The world is my oyster... hopefully.
June 1, 2009 12:09 PM   Subscribe

If I want to live in the UK ten or fifteen years down the road, what do I do to improve my marketability as a skilled worker or immigrant now?

I am American, in my early twenties and married to another American. We both have fairly useless Bachelor's degrees and work full time, making about $50,000 combined. I have a productive career in Web development and my spouse has a menial office job. What can I do in the next ten or fifteen years to make it easier for us to become ex-pats down the road? Should I bother pouring more money into a Master's education (together, my spouse and I have about $30,000 in debt--I really don't want to waste more time in school) or just work my butt off and move upward in my field? Should I court overseas employers for a few years? Currently, we live in a rural area and have no employers with international connections in the area. No kids and no interest in kids, if that makes any difference. Are highly skilled couples accepted over a highly skilled employee and a tag-along spouse?

Any insight into the politics of emigrating from the US is welcome! Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Go here and calculate your points, or the points you'd expect to have in 10 years given your proposed career/education. A Masters will score you more points than a bachelors, but it depends on your field of study, university attended, etc. Once you put your info in you'll see how many more points you need if you're not already there.

You need maintenance funds (at least GBP2800) to migrate, if you can't support yourself, they won't admit you, so I would suggest paying off the debt first. I'd also suggest aiming to go before you're 28 as that's worth 20 points on their calculator.
posted by IanMorr at 12:52 PM on June 1, 2009

The UK, like most countries, want skilled, educated high earners. I'd suggest visiting as a starting point. The Tier 1 system for highly skilled migrants continually changes, and recently they upped the education requirements - you now need a Masters and though that may change, a good rule is probably the higher the better. But you also need a job that pays well before you apply - its a points based system so more points are good. Good luck!
posted by curious zoe at 1:06 PM on June 1, 2009

You could always enrol in a British university to do a Masters' - yes, it's pricier than doing it in the US, but what other opportunity would there be to live in the UK for a year, see how you like it, and make contacts in the meantime?

A Fulbright scholarship tends to only go to the best of the best (or the most networked of the networked) but there's more info on studying in the UK
posted by almostwitty at 2:48 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are a number of things you can do--as suggested--take the test for skilled immigrant which highlights skills/resources currently valued. The best things you can do are: become independently wealthy, have an advanced medical specialty, be able to independently capitalize and launch a business, first become a citizen of another EU country or work for an international company that will transfer you to UK. Keep a clean criminal record. What I would not do is plan on getting a work permit in a field that is relatively pedestrian. Remember, Americans are way down on the list for work permits and permanent residency--all EU and Commonwealth countries are first ( I do believe).
posted by rmhsinc at 6:30 PM on June 1, 2009

If you have a business that can keep you and your wife flush, you might get in. If you have a business that will hire locals, you will get in (at least that was the way it looked when I last went through the criteria). Any chance of turning your career into a business with an eye towards transplanting it to the UK? Or even just getting a business together that you could operate remotely from the UK?
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:07 PM on June 1, 2009

I'm an American knowledge migrant in a different EU country, and my advice is to advance your careers. The companies that I interviewed with were much more interested in my work experience and professional portfolio than in my academic credentials, and I'm only six years out of university. (However, this could vary depending on your field; I imagine there are some fields where a graduate degree matters a lot; the sciences, maybe?).

Having some experience working for an employer with international connections is most likely a plus, but I had never done that before moving, and it didn't seem to be a concern to the employers that I interviewed with. I did play up the fact that I worked with a lot of non-native Americans (mostly people who grew up and were educated in other countries, but had been in the U.S. 10+ years), but no interviewer ever asked about it.

Definitely save up as much money as you can. Moving across the ocean is very expensive -- and I only moved three suitcases' worth of stuff. And it's helpful to have money to live off of while you wait for your first paycheck, sort out your bank account, etc.
posted by transporter accident amy at 12:42 AM on June 2, 2009

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