Job outlook for US citizen in the UK?
February 6, 2014 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Partnered with an EU citizen, likely soon becoming a trailing spouse. I am a master's-level clinician (NP) whose qualifications will sadly not be recognized by the NHS. Questions for the green: - Thoughts on general job prospects/climate for foreigners? - Does marriage to an EU citizen improve/hinder chances of job placement? We are not married, and neither desiring/against marriage as an institution. Okay with getting married if it will smooth our transitions a bit. - Suggestions for job seekers' resources in the UK, particularly London? Bonus points for health-related and/or immigrant-focused resources.

I've heard the anti-immigration sentiment in the UK is at an all-time high. As a skilled (but not skilled enough) worker, my credentials and education will be basically null on arrival to the UK. With 10 years' experience in healthcare, I am looking at starting from the bottom as a nursing aide or other "unskilled" laborer. Because healthcare training programs are NHS-funded, I am not eligible to retrain, and the time/financial burdens of doing so would be prohibitive.

Hoping the green can offer some experience/insight into how I might go about making my future look a little less nebulous. Thanks in advance!
posted by stillmoving to Work & Money (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You're probably all over this already, but keep an eye on USAjobs for NP positions in the UK. Currently the Army's hiring for Germany, Italy, and South Korea, but perhaps they or another branch might have something.

Air Force is hiring primary care physicians in the UK - figure out where that is and see if there's the potential for an NP role.

Good luck!
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:38 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't really want to go into this very deeply on MeFi, but if you are white and speak English as your first language, the "anti-immigration sentiment" doesn't include you.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:39 PM on February 6, 2014 [16 favorites]

It is high, especially if you watch the news/read the papers, and it will be depressing, especially when they go "Oh, you're not one of those immigrants."

But it won't be that bad, especially in London, which is really one of the best places to be an immigrant in the UK at.

But while your qualifications might not be good for exactly what you were doing in the states, they'll definitely be good for a job in the medical industry - how are you with research? admin? logistics? someone who has experience on one side is very sought after on the other side.

Just polish up the CV, make sure that it's clear that you're from the US, so your degree's a little different, and then hit all the agencies you can find. It'll work out fine.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:41 PM on February 6, 2014

Here are a couple of listings for Nurses/EMT-Paramedic in the UK on the USAJOBS site. It's in Lakenheath, wherever that is.

Here is the information from the Nursing and Midwifery Council about registering as a nurse in the UK.

If you're an OB NP, then they have a course you can take that will adapt your current credential to the UK standard.

Honestly, that sounds like it would set you up to be a nurse in the UK.

I'm assuming US Citizen, please update if that's not the case. But there is a path for becoming certified in the UK with a US credential.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:47 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

First thoughts: are you sorted out for entry clearance? It's increasingly non-trivial for a non-EU citizen to move to the UK, and there are various different routes that may or may not rely upon your partner's income, a potential job offer that satisfies immigration requirements, or where you're currently based. Finding a job with a US governmental entity would be useful here, although the federal jobs route has its own bureaucratic obstacle course.

figure out where that is

Almost certainly Lakenheath and Mildenhall in East Anglia, both of which are just about commutable to London by train, but are out on a limb for anywhere other than the East of England.

it will be depressing, especially when they go "Oh, you're not one of those immigrants."

Yeah, that's the way in which it's generally parsed: "oh, not you, we just have to deal with all those other immigrants", and when it's pointed out that changes in immigration policy affect all immigrants equally, blank stares.
posted by holgate at 1:55 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I moved to the UK, I'm American, and ended up working in Supported Housing... It was the one area where my teaching degrees/experience were helpful, as they showed an ability who work with vulnerable people. You might have a nose around those websites and see what's on offer. Memail me if you want help finding these associations online...

I wouldn't consider lakenheath an option unless you were living in the area. Lakenheath is in the middle of nowhere. B roads, B roads, B roads... And the train from kings cross is over 2 hours with multiple changes... And depending in where you started- easily a 3 hour trip- and my last 3 train journeys in the UK, in the last 6 months, were plagued by delays.
posted by misspony at 2:18 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

You say not recognized by the NHS. Would they be recognized by a private practice? I wouldn't be surprised if the answer were yes or no, though if it were yes I would imagine openings are rare and highly competitive.

Ditto on white Americans not really being included in anti-immigrant sentiment. Non-white Americans/Canadians/etc's experience can vary.
posted by K.P. at 2:40 PM on February 6, 2014

There is a whopping shortage of nurses at the moment here. The NHS near me is recruiting from abroad as a result. If you can get your qualifications recognised, you will find work right across the country, no problem at all.
posted by prentiz at 4:01 PM on February 6, 2014

Best answer: I work for an NHS trust and word from colleagues is that they find it hard to fill nursing and healthcare assistant roles. So you could certainly look for HCA positions on Here's all the slightly above entry level jobs in the NHS in London at the moment, for example.

But I'd be a lot more optimistic about transferring your registration than you are. They have apparently recently changed from automatically accepting US, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian nurses preferentially, though. In terms of finding work in healthcare, certainly at the patient facing end, there's an unusually large proportion of the workforce that's not UK born, so there's no problem getting hospital work.

In terms of anti-immigration sentiment, political rhetoric is horrifying at the moment, but depending on where your spouse comes from, negative sentiment far more likely to be addressed at EU citizens than US ones, so that's to be looked out for if your spouse is from a new EU member state.
posted by ambrosen at 4:04 PM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies, all! This is super helpful. The USA Jobs site has been hit-or-miss for me, and I wonder if anyone has had success with it?

I am mostly concerned because I have spoken with dozens of people who have been unable to find work or sponsorship in the UK or had insurmountable obstacles from the NHS. While I am okay with giving up my career, I don't know what else I'm qualified for, and nervous about taking a 60-80% pay cut.

To respond to some of the questions above:
- Partner is from an original EU member state (a wealthy, well-accepted one, I think), and works a higher-skilled, white-collar job and likely makes enough to sponsor me for immigration
- I became a nurse through an accelerated program for NPs, and have a non-nursing bachelor's. Because I never worked as a hospital nurse, I have been told it will be impossible for me to be licensed there. The NMC website confirms this, as they require 12 months full-time nursing experience, which I do not (and will not) have.
- @holgate: I am not sure what entry clearance is, so I imagine I'm not yet sorted out for it. We are planning our move for the end of 2014. I would love to hear more about this.

I would love to hear more suggestions like the Supported Housing idea, if possible!

Thanks MeFites!!
posted by stillmoving at 5:47 PM on February 6, 2014

Best answer: I suspect most of the UK openings on the USAjobs site are for jobs on military bases, which are all very much in the middle of nowhere. A daily commute between a base and London would be a major ordeal. (RAF/USAF Mildenhall to London is about an 80 mile drive, or 2 1/2 hours by public transport, according to google maps.)
posted by monotreme at 6:44 PM on February 6, 2014

Best answer: 'Entry clearance' is just UK legalese for what most people would call a residency visa. If you can arrange things so that you fall under the criteria of the EEA family permit it will be smoother than other options in terms of actually being allowed into the UK -- better than if your partner were a UK citizen, because there's no application fee and the British government has less wiggle-room to mess around with the rules and criteria to placate the xenophobes. However, it's a bit more hassle once: you have the right to work from day one, but you'll have difficulty getting an employer to accept you're in the UK legally until you get a residence document.
posted by holgate at 7:47 PM on February 6, 2014

Best answer: If your license is truly not transferable, one avenue I would investigate for work is home healthcare -- not necessarily as a home healthcare worker, but perhaps in a management or supervisory role. The NHS also provides telephone triage staffed through agencies, and while it wouldn't be thrilling, it would be relevant. Or indeed, you might be a good candidate to provide recruitment for an agency.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:33 AM on February 7, 2014

Best answer: You might find the UK-Yankee forum of help.
posted by atlantica at 1:53 AM on February 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: However, it's a bit more hassle once: you have the right to work from day one, but you'll have difficulty getting an employer to accept you're in the UK legally until you get a residence document.

The EEA Family Permit does clearly state on it: "Employment and Business Activities allowed."

stillmoving: I am the American spouse of an EU citizen living in the UK. As holgate says, you do want to get permits and the like as soon as you can. The UK and thus UK Employers are being much more strict about documentation than they have been in the past. Your timeline is roughly as follows:

1) Apply and get an EEA Family Permit before moving to the UK. This document is issued outside the UK by British embassies. I got mine from the British embassy in Los Angeles. Turnaround time was about a week (this was in 2008)
2) Once in the UK, get an application out for a temporary residence card. EEA2 is the form you want. The timing of this is tricky since they need you to mail them your passport but you need your passport to apply for jobs - classic UK Border Agency Catch-22.
3) That residence card is good for 5 years.After that you file an EEA4 form for Permanent Residency.

I should note that being an EU spouse is right now one of the best/easiest ways to get into the UK and start working. It is easier than UK visas, many of which are strict and conditional. And, paradoxically, it is easier than being a British spouse since the EU offers more protections for immigration than the UK grants to its own citizens! (Yet another UKBA paradox. See this BBC article for an example of the ridiculous situations this leads to...)
posted by vacapinta at 3:32 AM on February 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Think about project worker posts in charities. Most people are staying in their jobs right now so could be hard to get a way in.. is your background psych or general? Look up things like Addaction, Richmond Fellowship if the former and if it interests you (possible even the latter...) Good luck :)
posted by tanktop at 11:11 AM on February 7, 2014

Assuming (re-reading the original question) that you're a spouse and you have all the paperwork in order before making landfall --

Make plans on the assumption that you won't be employed initially. Look at conversion courses to make your qualifications and work history into something that makes either the NHS or one of the MANY MANY nursing agencies(*) in London want to hire you. Then start earning.

* Friends and former housemates from Ireland in London used to get a week off in 5 because of night shift arrangements in their 'regular' jobs, then work their weeks off for an agency somewhere else for the cash. So there's a *big* agency scene for nursing in London.

posted by genghis at 6:28 PM on February 7, 2014

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