Moving to the UK from China

Do you want to move to the UK from China? Then you will probably need a visa.

Moving overseas can be challenging but with the right information you can make your dream a reality. And it almost always starts with a visa application.

The British immigration system works on a points basis and there are many different routes to pursue. For example, studying is a common pathway to move to the UK. But work and joining family are other popular reasons for people to start a new life here.

Want to find out the best option for you? This article is an overview of the main visa routes available to move to the UK from China. As well as what to expect from British life.

Moving to the UK for work

Unless you’re retired or planning to study, it’s likely that you will need to work when you move to the UK.

Work is the most common reason for people to emigrate and most migrants apply for the Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa. It has four categories:

  • General Visa – the most common route
  • Intra-company Transfer Visa – for multinational companies with a UK branch
  • Sportsperson Visa – for high level sports professionals
  • Minister of Religion – for preaching, pastoral work and missionaries

To apply for the Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa, you will need a valid job offer and a certificate of sponsorship from a UK employer with a Tier 2 sponsor licence. This means you will have to start applying for jobs before you can apply for the visa.

Then there is the Global Talent Visa for talented individuals in the fields of science, research, innovation and the arts. Or the Start-up Visa for budding entrepreneurs seeking to join the UK start-up scene.

Moving to the UK to study

Last year in the UK, more than 276,000 Tier 4 Student Visas were granted to international students. Of that, 43 per cent of all student visas were granted to people from China.

Like the Skilled Worker Visa, the Student Visa is split into four categories:

For long-term study at university, you will need to apply for the General Student Visa. But if you’re looking to study on a short-term basis up to six months (or 11 months for an English language course), the Short-term Study Visa is the best one to apply for.

Then there is the Child Student Visa, which is for children aged four to 17 that want to study at an independent British school. As long as they have a letter of consent from a parent or guardian.

Whichever route you choose to pursue, you will need to have confirmation of a place on a course to apply for the visa. As well as proof of enough money to support yourself and pay tuition fees.

Joining family in the UK

The UK has a large Chinese community. This means many people from China seek to join their family in the UK. There are four ways to do this in the family visa category:

  • Partner Visa
  • Parent Visa
  • Child Visa
  • Dependent Adult Relative Visa

The Partner Visa is for people in a relationship with someone that lives in the UK. This could be a British citizen, a permanent resident, someone with refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK. And this visa class is open for applications from people that are married, engaged, in a civil partnership or a long-term relationship.

The Parent Visa is for parents seeking to care for a child in the UK. For example, following the breakdown of a relationship with the child’s other parent who is a British citizen or settled in the UK.

The Child Visa is available for children who want to join a parent already living in the UK. You will need proof that the parent has sole responsibility for the child’s upbringing to apply for this visa.

Then there is the Dependent Adult Relative category. This is for people already based in the UK that want to bring relatives from overseas to care for them.

As you can see, there are several ways to join family in the UK. But if none of the options above are suitable, then it might be easier to pursue the work or study route.

Living in the UK

The UK has a strong British culture and identity. But it also has a large multicultural population, with residents from all over the world – including many from China.

Manchester is home to largest Chinese population in the UK. In fact, 3.4 per cent of the entire Chinese population in the UK live in Manchester, followed by 3.2 per cent in Birmingham. You can also find a Chinatown in most major cities, with the one in Liverpool one of the oldest Chinese communities in Europe.

However, there are still some cultural differences to be aware of. Most notably, the language.

As you probably know, the national language in the UK is English, and English language skills are needed for working and studying in the country. It’s even a requirement for most visa applications. So, if you want to move to the UK it’s a good idea to take some English lessons.

Here are a few more cultural aspects of British life to be aware of, both in business and in social situations:

  • The UK has a strong pub culture
  • Work colleagues will often socialise together
  • A handshake is a standard greeting when meeting someone new
  • Using a person’s first name is common in business
  • Good manners and a sense of humour is appreciated
  • A strong work ethic is highly valued
  • Christmas is an important national celebration

And finally, it’s worth mentioning the weather.

British weather is notoriously changeable with a lot of wind and rain. The summer months can be pleasant though and in recent years have been very warm. But the winter is usually grey and cold. Plus, British people like to talk about the weather (it’s not just a cliché) and it’s often used as a conversation starter.

So, if you’re planning to move to the UK from China, decide which visa route is best for you. Or consider visiting the country as a tourist first to get a taste of British life.

Article Created By Hayley Maguire

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