I have been struggling to find concise answers and need to come to a decision regarding my travel.

To briefly summarize my situation, I have recently been hired by a company that has offices both in the US and in the UK. I am a US citizen and my girlfriend of over a year is attending university in the UK. Since I have recently finished university and started working, I would like to live with her in the UK while she completes the remainder of her degree.

I know that I am allowed to work in the UK since the company exists in both countries and I will be paid in USD. The company is also ok with me working remotely from the UK, especially since that will put me closer to the software development team.

Unfortunately, since I am so recently hired, I'm not allowed to begin the visa process for a work permit for 4 weeks.

Here are the concerns that I have:

  • Can I rent a flat or other accommodation with my girlfriend?
  • Am I allowed to "live" in said flat while working remotely with the US branch?
  • If I apply for a long-term visitor visa (2/5/10 years), must I leave every 6 months?
  • If so, how long must I remain out of the UK before re-entry?
  • Will staying in the UK on a visitor visa damage my chances when applying for a work permit?
  • Can I transition from a visitor visa into a work permit?

I do not plan on staying in the UK permanently, only to spend time with my partner while she finishes school. Once she is done (1-2 years time), we will return to the US. During that time, I will need to rent. Hotels will be a financial impossibility for that amount of time.

Finally, to clarify:

  • I will be paid in US dollars, not in British Pounds.
  • I will be working remotely as an employee of the US branch and act as liaison with other employees in the UK and neighboring European area.
  • I will not be seeking permanent residency.
  • I will return to the US after my girlfriend has completed her degree
  • I would like to minimize time spent away from her.
    • I do not wish to anger the Home Office and risk being banned from the UK.
  • 5
    The premise is incorrect. Being employed in the US by a company that also operates in the UK does not authorize you to work in the UK. You need an appropriate work authorization in the form of a visa. A visitor visa will not suffice. A work visa is unlikely to be granted unless the company employs you in the UK as a UK-based employee in compliance with UK labor law.
    – phoog
    Aug 16, 2018 at 17:56
  • @Chase Walden Even in the circumstances you describe IMHO you will not be able to use a long term Standard Visitor Visa to spend the amount of time you are indicating in the UK, since you will effectively be living and working there. See v4.2 gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/… relating to visiting the U.K. for frequent or extended periods. The UK has no fixed period for ‘visa runs’, a rule of thumb being to spend at least the same amount of time out of the U.K. as in it.
    – Traveller
    Aug 16, 2018 at 18:04
  • 1
    This belongs on Expatriates. Perhaps we can get a moderator to migrate it.
    – phoog
    Aug 16, 2018 at 18:07
  • 1
    The appropriate visa is Tier 2 ICT and the UK company the licensed sponsor
    – Giorgio
    Aug 16, 2018 at 18:32
  • Forget it. You're courting disaster by attempting to do what you're planning. At some point you will be stopped at immigration and/or banned. UK Border Force/Immigration are among the worst of the worst when it comes to throwing the book at you.
    – user 56513
    Aug 16, 2018 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


Some answers:

If I apply for a long term visitor visa (2/5/10 year), must I leave every 6 months?

As a US citizen, such a visa is of no use to you. You can enter the UK as a visitor without a visa. Having such a visa does not give you any additional ability to stay in the UK, nor to stay for a longer period of time.

One thing that you can't do with a visitor visa, nor as a visa-free visitor, is "live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits". It is also forbidden to "do paid or unpaid work," which (in practice, at least) includes remote work.

Will staying in the UK on a visitor visa damage my chances when applying for a work permit?

Not if you comply with the terms of the visitor visa, but see above.

Can I transition from a visitor visa into a work permit?


Your best bet is to get the company to transfer you formally to the UK office, but as a new employee that may be easier said than done.

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