Moving to the UK from France

Are you a French national considering a move to the UK?

Then you’re probably wondering what you can and cannot do, and whether you need a visa.

First, it all depends on why you want to move to the UK and when you’re planning to do it.

Unless you’ve avoided the news cycle for the past four years, you’re probably aware that Brexit has happened. You might even be wondering what that will mean for your rights as a French person living in the UK.

The short answer is, right now nothing has changed. But it’s likely that it will in the future.

So, to help make the situation clearer, this article covers the three main reasons for people moving to the UK from France:

  • Studying
  • Working
  • Joining family

There is also a section dedicated to language and cultural differences, to give a quick overview of what to expect from British life.

Studying in the UK

As France is a European Union (EU) country, you do not need a visa to study in the UK if you’re from France. All students from the EU are treated the same as domestic (UK) students.

However, the UK and the EU are currently in a Brexit transition period, which will end on 31st December 2020.

For the 2020/2021 academic year, the British government has confirmed that EU students will be classed as “home” students. That means, if you’re from France, you won’t have to pay international fees or apply for a student visa. For future academic years though, it has not yet been announced what will change.

On a more positive note, the UK has a vibrant international student community. People move from all over the world to study at British universities and colleges. That makes university cities and towns exciting places to be.

The main thing to consider if you’re moving from France to study in the UK is to have good English language skills. For most university courses, it has to be level B2 and above.

Unless you specifically want to study English in the UK. In that case, it will depend on what level of English you want to study.

Working in the UK

As with studying in the UK, people from France currently don’t need a visa to work in the UK. That’s because the UK is still in the Brexit transition phase.

Freedom of movement is one of the cornerstones of the EU and has been widely debated during Brexit discussions. But it’s not yet known what rights workers from the EU will have from 2021.

Until the end of 2020 though, people from France can move to the UK and get a job without needing to apply for a work visa.

There is also a scheme for EU citizens to apply for settlement as long as they are in the country by 31st December 2020. This will ensure a continuation of residence rights, including being able to work without a visa.

The deadline for applying for the EU Settlement Scheme is 30th June 2021.

Joining family in the UK

If you are from France and want to join family that are already living in the UK, you can do so without applying for a visa. For now.

Again, the future requirements will depend on what happens with Brexit.

In the current situation, there are things to consider, like health cover and English language skills. These issues will depend on your personal circumstances, such as age and life stage (e.g. retirement).

Speaking a different language

Moving from France to the UK means living in a different country.

The two nations might be close neighbours, but there are some key differences. And it’s important to be aware of them before making the jump across the English Channel.

The most obvious difference is the language.

English is the national language in the UK and is widely spoken in all regions. Although in many different accents.

Even in Welsh-speaking areas of Wales or Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland, English is still the dominant language.

So, it’s recommended to at least have some basic English language skills before moving to the UK from France.

The British lifestyle and culture

Apart from the language, there are a few other cultural differences to be aware of.

  • As in French culture, British people don’t like to be boastful. They also don’t like it in others. But a good sense of humour goes a long way.
  • A handshake is a standard greeting in the UK when meeting new people. But, as this article has been written during coronavirus times, handshakes are currently off the menu.
  • It’s common to refer to people by their first names, even in business.

Finally, when it comes to a work/life balance, there is a noticeable difference between the two countries.

In the UK, it’s typical for people to work long hours and there is often a high level of pressure in a job. Whereas in France, there is a healthier approach to balancing work and personal commitments.

As with most things in life though, experience is everything.

So, if you’re considering moving from France to the UK, it’s a good idea to visit first to get a taste of the culture. And if you already have friends or family living there, ask them about day-to-day British life.

Moving to a new country is exciting, but it can also be challenging. That’s why being prepared is the best way to make a success of it.


Article Created By Hayley Maguire

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