NewsMoving to USDec 13, 2023

Everything You Need to Know About Moving from UK to the US

Each year, around 20,000 Brits are moving to USA from UK in pursuit of new opportunities or to escape the rising costs of living in Britain. And ever since the UK left the EU in 2020, that number has steadily grown.

Unfortunately, relocating to the US is long and exhausting, regardless of where you’re from. However, British citizens have several advantages over the rest of the world:

  • British people have a 95% visa application success rate;
  • There is no language barrier between the UK and the US, which makes adjusting to life in America much easier for British immigrants;
  • London has excellent airline connections with most large US cities (e.g., Chicago, New York, LA, Orlando).

In this article, we will teach you everything you need to know about moving to USA from UK to make the process as quick and smooth as possible.

But before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s first see how you can ensure it’s even worth relocating in the first place…

Is It Worth Moving to USA from UK?

If you’re considering moving from the UK to America, you likely have a good reason. However, you should always look at the bigger picture before deciding.

But what do we mean by that? 

Well, we can’t talk about your personal reasons for wanting to relocate, but we can look at some objective aspects of living in those two countries.

Below is a table comparing some data on essential costs and opportunities between the US and the UK.

(All Values Shown in USD) USA UK
Average Salary $59,000 / year $44,000 / year
Average Real Estate Price $430,000 $363,000
Average Rent $1,370 / month $1,210 / month
Average Tax Rate 24,8% 23,6%
Cost of Living in The US $2500–$3500 / month $2,700–$3,200

Note: The numbers presented are countrywide averages and will likely differ between states/municipalities.

As you can see, the average salary of US workers is substantially higher than in the UK. And that is particularly true for large metropolitan areas like New York, LA, San Francisco, and Chicago. In these cities, average salaries in some industries can go over $100,000/year.

However, average home prices in America are higher than in the UK, particularly in more developed states like California, New York, Washington, and Florida. So, if you are a UK citizen buying a house in US from the get-go, you will need a higher initial investment than in the UK (in most cases). The catch is, though, that the US is much bigger than the UK, meaning the differences in property prices between states can vary greatly. For instance, you can even buy a house for under $300,000 in some less popular places in America!

But if you want to move to the US as a tenant, the average rent prices in these two countries are roughly the same. If you’re coming from London, though, rent can go as high as $1,800/month there. That means there will be plenty of places in America where you can settle down for less.

Nevertheless, you should do additional research on the housing and job markets of the states you’d like to move to before pulling the trigger. 

american and canadian flag

What States Have the Most British Immigrants?

Although the cultural gap between Americans and Brits is minimal, you may feel more comfortable moving to a State with a rich British community. The US States most popular with British immigrants are the following:

  • California (over 100,000 British immigrants);
  • Florida (over 38,000 British immigrants);
  • New York (over 37,000 British immigrants)
  • Texas (over 30,000 British immigrants)
  • Massachusetts (over 29,000 British immigrants)

Moving to one of these states will make adjusting to a new environment and lifestyle much easier, as you’ll have plenty of fellow countrymen to help you get accommodated. The process will be that much easier if you move to one of the following cities:

  • Los Angeles (CA)
  • New York City (NY)
  • Miami (FL)
  • Boston (MA)
  • Chicago (IL)

These cities have the largest British communities in America, so you’ll feel at home in no time. However, these cities and states have different living costs, property prices, and job opportunities. So make sure to consider that when choosing where you’ll relocate.

How to Move to America From the UK in 5 Steps

The process of moving to USA from UK is a long and complex one, so the sooner you get the ball rolling, the better. Here is everything you’ll need to do to relocate without a hitch:

1. Collect the Necessary Documentation

British citizens have it easy regarding the documents needed to relocate, and even they will require quite a few. Here are some of the most essential papers you’ll need to secure to move to the US:

  • A valid passport;
  • Proof of financial means (e.g., bank statements, sponsorship letter);
  • Provide a valid reason for immigration (e.g., job offer letter, acceptance letter from a US university or other educational institution);
  • Filled out visa application form;
  • A passport-sized photograph that follows the visa application requirements;
  • Proof of covering all the mandatory visa processing fees;
  • Apply for an ESTA (you can do this online) a few days before departure when entering the US by air or sea;

Besides the above, you may also need to do the following:

  • Pass a criminal records check;
  • Submit a medical examination report (if required);
  • Provide proof of vaccination (as of the COVID pandemic);

Once you ensure you have all the documents ready, the next step is to apply for and secure an appropriate visa.

secure the visa before moving to usa from uk

2. Secure the Right Immigration Visa

Getting a US visa is likely the hardest part of moving to USA from UK. However, British citizens will have an easier time securing one due to their historical relations with America. 

If you want to enter the US as a British citizen, you will have several types of visas to choose from:

  • Tourist Visas (not required for UK citizens)
  • Student Visas
  • Work Visas
  • Investor Visas
  • Family-Based Immigrant Visas

Each visa has different prerequisites and benefits, so choosing the most appropriate one for your needs is essential. For instance, some visas from these categories are immigrant visas, while others aren’t. 

Having an immigrant visa will allow you to relocate to the US permanently, while non-immigrant visas must be renewed upon expiry

With that in mind, here’s a detailed overview of the different types of visas available to British citizens looking to move to America:

Student Visas

Student Visas Description
F-1 Visa F-1 Visa or Student Visa is given to international students entering the US to pursue academic studies.
M-1 Visa M-1 Visa or Vocational Studies Visa is awarded to foreigners entering the US to pursue non-academic studies (e.g., language studies, technical schools).
J-1 Visa J-1 Visa or Exchange Visitor Visa is awarded to international students entering the US as part of a student exchange program (e.g., work & travel).
O-1 Visa O-1 Visa or Extraordinary Abilities Visa is handed out to individuals with extraordinary academic achievements across various disciplines (e.g., sciences, business, athletics).

Student visas aren’t particularly challenging to get, but they are all temporary and cannot lead to citizenship by themselves. Still, entering the US with a student visa is a decent choice as long as you continue pursuing other opportunities that would allow for a permanent relocation once you arrive (e.g., employment within the US). It is also good to know that F1 students can buy a house in the USA.

Work Visas

Work Visas Description
H-1B Visa  H-1B Visa or a Temporary Work Visa is awarded to foreigners entering the US to work for an American employer. Although this visa is temporary, you can renew it every several years with the help of your employer.
EB-1 Visa  EB-1 Visa is a permanent visa given to foreign nationals with extraordinary abilities in one of several fields, such as academia or business. 
EB-2 Visa EB-2 Visa is awarded to foreigners with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities across various fields, allowing them to live and work in the US.
EB-3 Visa  EB-3 Visa is awarded to foreigners with a job offer from a US employer in a field that requires a high level of specialization.

Work visas are the best and most reliable visas UK nationals can get if they want to move to the USA. However, all of these visas require sponsorship from a US employer, so you’ll first need to find a job in America before being able to apply for one.

Depending on the type of work visa you get, some may be temporary and require you to renew them every few years. Still, a work visa is the easiest way to get your foot through the door and start your life in the US. That is particularly true for UK citizens since they historically have a 97% work visa acceptance rate.

Investor Visas

Investor Visas Description
E-1 Visa  E-1 Visa or Treaty Trader Visa is given to foreigners and entrepreneurs with long-lasting trading relations between their countries and the US.
E-2 Visa E-2 Visa or Treaty Investor Visa is awarded to nonresidents who plan to invest substantial capital into a US business.
EB-5 Visa EB-5 Visa, or Immigrant Investor Visa, is a permanent visa given only to the largest nonresident investors. Only foreigners who invest over $1 million in a US business and create at least ten jobs can apply for it.

Investor visas are likely the best US visas a foreign national can get. However, they are only available to nonresidents investing large amounts of capital in the US market. If you are one of them, though, you won’t have a hard time securing one of these visas and relocating to the US.

Family-Based Immigrant Visas

Family-Based Visas Description
CR-1 Visa CR-1 Visa or Conditional Resident Visa is a temporary visa given to foreigners married to a US citizen during their first two years of marriage.
IR-1 Visa IR-1 or Visa or Immediate Relative Visa is a permanent visa awarded to foreigners married to a US citizen after their first two years of marriage.
K-1 Visa K-1 Visa or Fiance Visa is given to foreigners engaged with a US citizen and is valid only for 90 days. During this time, the couple must get married and apply for a CR-1 Visa.
K-3 Visa K-3 Visa or Spouse Visa is given out to nonresident spouses of US citizens who are waiting for the approval of their I-130 immigration petition.

These visas are only available to UK citizens looking to marry a US citizen, so they won’t be an option for everyone. But if these are your reasons for wanting to move to the States, securing one of them should be straightforward.

How to Apply for a US Visa

With most visas, you must fill in one of two application forms and take them to the nearest US embassy or consulate.

  • Form DS-160 — A standard form used to apply for a nonimmigrant visa electronically. This form contains all the necessary personal and biographical information about the applicant. 
  • Form DS-260 — A form submitted for certain employment- and family-based immigrant visa categories. This form will also include additional information about the applicant, 

such as their medical and criminal history.

After submitting these forms, you will need to wait a while (sometimes even months) for your visa application to get processed. That’s why starting the procedure as early as possible is best, especially if you’re in a hurry.

a family from UK is preparing for the move to the US

3. Prepare for the Move

If you managed to secure a visa, you’ve done the hard part. Now, all that’s left is to take care of a few finishing touches and prepare for the move.

Here’s a brief checklist of the things you should take care of before relocating:

  • Find a Moving Company to Handle Your Relocation — The moving process will be much less stressful if you hire professionals. Finding a reliable moving agency can save you a lot of stress.
  • Apply for a US Social Security Number — A social security number is a unique ID all US citizens need to have. If you have the opportunity, it’s best to take it out as soon as possible, as it will make your life in America much easier. But if you aren’t eligible for an SSN, you can always apply for an ITIN and use it instead. 
  • Open a US Bank Account — As soon as you arrive in the US, you should open a private US bank account. You’ll need one every day, especially when you get a job from an American employer.
  • Take Out a Credit Card to Start Building Credit Score — Credit score plays an essential part in the everyday lives of US citizens. The higher your credit score, the more financial opportunities you’ll have in America. That’s why it’s best to take out a credit card as soon as possible and start building your credit score early.
  • Explore US Health Insurance Opportunities — The US healthcare system is mainly privatized and is significantly different from the UK. It’s wise to look into health insurance opportunities before you arrive to avoid coming across any unexpected expenses early upon moving.
  • Familiarize Yourself With US Tax Laws — Unlike in most parts of the world, US residents need to calculate and file their taxes on their own. So before you relocate permanently, familiarize yourself with US tax laws and ensure you filed them on time to avoid penalties.

4. Cover the Costs of Moving to USA from UK

The last and most important thing about moving overseas is to cover all the necessary costs. Here are just some of the things you’ll need to cover:

  • Visa processing fees (usually $100–$1000);
  • Airline (or freighter) tickets;
  • Property or rent costs (varies between states);
  • Cross-continental moving expenses (depends on the number of things you’re moving).

So How Much Will Moving from the UK to the USA Cost?

As you can see, there is much variance in how much your relocation to the US may cost. However, if we had to give a rough estimate, you can expect to pay anywhere between $3,000 and $8,000 to cover all your moving and processing expenses.

This sum, however, does not consider the costs of accommodation (whether you decide to buy a property yourself or rent one). These costs will likely be the highest and will differ significantly from state to state — so don’t forget to take them into account.

Need Help Finding a Perfect Home After Moving to USA from UK?

If you’re ready to take that final step and move from the UK to the US, you have one last thing to take care of — finding a place to live. The first option that comes to most people’s minds is probably to rent a home as a tenant. However, that’s far from ideal.

But what most non-US nationals don’t know is that even foreigners can buy real estate in America. And the best part is that you can get a US mortgage loan as a nonresident, even without credit score!

Unfortunately, navigating the American real estate market is difficult, especially for foreigners unfamiliar with local laws and regulations. That’s why here at NRI, we help nonresidents and US newcomers like you find and buy the perfect home for your family in the US. We work with seasoned real estate agents across all 50 states and help nonresidents find and secure only the best deals.

Our CEO, Luka Malkovich, is a nonresident investor who’s built a successful real estate business throughout the USA. If you need help getting a mortgage loan or finding the right property before you relocate, Luka would love to help you. Why not jump on a free, 15-minute discovery call with him and tell him what kind of home you’re looking for?

Founder & CEO
Luka Malkovich is a serial entrepreneur with years of experience in international real estate investing. As the CEO of Nonresident Investor, Luka’s mission is to educate foreign nationals about the US real estate market and help them secure funding and buy property in America. That’s why he’s using his expertise to turn the NRI blog into a knowledge hub for anyone interested in learning about US real estate. This article was written by a professional content writer in conjunction with Luka Malkovich. Luka has thoroughly reviewed this article and has given his final approval before publishing.

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