How long would it take to move from the US to UK and be ready-for-work?
June 3, 2007 10:01 PM   Subscribe

If I (a Chicagoan with an expired US passport) were to be offered a job in London, how much time would it take to properly document and relocate myself (hypothetically assuming zero-to-little assistance from the employer)?

(this is a technical curiousity so don't worry about periphery issues)
posted by pokermonk to Work & Money (12 answers total)
I don't think you could go to London and work legally without assistance from your employer. The employer would have to get the appropriate work visa for you.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:03 PM on June 3, 2007

How to apply for US passport renewal. This takes something like 6 wks+, unless you pay fees for expediting, and then you can only get the super-fastest service if you have a plane ticker showing that you are leaving within a week (or something along these lines - search around the linked pages for correct details).

Typically to get a work visa you need to show that the job you're doing fits in some qualifying category (eg "skilled work") which you have some demonstrable qualification for (eg a PhD for a university teaching job).

UK government page on foreign nationals wanting to come to the UK to work

article about getting a work visa for England
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:19 PM on June 3, 2007

To get the work visa, as Dee Xstrovert says, you'd probably need your future employers help. There are many threads on getting passport quickly, but it looks like you are in luck if you are willing to pay.
posted by cftarnas at 10:19 PM on June 3, 2007

This recent question and this one both have relevant info. A few days to a couple of weeks is possible for getting another passport. Not sure what you mean by "relocate myself," though. Are you asking about time to pack or something?
posted by mediareport at 10:21 PM on June 3, 2007

Getting a passport now will take longer than ever before. Since passports are now required to enter Canada and Mexico by air (and starting as early as January 2008, by land and sea as well), there's a pretty large backlog. I've heard it can take up to 3 months to get a non-expedited passport. If you need one in less than two weeks, you can go to the regional passport agencies.

I don't know what the requirements are for working in the UK as a non-citizen, but you should look into that, in case your employer needs to sponsor you for a working visa of some sort, since I assume you're going to be staying there for a decent stretch of time.
posted by liesbyomission at 10:44 PM on June 3, 2007

If you're a recent university student, you can take advantage of the BUNAC program to work in the UK for up to six months. It's a good way to get your feet wet. The application process took about a month when I did it in the early 90s.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:44 PM on June 3, 2007

Assuming everything was in order, a work permit application from your employer can be approved in about 8-12 weeks. They can potentially take up to 6 months.

However, work permits for non-EU citizens are extraordinarily difficult to get. BUNAC is an excellent way of getting a foot in the door.

Also, "shortage occupations" (social workers, teachers, doctors, etc.) are exempt from regular work permit regulations. If you have experience in one of those fields, you could be approved in under a month.

Check the link LobsterMitten provides above.
posted by wayward vagabond at 10:55 PM on June 3, 2007

Best answer: My erstwhile employer relocated me to London about ten years ago and the work permit process back then took about ninety days. Not sure about timings now, other threads have more relevant details, but on the relocation side this isn't something that you want to rush.

Seems like everytime I thought all the details were in order and I was ready to go something else popped up, something that had to be dealt with before I left the country.

So even with a multinational helping me every step of the way, I still ended up relocating perhaps three weeks late. It took about four months from start to finish once I'd agreed and accepted their terms.

Moving to another country is a big endeavor.
posted by Mutant at 11:28 PM on June 3, 2007

You can get a passport expedited in a week if you pay a person to get it done. We paid $200-300 for my daughter's passport before a trip and it was turned around in less than 5 days.

For the work permit, I have no idea. At our office, it's weeks if not months to get the paperwork filled out and approved through legal to request the right visa...

Good luck.
posted by Argyle at 11:33 PM on June 3, 2007

Best answer: If your employer isn't US-based with a UK office, you'll need either a work permit or a HSMP (Highly Skilled Migrant Programme) permit -- the HSMP is the better choice, as you're allowed in to work anywhere you want rather than being tied to a particular employer, and your employer doesn't have to prove that no one in the whole of the EU can do your job. I'm not sure if you can apply for HSMP at a consulate (which is more expensive but takes less time), but i would judge either route to take a few months if all goes well.

Once your'e cleared to enter, the other thing I would try to arrange beforehand is your bank account -- it's a bit of a nightmare to open one in the UK when you first arrive, as you're supposed to have a utility bill (not a lease) as proof of address and obviously you won't have one. Also, my initial deposit cheque (in USD) took 6 weeks to enter my new Sterling account. I would look into one of HSBC's offshore accounts as they let you operate in both currencies, hopefully saving you a bit of time.

The best place to ask this question is at the American Expats website - i think it's like $10 to join the forum, but it's worth it -- those people are a tremendous help for asking about every tiny detail of moving to the UK.
posted by ukdanae at 2:49 AM on June 4, 2007

You can get a passport expedited in a week if you pay a person to get it done. We paid $200-300 for my daughter's passport before a trip and it was turned around in less than 5 days.

Unless you live far from a regional passport agency, there is no reason to do this. At the agency, it takes a few hours and costs the standard government expedite fee (maybe $150 altogether). They say you have to have your ticket, but I have never been asked for mine (NYC). If you get a morning appointment, you should have your passport that day; with an afternoon appointment, I had to go back the next morning.
posted by dame at 5:58 AM on June 4, 2007

With the new regulations, passports are taking a very long time to get processed. If you are entertaining the thought you should probably get the process going ASAP.
posted by JJ86 at 8:47 AM on June 4, 2007

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