US Citizen Looking to Obtain UK Visa

Jun 8th, 2015, 07:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2015
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US Citizen Looking to Obtain UK Visa

Hello – I am looking to relocate to the UK from the US with my boyfriend. I am a US citizen living in Philadelphia in the US, while he is a UK citizen, living in Glasgow, Scotland. We met 2 years ago in a bar in Glasgow when I was touring Scotland and Ireland. Since then we make sure to visit each other back and forth between countries every 2 – 3 months, while staying in daily contact via email, messaging & Skype. We plan to live in Glasgow for a year, then move permanently back to the US.

We were advised that we should apply for the unmarried partner visa, but were hoping to get some advice from anyone who is kind enough to offer up any guidance on this process. We have tons of questions, like do I still have to pay US taxes when living in the UK, is hiring an immigration lawyer wise, How will my money transfer without getting foreign transfer fees, how does credit history transfer (I have maintained a great credit score), what do I have to do to keep my US citizenship, what restrictions would I have with my visa, could I be able to travel freely from the UK to US & other countries, and could I at some point apply for dual citizenship?

Thank you to any and all who can help steer us in the right direction!
UStoUK2015 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2015, 07:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,700
The only question you have that I know 100% the answer to is that as long as you are a U.S. citizen, you most certainly do have to pay U.S. income taxes on all income. People who were born in the U.S. and lived the entire rest of their lives in their home country still have to pay U.S. income taxes. If you think it will be easy to skip a year or two and no one will ever know, wrong, completely wrong.
cynthia_booker is offline  
Jun 8th, 2015, 09:21 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,404
You still have to FILE a US tax return. Whether you have to PAY taxes to the US is more complicated, and depends on things like your income, how it is earned, and how much you pay in UK taxes. Handling finances has become much more complicated for US citizens living abroad with the passage and implementation of legislation like FATCA.

You will not lose your US citizenship by living in the UK, or even if you eventually become a UK citizen.

Can't help with your other questions, but you may find you are unable to work in the UK - that was the situation with my nephew's then girlfriend now wife.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 8th, 2015, 10:31 PM
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 93
I thought US citizens could stay 6 months in the UK.
It may seem impossible to wait the other 6 months.
But in the grand scheme of things
I would not risk my credit score or my future travels over 6 months.

On the other hand I know the power of love and days can feel like weeks.
But if you're in it for the long haul just remember absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Your plan sounds wonderful.I hope someone here knows how you can make it happen with no ill effects.
SaylerT is offline  
Jun 8th, 2015, 10:46 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,168
When my daughter married a Scottish national, there were quite a lot of hoops to jump through, partly because there is a thriving business in UK nationals marrying citizens of other countries so they can get residence permits. I am going to guess that your will be similar, though they may be tighter than they used to be.

Notably, you are going to have to prove that you and your partner will be fully self- supporting. You will be ineligible for public assistance for quite a long time.

You should make an appointment at the nearest British consulate, and they can tell you if you do need a UK immigration lawyer. You do need to talk to the American Embassy in London, especially if you think of UK citizenship. Domestic partnership there is much commoner than here, and if you don't do all this correctly, you could have trouble if you decide to move to the US.

Leave your money in your hometown bank and withdraw it from an ATM as you need it until you are well settled. Filing your US income tax return with money in a UK bank is a pain in the butt. We did it for many years.
Ackislander is offline  
Jun 8th, 2015, 10:50 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
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I have a friend who met a guy in Leeds and eventually married him. Seems to be working out ok for her.

do I still have to pay US taxes when living in the UK

One of the "perks" of being a US citizen is that as long as you are a US citizen, you are required to file taxes every year. Whether you have to pay or not depends on whether or not your resident country has a tax treaty with the U.S. and what their tax ends up being. Best to use an accountant that knows UK ans US tax law.

How will my money transfer without getting foreign transfer fees,

It won't. The most cost effective way I have found (besides trading in currency in the market) is to use my US Credit Union ATM card to withdraw money in the local currency. I get charged $1 for using a non-CU ATM and 1% over the current rate published on I think that's pretty good.

how does credit history transfer (I have maintained a great credit score)

It doesn't. The best you can hope for is to get your bank to write a letter to your bank in the UK and even then, YMMV. Be prepared to start anew.

what do I have to do to keep my US citizenship,

Nothing. You are stuck with it until you pay the $2,350 fee to renounce your citizenship.

and could I at some point apply for dual citizenship?

The US frowns upon dual citizenship but many people do it anyway. More here:
sparkchaser is offline  
Jun 8th, 2015, 11:10 PM
Join Date: May 2014
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what restrictions would I have with my visa, could I be able to travel freely from the UK to US & other countries, and could I at some point apply for dual citizenship?

Few, if any restrictions on the visa
You would be able to travel elsewhere in the world as a US citizen
You don't apply for dual citizenship, you apply for citizenship of the new country - which would several years of residence.

As for spousal visas in general
Does your partner earn over £20,000 pa. If not then that's an instant refusal.
Do you have oodles of evidence of your two year relationship (Think the movie Green Card)
dotheboyshall is offline  
Jun 9th, 2015, 01:50 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 17,391
Probably also need to start researching how to get your boyfriend into the US with the same bunch of questions
bilboburgler is offline  
Jun 9th, 2015, 01:50 AM
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First, to be eligible for unmarried partner visa, you must have lived together (cohabited) for at least 2 years continually. Visiting each other (using tourist stay) and travelling together don't count as living.
So your only option is spouse or fiancée visa. For spouse visa you need to be married first, and for fiancée visa, you need to have firm plan to get married within 6 months of arrival and apply for leave to remain as spouse. For either visa (called settlement visa as it may eventually lead to settlement or permanent residence), your boyfriend needs to meet the financial requirement, earning at least £18,600 a year in a job or jobs for at least 6 months. You also need to meet accommodation requirement.

If marriage isn't part of your plans, then you need to obtain a visa in your own right, such as study (Tier 4 General) for a degree or sponsored work (e.g. Tier 2 General), which is usually tough as preference for jobs goes to EEA citizens others already on a visa that allows them to work, or your existing employer can transfer you to UK (Tier 2 intra-company transfer)or if you have special skills and experience that qualify you for a shortage occupation.
Alec is offline  
Jun 9th, 2015, 02:10 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
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Hi. I am a US spouse of a UK citizen. We live in the UK together. I have been through this process over the last few years.
You've already got lots of advice here, some good, some not quite accurate.

Rather than a travel board, I would suggest asking your questions on an expat forum. There is an excellent forum on a site called UK Yankee; look for the visas and citizenship section.

Long story short, the UK is very anti-immigration right now. You will not qualify for an unmarried partner visa, because you need to show that you have been living together, paying bills, maintaining a life together, for atleast two years.

The easiest routes for you will be fiance or spouse visas.

The fiance visa allows you to come to the UK, in which you will have 6 months to marry and apply for your spouse visa from inside the UK. You will NOT be allowed to work, not even volunteer, until you're married.
The spouse visa will allow you to enter the UK as a spouse, and you can work right away. You, of course, need to be married before you can apply for this.

There are very specific financial requirements that must be met to qualify for these visas. If you are willing to take it to the next step and get engaged, your fiancé needs to show that he earns atleast £18,600 annually to sponsor you. Your finances do not count towards qualifying for the visa.

If you decide to go this route, it isn't something you need to spend extra money for by hiring an immigration lawyer. It's what they call a tick-box visa, if you can tick the boxes, you'll get it.

Your US credit history means nothing here. Neither does your perfect driving record when you need car insurance. Be prepared to start over.

These visas are getting more and more expensive every year. Currently, if you are on a spouse visa, after 5 years, you can apply for what's known as ILR (permanent residency.) That leads to citizenship. Dual citizenship with the US is no big deal. But you have to maintain your life together in the UK for the 5 years to qualify for ILR, and once you have ILR, if you leave the UK for longer than 2 years, you will lose it.

What I am getting at is that this is a big move, an expensive move, and your plan to be here for a year and then return to the US doesn't make a lot of sense financially.
Either come to Scotland and commit to staying several years and work towards citizenship, if that's your end goal, or have him move to the US.
Sadly, either of these moves will not be easy while you remain in a boy/girlfriend relationship.

I hope that helps. I don't want to rain on your parade, but that's the reality. Again, expat forums, where the posters are people who have gone through (or are in the process of going through) this are much better equipped to answer your questions. Good luck!
txgirlinbda is offline  
Jun 9th, 2015, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
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Cross-posted with Alec!
txgirlinbda is offline  
Jun 9th, 2015, 03:24 AM
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I can't add much to the excellent advice in the last two posts except to emphasize that you must start the application with the British consulate nearest your place of residence then follow their directions to the letter. For example, while applying for a fiance visa, you may not be able to visit the UK, even as a tourist, while the application is in process.

The UK and US have a tax treaty, in theory you won't be double taxed. In our experience (US citizens living in France where a treaty also exists) it is more or less a wash. If your income is complicated and significant, that may be when you want to consult an international tax expert or attorney.

Do not close any US bank accounts, it is becoming more difficult for US citizens living abroad to open new accounts ( not impossible). Again, in our experience, your US credit score will not be impacted by a move but it will most likely not be taken into account when establishing credit in the UK.

My husband holds UK and US passports. When he applied for US citizenship about 9 years ago, he did not have to surrender his UK passport, the reverse applies as well. He was advised to use his US passport every time upon entering the US.

Money transfer--for a very large amount, shop around for the best rate, it may end up being your own bank.

Good luck, hope it all works out, it should.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Jun 9th, 2015, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 1,322
As for moving to the US: DD and her British fiance looked at the fiance visa, but it doesn't come with a green card. A marriage visa, OTOH, will include a green card at the time of approval.

They got married in Jan, filed the paperwork in Feb, and he continued working in the UK until the application was approved August. There are MANY hoops to follow in the application, as well as a cost of $2-3000. We learned later that their application was approved faster than most, probably because of their incomes, education, and proof of a legitimate marriage. (They included photos of the wedding and photos of the two families together, showing that it was a "real" wedding.)

This was six years ago and the fact that he had just returned from serving in Afghanistan with the RAF may have made them a little more welcoming, also.
happytourist is offline  
Jun 10th, 2015, 07:35 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2015
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Thank you all - this is wonderful advice, couldn't thank you enough!
UStoUK2015 is offline  
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