it can come in handy when you act as a sponsor for a family member who is not an EEA citizen.
When moving to the UK, it is always good to know which items you have to declare to UK customs and which are duty- and tax-free. Although the rules might be quite clear when it comes to cash, cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol, it is not always clear which food products you need to declare and which you are not allowed to import at all. Similar difficulties may arise if you want to take medication and other restricted items to the UK. In any case, make sure to take along a prescription from your doctor. Keep in mind that some types of medication can only be imported in small amounts and require you to apply for a license beforehand. There are, of course, also items which are prohibited altogether, such as guns, illegal drugs, and pornographic media.