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My close friend is considering moving to the U.K.- well, England actually. She's here in Parkersburg, Western Virginia, USA (where I'm from) right now but was considering moving to the UK following a rather nasty breakup (too long to go into detail on that, complicated story). She's 32, and has a Canadian mom, dad born here, so technically dual U.S./Canadian citizenship IIRC (AFAIK she has both). She was born in Canada but lived here since she was five. I've known her since she was 13 (if it's relevant).

Anyway, she's wanted to move to the UK for a long time now; she's visited several times since she was about 15-16, seen a lot of areas (not just London and Buckingham Palace) and was considering moving to one of these cities:

  • Warrington, Cheshire (not sure what city would be around its size) ; she's visited it a few times, likes the leafiness of the area and thinks the people are friendly. She looked at areas like Birchwood, Sankey (? not sure if I spelt it right) and Risley/Glazebrook (I think Glazebrook's a backwater town, AFAIK)
  • Tyldesley (near Wigan/Manchester). She said it seems pleasant enough, and that there seems to be some sense of community there. and that it was a good little town.
  • Urmston/Trafford. As with the other two - leafy avenues, community spirit etc.
  • She's visited these areas when going to the U.K. so knows them - OK, not that well, but at least knows the basics of where it is on Google maps (roads, malls etc.).

    She's told me that she's got no romantic ideals about the U.K. - she knows it's not going to be easy nor cheap to live there.

    My friend does have skills which would be relevant in the U.K. - she has IT qualifications and some other ones as well (AFAIK it was maths and some business-y related stuff) but now the "Brexit" has come (I saw CNN's Robyn Curnow and Becky Anderson discussing this a few days ago) how would it affect her in terms of immigration? In terms of wealth, she's middle-class (don't know if owning a big Chevy SUV with a V8 and a Chrysler 300 sedan and a large house counts as wealthy or not).

    AFAIK Kelly Evans from CNBC is an expat or was an expat in the UK but I think the info's outdated. Not certain though. Wikipedia claims she is but this is unreliable given that it's Wikipedia...

    I know immigration is a hot-button issue in England (but would my friend face anti-immigration sentiment for being American)?

    She said she wanted to keep her U.S./Canadian citizenship and gain British citizenship too so she can still visit home and Canada (her mom's Canadian, grandparents are Canadian, as are some of her cousins).

    Anyway, would she face too many problems as an expat there and would it be easy for her to get a job? She said she would have moved years ago if the U.K didn't have onerous visa restrictions on Americans working there and said she hopes the "Brexit" will work and that she could get a job there.

    I know there has been dollar-pound instability etc. as a result of this "Brexit" and AFAIK it'll be two years before everything's known about it.

    She's gone on vacation now so that's why I'm asking on her behalf.

    My basic question is... would it be easy for my friend to move to the U.K. with all the Brexit issues and immigration as hot-button topic in the U.K.?

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      If immigrants from the EU lose their favored status, it could increase immigration opportunities for non-EU citizens like your friend. But there could also be a tightening of immigration rules in general, especially in the shorter term. Nobody knows what's going to happen, and it could take two years or more for the necessary decisions to be made and implemented. – phoog Jun 25 '16 at 16:37
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      As someone who has English as a mother tongue I don't think she'll have any issues integrating into the society - given she gets a sponsored job, with the necessary salary requirements. If she is also white, then most people won't even realise she is an immigrant. Most likely the salary requirements will be a bit lower after the split, but I can't see that they'll ease on the other requirements. TL;DR: if she can get a job and visa now, then she'll be fine, and will most likely remain fine. – SztupY Jun 25 '16 at 16:49
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    From a checklist perspective, Brexit would not effect your friend since she is a US citizen and would have to jump through (at least) the same number of hoops before or after Brexit. For EU nationals things are different since they were able to just show up without any visa restrictions.

    Your friend should become very familiar with the UK visa restrictions, there can be employment restrictions depending on the visa type and they recently did away with the visa points system.

    Your friend should consider the additional burden of filing taxes. The US has Universal Taxation, and she will still need to file income tax returns every year. In addition, she will need to report any bank accounts on a FBAR form (high and low amounts during the year). Many expats have complained about the filing costs of being a US citizen and being overseas.

    Usually getting visa sponsorship is not the easiest thing to do in the best of times, and given things are so unsettled it's anyone's guess what might happen. In the lead up to the Scottish Referendum, employers stopped hiring.

    The UK and US allow dual citizenship. To get a British passport will take 5 years of paying employment taxes until she gets Indefinite Leave To Remain then another year to become a Settled Resident before she can take the test. During the first 5 years she will have "No Recourse to Public Funds", and this will be stamped in her passport. However, in the event she got married, it would only take 3 years to get citizenship.

    I would advise that your friend have a job in hand before moving to the UK if she can. She should talk to some headhunters in her field in the UK before coming over, maybe they can set up interviews for her. If she has connections into a company so much the better. If she is on an employer sponsored visa, she will be bound to that employer. If something should happen, her visa will be effected. She would be able to move jobs as long as the next employer is willing to sponsor her.

    As with any move, it's never easy, and moving country makes things that much more complex. Even more complex and demanding than moving to San Francisco.

    Unless she is dead set on moving quickly to the UK, she might want to consider spending more time in the area she's thinking of moving to. Possibly taking a course and coming in on a student visa which gives her a longer stay than a tourist visa.

    Good luck!

    • "To get a British passport will take 5 years of paying employment taxes until she gets Indefinite Leave To Remain" No requirement to pay 'employment taxes'. Only that whatever tax responsibilities that they might have, they meet those responsibilities, even if it's just reporting. – ouflak Sep 26 '18 at 13:35

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