Property Developers, Property Investors

Americans Applying For A UK VISA

simon

Simon Misiewicz

4th August 2021

The frequently asked questions about Americans applying for a UK VISA

As expert tax accountants working with clients in the UK and US, we are regularly asked about advice from Americans applying for a UK VISA. We will look to answer the below questions in this Article.

“Are you paying too much tax when moving to the UK?”

“Should you speak to a British accountant before moving to the UK?”

“What are the basics of applying for a UK VISA from the USA?”

“Can Americans get UK VISAs?”

“How long can a US citizen stay in the UK?”

“What are the routes for settlement in the UK as a US citizen?”

“Do different entry regulations into the UK affect Americans?”

“Can I get a UK VISA if I intend to set up a business there?”

“What if my US employer wants to send me to the UK?”

“Does having a British spouse help get a UK VISA?”

“Can I get a UK VISA if I have British ancestry?”

“What are the tax requirements of US citizens living in the UK?”

“How does this affect our UK readers?”

Are you paying too much tax when moving to the UK?

Our property tax specialists help over 1,000 monthly retained UK landlords and property investors to minimise Tax whilst building their wealth.

There are many reasons why some Americans pay far more tax than they need to when moving to the UK.

This is because:

– They do not know what they do not know.
– They have not spoken to a tax specialist to go through their situation to see what tax reliefs are available to them.
– Their accountants or solicitors are unaware of the many reliefs available to their clients and are not taken advantage of.
– Tax legislation changes but either the person or their accountant/tax specialist have not been made aware.

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Should you speak to a British accountant before moving to the UK?

Many Americans applying for a UK VISA can find the whole process quite daunting and complex.

Some US clients ask if they should speak to a British accountant before moving to the UK.

Given the differences between UK and US law and different legislation around property investment, it is worth considering expert advice from a British accountant or tax specialist before relocating.

Some of the questions our tax and property accountants get regularly asked include:

Do I have to pay taxes in the UK and US?

What taxes do I have to pay in the UK?

Are there ways to avoid paying UK taxes as an American living here?

Can you help me to minimise tax on my property investments in the UK?

What are the best investments in the UK for an American relocating?

When do I have to start paying UK taxes after moving from the US?

If you’d like to book a tax consultation with one of our British accountants, please get in touch here.

What are the basics of applying for a UK VISA from the USA?

As property accountants serving thousands of UK and US landlords who purchase buy to let properties, we know it can be an intimidating prospect for many American clients looking to apply for a UK VISA.

According to the 2011 UK Census, 173,470 US-born residents were living in England.

The Office for National Statistics estimated that 197,000 US-born immigrants were resident in the UK in 2013.

The regulations around entry to the UK for foreign nationals, including American citizens, are governed by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

Unlike the US, the UK does not have a ‘VISA waiver programme’, and as such, anyone who enters the UK and doesn’t have the right of abode in the UK will need a VISA to stay.

The US is included as one of the UK’s ‘designated’ countries, which means that in many instances, American citizens coming to the UK in a tourist or business capacity will be able to apply for a UK VISA on arrival.

The process for Americans applying for a UK VISA involves:

– Establish which UK VISA you will need
– Complete the online UK VISA application form
– Book an appointment to provide Biometrics
– Attend a VISA interview

Different types of UK VISAs have different requirements for Americans applying for a UK VISA to consider.

These different types of UK VISA include the following:

– UK Business VISA
– UK Work VISA
– UK Visitor VISA
– UK Transit VISA
– UK Family VISA
– UK Student VISA

Americans applying for a UK VISA should apply here.

If you’re unsure how to relocate from the US to the UK and want tax advice, please book a consultation with us here.

Have a question about property investments, tax or being an expat?

There are a number of free events that will help you build investments/businesses with more comfort and move forwards with confidence.

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How long can a US citizen stay in the UK? 

Americans can visit the UK as a tourist and stay for up to six months without a VISA.

To stay longer, you’ll need to qualify for one of the UK VISAs highlighted above.

Family ties, established UK business connections, and dual citizenship with a Commonwealth country such as Canada can all help.

What are the routes for settlement in the UK as a US citizen? 

Several UK VISA categories can lead to settlement for Americans applying for a UK VISA, including:

– Unmarried Partner VISA
– Spouse VISA
– Tier 1 Entrepreneur VISA
– Tier 1 Investor VISA
– Tier 2 Work Permit
– Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer

All of the above UK VISA categories may lead towards the holder being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain.

This status means that the person does not hold the right to abode in the UK but is admitted without any time limit on their stay and free to seek and take up employment or study in the UK without any restrictions.

Do different entry regulations into the UK affect Americans? 

Different entry types are allowed under different UK VISAs, so it is important to ensure that you apply for the correct type.

UK Tourist VISAs allow Americans to enter the UK without the need for some of the formal routes of immigration.

Tourist VISAs are valid for up to six months, as long as you can prove you intend to visit for no longer than six months and that you have enough funds to support yourself in the UK without working or attempting to draw public funds.

A Business VISA enables Americans to be based abroad but do business in the UK without transferring their permanent base to the UK.

A Business VISA does not allow Americans to sell goods or services directly to public members and does not cover coming to the UK to do work placements or internships.

Gaining a Partner VISA enables an American to apply for a UK VISA to enter the UK for marriage or forming a civil partnership.

UK Work VISAs are specifically for Americans entering the UK to seek employment or take up a job offer in the UK.

Student VISAs are focused on Americans looking to take up studying commitments in the UK.

Can I get a UK VISA if I intend to set up a business there?

Some Americans may be looking to set up a business in the UK, work as freelancers, or be self-employed.

The Tier I Entrepreneur route allows Americans to be self-employed in the UK.

The conditions for this VISA include providing a detailed business plan outlining the proposed business in the UK.

They must also show that they have at least £200,000 of funds available to invest in a viable and genuine UK business that will create at least two full-time jobs for at least 12 months by the end of the person’s initial VISA.

Family members and unmarried partners, and children under 18 can also come with the individual.

This UK VISA does not allow an American to work in other businesses or to take UK employment.

What if my US employer wants to send me to the UK?

If you are employed by a US entity with a group company in the UK, it is possible to be transferred to those offices in the UK under a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer.

You must have worked for that US employer for at least 12 months in a skilled graduate-level position.

These VISAs can be obtained for an initial period of up to three years and extended for two years.

After this, it is possible to apply for permanent residence under Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Does having a British spouse help get a UK VISA?

If your partner, spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner is a British citizen, you can apply for settlement through a Spouse VISA to join them in the UK.

It needs to be proven that your partner has already started working in the UK, earning at least £18,600 per year or offered a similar level role in the UK.

Alternatively, it is acceptable for an American couple to demonstrate savings worth the equivalent of £62,500.

These applications can take between three to 12 weeks, and you will need to prove you are in a genuine relationship and that you have suitable accommodation organised in the UK.

Can I get a UK VISA if I have British ancestry? 

Americans apply for a UK VISA that are citizens of a Commonwealth country and have a UK-born grandparent can live and work in the UK.

You must intend to work in the UK and show that a job offer has been made or realistic prospects of obtaining employment in the UK.

Many US citizens have European ancestry, and in some cases, they can obtain EU passports.

What are the tax requirements of US citizens living in the UK? 

Americans living abroad do not have to face tax issues, especially if they move to the UK, which has a tax treaty with the US.

The IRS’s obligations on American ex-pats are, however, notoriously complex.

For many senior executives transferring from the US to a UK-based office, a good tax accountant will ensure that self-assessments are completed on time, and that tax is only paid to HMRC.

The tax situation can be more complicated for high-net-worth individuals and successful entrepreneurs coming to the UK from the US.

If you plan to make the UK your permanent home, becoming a British National and renouncing American citizenship may be worthwhile from a financial perspective.

America has one of the strictest tax regimes in the world, and the starting assumption is that if you are an American citizen, you pay tax to the IRS on your income, no matter where it is earned.

All American citizens living abroad must file an annual tax return by 15th April. This is automatically extended by two months to 15th June for US citizens living abroad.

The tax treaties in place between the UK and the US are designed to prevent ‘double taxation’ of Americans living abroad.

Employees paying income tax in the UK can use the foreign tax credit and the foreign earned income exclusion to avoid paying tax in the US.

How does FACTA affect US citizens living in the UK? 

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) are further pieces of US legislation that Americans living and working in the UK need to be aware of when considering tax liabilities.

FATCA requires foreign banks to report how much money American citizens hold who have bank accounts with them.

FBAR requires US citizens to file an annual report if their total bank balances exceed $10,000.

American property investors who sell a property in Britain, which is their main home, will be expected to pay Capital Gains Tax in the US, even though it is not payable in the UK.

The IRS treats tax-free UK benefits such as ISAs and Pensions as Foreign Trusts and taxed accordingly.

The full impact of your tax obligations to the IRS if you are an American living in the UK depends on the following factors:

– The amount of property you own
– If you are self-employed or not
– The amount of money in your bank account

If you’re unsure of your tax position as an American living in the UK, book a consultation with one of our expert British tax specialists today.

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