Moving to the UK from EU

Relocating from the EU to the UK

According to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, there were an estimated 4 million EU-born nationals living in the UK. While this number has fallen since Brexit and the ending of free movement, millions of EU nationals still call the UK home. It is estimated that Polish nationals make up 21% (826,000) of all EU citizens living in the UK, followed by Romania with 14% (554,000), Ireland with 10% (389,000) and Germany with 7% (298,000). The good news is that despite Brexit, it is still perfectly possible for EU nationals to live, work, study, and join family in the UK with an understanding of the visa system. In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about relocating from the EU to the UK, in particular, the legal requirements, the cost of living in the UK, and a relocation checklist. We also answer many of the frequently asked questions asked about moving from the EU to the UK.

Moving from the EU to the UK after Brexit

As most EU nationals will know, the UK left the EU at 11pm GMT on the 31st December 2020 (at the stroke of midnight in Brussels). This ended the right of free movement of citizens between the EU and UK citizens. EU nationals residing in the UK before the end of 2020 were able to apply to stay indefinitely under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), but those who did not now need to apply for a visa to work, study, or join family members. Thankfully, with the assistance of an immigration specialist based in the UK, securing a work, study, business, self-sponsorship, or family visa is relatively straightforward.

Moving to the UK from the EU benefits

For EU nationals seeking to relocate, the UK offers enormous benefits, including:

  • An excellent transport system making it easy to travel to any EU country by plane, train, or car cost-effectively.
  • A strong and diverse economy.
  • Many highly skilled and well-paid jobs.
  • Low levels of business administration and ‘red tape’.
  • Lots of history and culture (e.g. museums, theatres, and cathedrals)
  • Stunning villages, mountains, hills, lakes, and countryside, and
  • Highly respected and internationally renowned schools and universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, St Andrews, and University College London (UCL).

Transforming Lives: Real Stories of Client Satisfaction

"This was my first application for a skilled worker visa and A Y & J helped me through it, making me feel at ease with the process. Very quick replies on e-mails & assistance provided by Imad and Silvia was excellent. Truly could not have had a better experience. Would absolutely recommend them if assistance required."

Isis Smid

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"They are the best, very reliable and always on time"

Mashavave Viola

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"I will be glad to work with you again and again ❤️ you are the best 💋 and l will love to contact you when ever l need your support."

Ogunnaike Olakunle

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"This was our 2nd application for my wife's visa. A Y & J Solicitors were recommend to us and they delivered. Right from the outset. The process was explained thoroughly. We was not pushed to commit. Our appointed Solicitor Nagina was absolutely brilliant. Took all our concerns away and approached our application in a professional manor. Can not recommend enough. Thank you A Y & J & a special thanks to Nagina"

neil Pedder

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"I'm very pleased to recommend Diana and her team. They have consistently provided excellent service and achieved successful outcomes in our applications, thanks in part to Ikra's outstanding casework and exceptional support throughout the process. She ensured we fully understood everything and addressed any questions we had promptly and professionally."

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"My experience with the A Y & J and Team was amazing. Mehak was very accessible and honest person which makes you feel instantly at ease. if you are looking for an affordable law firm, that actually treats you like a real person and makes everything run smoothly, then you have found it! I finished all my uk skilled work visa application with A Y & J. Thanks A Y & J."

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Other UK visas for Canadian citizens

Several other UK visas available to Canadian nationals include the following:

  • Global Talent visa – for leaders and potential leaders in the areas of academia or research, arts and culture, and digital technology. Holders can stay for up to 5 years and apply to settle permanently after 3 or 5 years, depending on their area of leadership.
  • High Potential Individual (HPI) visa – this route is open to those who graduated from McGill University, the University of British Columbia, or the University of Toronto. Holders can work, look for work, be self-employed, and bring their partner and children. Visas are normally granted for 2 years, at which point you will need to switch to a different visa type (it cannot be extended and does not qualify for permanent settlement)
  • Innovator Founder visa – for those who wish to establish a new, viable, and scalable innovative business in the UK. Holders can stay for up to 3 years and then renew or apply for permanent settlement.

As an EU national planning to relocate to the UK, it is important to understand the legal

  • Have a job offer for an eligible occupation with a licenced UK employer
  • Meet the minimum salary requirement of £38,700 per year (or the ‘going rate’ for your occupation). The salary threshold that you need to meet may be lower if you have a PhD, a job on the UK government’s immigration salary list, or you are a new entrant to the job market.
  • Meet the English language requirement – normally by passing an approved secure English language test (SELT).

UK Student visa

To apply for a study visa to attend a British university, college, or school as a national of the EU, you must:

  • Be 16 years or over.
  • Have been offered a place on a course with an approved educational provider in the UK (i.e. university or school).
  • Have sufficient personal funds to support yourself while you are studying in the UK.
  • Have sufficient funds to pay for your course.
  • Meet the English language requirements (writing, reading, and speaking) – normally by passing an approved secure English language test (SELT).

If approved, you will be able to stay in the UK for the length of your course of study. If you wish to stay in the UK after your course ends to find employment, you can then apply for a 2-year UK Graduate visa.

UK Innovator Founder visa

If you are an aspiring business person or seasoned entrepreneur from the EU, the UK’s Innovator Founder visa may be ideal for you. With this visa, you will be able to relocate to the UK to establish a new and innovative business and settle permanently after just 3 years (rather than the normal 5 years). To apply for a UK Innovator Founds visa as an EU national, you must:

  • Be 18 years or over.
  • Be able to demonstrate that you have an idea for a new, unique, viable, and scalable business.
  • Have your business plan endorsed by an approved endorsing body in the UK
  • Meet the English language requirement - normally by passing an approved secure English language test (SELT).
  • Have sufficient personal funds to support yourself while you set up your business here.

This is just a small selection of the many visas available to EU nationals. To better understand the best route for your needs and those of your partner and children, please speak to an experienced immigration specialist. They will assess your situation and long-term plans and recommend the most suitable visa, including some that you may not be aware of, such as self-sponsorship (see below for more details).

How to set up your finances in the UK?

Like much of the EU, the UK has a robust modern digital banking system, making it easy to open and manage bank accounts. Rather than trying to open a bank account in your home country, it is best to do this when you arrive. This is because UK banks will require proof of your identity and your permanent UK address.

Once in the UK, you will also need to apply for a National Insurance (NI) number. This is required before you start work or running your new business venture. Like the banking system, the tax system is also very simple in the UK. If you are employed, you will simply provide your NI number to your employer, and any tax you owe will be automatically collected by your employer and paid to the government through the ‘Pay As You Earn’ (PAYE) system.

EU nationals running a business in the UK will need to prepare a ‘self-assessment tax return’ more submission to HMRC each year. An accountant in the UK will ensure that your return is prepared correctly and submitted to HMRC on time.

Get in touch with our immigration experts for help with your move to the UK from EU

What is the cost of living in the UK?

The cost of living in the UK is generally higher than in many southern and eastern European countries but lower than in some northern or western countries such as Norway and Switzerland. According to recent figures, the UK has the fifth highest minimum wage across Europe, behind Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The food prices are broadly comparable with most of Europe but considerably cheaper than in France.

It is important to bear in mind two factors when it comes to the cost of living in the UK. Firstly, your costs will vary considerably depending on where you live. Living in central London can be extremely expensive, whereas living in a small village or town is generally much more affordable. This is especially the case when it comes to rent. The other factor is that wages for highly skilled jobs are often higher than in other EU countries, therefore balancing out the cost of living.

Emigrating to the UK from the EU – Checklist

Making the move from an EU country to the UK can be daunting and time-consuming, but by taking the following important steps early on, you make the whole process as simple and straightforward as possible:

  • Conduct thorough research on your immigration options – speak to an immigration specialist in the UK regarding your plans and current situation to better understand which routes will meet your needs.
  • Make sure you have a job offer from a UK employer before you apply for a work visa.
  • Create a realistic and detailed budget spreadsheet to work out your likely costs and income in the UK.
  • Work out your likely cost of moving, including transport, removal costs, and rent deposit, etc.
  • Shortlist the areas where you would like to live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
  • Plan a trip to the UK to visit your preferred areas.
  • Speak to the schools in your preferred areas and ask if they have spaces for your children.
  • Speak to any friends and family who live in the UK for advice and tips on relocating from the EU to the UK.
  • SEU / UK Driving licence - According to the rules, if you are younger than 67 when you become a resident of the UK, you can drive on your EU licence until you are 70. If you are 67 or older when you become a resident, you can drive on your EU licence for 3 years after that point.

What is a Self-Sponsored Route?

The Self-Sponsorship route offers an alternative way for EU nationals who wish to relocate to the UK without the need to apply for a job. Using this approach, you can establish your own business in the UK and effectively sponsor yourself. Our team can explain the process of applying for self-sponsorship process, ensuring you meet all of the legal requirements before doing so. Once in the UK on the self-sponsorship route for the required amount of time, you will be able to apply to settle permanently and later gain British citizenship.

Emigrating to the UK as a non-EU national

If you are a non-EU national who wishes to emigrate to the UK, you will also need to apply for a visa in the same way as an EU national. The most suitable visa for your needs will depend on your home country, whether you have family links to the UK, and what you plan to do in the UK. To better understand your immigration options as a non-EU national, please consider speaking to one of our friendly and insightful UK Immigration Solicitors.

Joining UK Family Members as a Non-EU National

As an EU national with plans to emigrate to the UK to join your partner, spouse, parent, or child already living here, you will most likely need to apply for a Family visa. Your UK-based family member must be a British citizen, a person with indefinite leave to remain, an EU/EEA national who started living in the UK before 1st January 2021 or has refugee status in the UK. If granted, you will be able to join your family in the UK and gain permanent settlement after 5 years of continuous residence and British citizenship one year later.


What documents and information do I need to move to the UK from the EU?

To relocate to the UK for work, you will need:

  • A valid EU passport
  • Evidence of a job offer for an eligible role
  • A Certificate of Sponsorship
  • A bank statement showing that you have enough funds to support yourself and your immediate family members.

These are only some of the documents that you may need to relocate from the EU to the UK. Your immigration advisor will provide you with a complete list of all the documents that you will need based on your chosen visa type.

Do EU citizens need sponsorship to work in the UK?

Yes, since Brexit, if you want to work in the UK as an EU national, you must be sponsored by a UK employer. Alternatively, you can consider the self-sponsorship route (see above).

What should I consider before moving back to the UK from the EU?

If you are a British ex-pat who is moving back to the UK from the EU, we recommend looking into your employment, banking arrangements, and credit rating (you may have lost some of your credit rating if you have been outside the UK for many years). We also advise speaking to an accountant about your tax arrangements. If you have lived in the EU for more than 5 years, you may need to meet different rules for income and capital gains tax. Finally, check whether you will need to ‘top up’ your national insurance contributions so that you are eligible for a UK state pension when you retire.

Moving from the EU to the UK requirements

Please see the legal requirements for moving from the EU to the UK above.

Can you move to the UK from the EU?

Yes, however, EU citizens and their family members require a visa to live in the UK. Please see the visa options explained above.

Are EU citizens allowed to work in the UK?

Yes, but you will need a job offer from a sponsoring employer, a certificate of sponsorship, and a work visa granted by the UK Home Office.

Applying for a UK visa from the EU

As an EU national, you can apply for a visa online through the UK’s Home Office website. You will need to fully complete the application form, pay any required fees, and submit any documents required to support your case. You will also need to meet the requirements for the type of visa you are applying for. An immigration law specialist based in the UK can handle all of this on your behalf.

UK entry requirements from the EU

Please see the legal requirements for moving from the EU to the UK above.

How long can an EU citizen stay in the UK?

The length of time you can spend in the UK will depend on the type of visa you hold. EU nationals can visit the UK for up to 6 months without a visa. Work visas last up to 5 years and provide a route to permanent settlement. Student visas typically last for the duration of the course, but holders can then apply for a Graduate visa to stay in the UK for a further 2 years to find work.

What is the cost of living in the UK?

Please see the cost of living section above.

Moving Back to the UK from the EU: Why are British ex-pats leaving the EU?

Many UK nationals are moving back to the UK from the EU following Brexit and the ending of UK/EU free movement. This is because UK nationals are now restricted to the number of days (90 days in every 180 days) they can spend in the EU. Other UK nationals are returning for work opportunities or to be with family members.

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!

Moving From EU to the UK

Reach out to our immigration advisors to handle your relocation process from beginning to end.

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Moving From EU to the UK

Reach out to our immigration advisors to handle your relocation process from beginning to end.

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