So, when I told my husband last night what I blogged about yesterday regarding getting (and keeping) a visa for a UK relocation, his response was, “Geez! Don’t ruin London Relocation’s business by discouraging people to move here!” Yikes! SO not my intention, people, so I genuinely hope it isn’t coming across that way. 🙂 What I do intend, though, is to just talk straight with you so that you aren’t thrown any curve-balls that could make your UK relocation any less feasible or pleasant than it ought to be. So that being said, today I’ll continue my straight-talk for you spouses and partners of professionals moving to London for work on a Tier 2 visa.
If you’re the spouse or partner of a Tier 2 visa holder, the good news is that you’ll also automatically have a visa and right to work in the UK by virtue of your dependent status. When my husband and I made our UK relocation in 2008 (yes, I moved here for his job and therefore fall into this spousal visa bucket), our visas were issued for a five-year term. These days, however, it seems the norm is three before you can then apply for indefinite leave to remain.
And now for the bad news…Well, feeling out how your employment back home might translate over here isn’t the easiest of tasks—many spouses will attest that making a lateral career move is an especial challenge, and sometimes you have to take steps back in your profession (or try something else entirely) when it comes down to basically taking what you can get. This can make for an exciting new opportunity or royally frustrating setback depending on your perspective.
If you want to find a full-time (i.e., permanent vs. contract) position in the UK, you’ll have to hit the ground running. I know I, for one, wanted to reserve the first couple months following my UK relocation for getting settled in and adjusted. You definitely need that time. But then the job search will require more, and you don’t want to wait too long because once your visa has less than two years left until expiration, UK employment law renders you ineligible for permanent employment. For example, I still have an entire year and a half left on my Tier 2 spousal visa—an arguably longer term than a local might stay in a permanent job—but even after living and working in the UK for going-on four years, I couldn’t apply for anything but temporary, contract-basis work at this point. That’s pretty jarring. So, for your own planning purposes, if you want to find a permanent work role after your UK relocation, initiate your search well in advance of two years prior to visa expiration and hold on to the job you get—unless, perhaps, you find a company to sponsor you in your own right and apply for a new visa based on that.
If, on the other hand, you don’t want/have to work here, then good on you!
Again, the challenge of finding a London job after a UK relocation relates to what I spoke of yesterday: the tendency for locals to win jobs over expats because it’s sometimes a path of least resistance for employers. This isn’t to say, though, that the UK doesn’t recognize foreign talent; companies very much do and welcome it, so you just have to keep morale high and never give up asserting your qualifications to help contribute to this fine society. It’s not you; it’s just a tough market in the current global climate, and everyone is scrambling for their piece of the pie. Like I said before, your perspective dictates your experience. None of us move here just to replicate exactly what we had at home; it’s for taking on new experiences. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, as they say, and I can sure tell you that the road bumps we expats (and accompanying spouses at that) can hit are incredibly character-defining. So don’t lose heart. Just embrace your UK relocation for what it is and has yet to become!