What is immigration?

Immigration can be a tricky topic. Each country has its own set of rules with different methods for encouraging or controlling immigration levels. But what exactly is immigration?

Immigration means moving to another country. Often to work or study, or even a mixture of both. In most cases it involves speaking a different language and embracing a new culture.

The process of moving overseas is known as emigrating, which is an exciting venture. But not without bureaucracy to navigate. Mostly in the form of visa applications.

In the UK, the Home Office has the final say on immigration matters with the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) department receiving millions of applications each year.

But why do people emigrate to the UK and where do they come from?

Let’s find out by looking at some immigration trends and the most common ways that people migrate.

UK immigration trends

Last year, more than 600,000 people migrated to the UK. That’s a lot of visa applications and a lot of paperwork for UKVI to process.

For non-EU citizens, study is the most common reason for people to emigrate to the UK. With a large majority of international students coming from Asia.

There has also been an increase in people from Asia moving to the UK for work. And it’s estimated there are more than two million EU nationals working in the country.

As a result, the UK is a multi-cultural society, with a population that continues to grow.

But how do all these people get a visa in the first place? Let’s take a look at how the immigration system works.

Moving to the UK for work

Most people that move to the UK for work are granted a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa.

It involves being sponsored by an employer and allows companies to fill positions in skilled occupations like healthcare, accounting and teaching. Especially for roles that can’t be filled by the resident workforce already living in the UK.

There is more to it than just being offered a job though. The employer has to prove that no one else can do the role, known as passing the Resident Labour Market Test. And the salary has to pass the minimum threshold set by the government.

There are four types of Skilled Worker Visa:

  • General Visa – most common work visa
  • Intra-company Transfer Visa – for global companies with a UK office
  • Sportsperson Visa – for high-level sports professionals
  • Minister of Religion Visa – for preaching, pastoral or missionary work

A Skilled Worker Visa isn’t the only route though. Other work-based immigration pathways include entrepreneurship, establishing a start-up and being considered a global talent.

Moving to the UK to study

Education is the most common reason that people move to the UK.

In fact, there are around 460,000 international students enrolled at British universities each year. With Chinese and Indian nationals making up more than 50 per cent of all international students.

Then there are EU students, that don’t have to apply for a visa and so aren’t included in these figures. The result is a global community of students, spread out across towns and cities throughout the UK.

There are three types of student visas:

  • General Student Visa – the most common type issued
  • Child Student Visa – for children aged four to 17
  • Short-term Study Visa – for English language students and short courses

All of these categories come under the umbrella of the Tier 4 Student Visa.

Joining family in the UK

Many families around the world live in different countries. But there often comes a time when people either want, or need, to live closer to each other again.

This usually means someone moving to another country. For people with family living in the UK, there are ways to join them.

The Family Visa is divided into four categories:

  • Partner/Spouse Visa
  • Parent Visa
  • Dependent Children
  • Dependent Adult Relatives

The right immigration route will depend on your relationship to the family member in the UK and your own personal circumstances. For example, if you’re retired, engaged or need care.

It might also be the case that you want to join family in the UK but don’t qualify for a Family Visa. Instead, it could be worth pursuing other pathways, like work or study.

Claiming British ancestry

The UK Ancestry Visa is linked to the Commonwealth and allows people with British heritage to live and work in the UK.

So, if you have a grandparent that was born in the UK, including the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Ireland before 1922, or on a British-registered ship or aircraft, then you can apply for the Ancestry Visa.

The British government also recognises legal adoption. That means even if you or your parent were adopted, you should still be able to claim ancestry.

However, the Home Office will only accept applications from people outside of the UK. If you’re already in the country, you will have to leave to apply for this visa.

Immigration next steps

As you can see, there are many different types of immigration and the above examples are just a selection of the most common types of visas issued in the UK.

If you’re considering moving to the UK, it’s a good idea to research the types of visa routes available to find out which one is best suited to you.

VisaFox is a great place to start, as well as the UK government website (link below). It can also be useful to speak to an immigration advisor before planning your next steps.



Article Created By Hayley Maguire

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