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All You Need-to-Know About Visas

Martha Lott

Written by

4th Oct 2017 (Last updated on 20th Mar 2024) 13 minute read

All moves take planning, but none as much as if you are moving internationally. Long before you start looking for international removal quotes, you’ll need to plan and think about any visa requirements for long-term stay in your country of choice.

If you're trying to decide which visa you need, the options for British people holidaying abroad are endless, and many holiday visa are straight-forward. But it seems it gets more complex when you’re looking to stay long-term. So here at Compare My Move, we’ve done the research for you and looked at visa requirements for your top international moving destinations.

Whether you’re planning to study, work or live abroad, it’s likely you’ll need a visa. And we’ve got you covered with the basics.

  1. Australia - Visas and Citizenship
  2. New Zealand - Visas and Citizenship
  3. USA - Visas and Citizenship
  4. Canada - Visas and Citizenship
  5. Europe - Visas, Work Permits, and Residency
  6. Comparing Your International Move

Choosing The Right Australian Visa

Every year, thousands of British tourists visit Australia, a prime location for travelling abroad. One of the most popular visas in Australia is the Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417), an option for travellers between 18 and 31 years-old to holiday and work in Australia for up to a year.

But what are your options if you want to live and work in Australia for the long-term? Australia is an extremely popular place to emigrate, with a pleasant climate all year round and a healthy job market. Let’s look at some of the main visa options for those wanting to work, learn and live in Australia.

Learning in Australia

Student Visa (subclass 500) You’ll need to apply for this visa if you intend on studying in Australia. Remember to declare family-members on visa application so that they have the option of joining you at a later date.

Training visa (subclass 407) – Those taking part in a work-place or vocational training.

Working in Australia

Sponsored visas:

Temporary work (skilled) visa (subclass 437) – This visa requires sponsorship by an Australian employer, and has a duration of up to four years. This will be for a skilled role, so you need to prove you have the correct skills for the occupation to be eligible.

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa (Subclass 186) – A permanent visa, it requires sponsorship by Australian employer. You can use the online tool SkillSelect to find prospective employers or territory governments to nominate you.

Points tested skilled migration:

Independent Visa (subclass 189): Permanent visa, for skilled workers not sponsored by family members or an Australian company. This is for people with desired qualities by Australia Government, will be graded and your skills assessed.

Skilled Nominated Visa (Subclass 190): Permanent visa available for a person who has qualities desired by Australia (generally a skill shortage) and has been nominated by a state or territory.

Regional Sponsored Visa (Subclass 489): For skilled persons looking to live and work in a low population growth area of Australia. This requires sponsorship by a family member with permanent residential status, is valid for 4 years, half of which you must spend in a nominated territory.

Australian Citizenship

If you're moving to Australia from the UK, you will need to be of good character, with permanent residence, and demonstrate at least four years of permanent residence prior to your citizenship application.

Applying for an Australian Visa is fairly straightforward, you can apply for many Visas online, but for most long-term visa options biometrics are required.

Choosing the right Visa for New Zealand

Did you know, British citizens don’t need a visa to holiday in for up to 6 months New Zealand? But for those looking to move to New Zealand from the UK permanently, there is a range of options available. Many of these options hinge on skill shortages for certain occupations, and if you meet the criteria you could find your application streamlined.

For British Citizens, there is the popular option of a Working Holiday Visa of up to 23 months to work or study in New Zealand if you’re aged between 18 and 30. But read below for the basics of the many other options available to you for living and working in New Zealand long-term.

Working Visas in New Zealand

Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa – There are certain occupations and skills which have been highlighted on a list as being in short supply. If you have the necessary qualifications and experience to work in an occupation listed on the New Zealand Long Term Skill Shortage List, you’ll have a chance of getting this temporary visa to work and live there. Following this, and after 2 years of work, you can apply to live there permanently through the subsequent resident visa.

Talent Work Visa - If you have a job offer from accredited New Zealand employer, this visa is for you. With it, you can work for two years then apply to live in New Zealand permanently. Job offer must be full time, and pay more than NZ$55,000 a year. Can lead to subsequent resident visa.

Essential Skills Work Visa – If you have a full-time job offer in a role that no other New Zealand resident is available to do, you can apply for this visa. It will allow you to stay for up to 5 years depending on the skill level of your job.

Resident Visas in New Zealand

Long Term Skill Shortage List Resident Visa – If you’ve got a Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa and have worked in New Zealand for more than 2 years you can apply. You must be paid a minimum of NZ$45,000, but this is a permanent visa. You can include your partner and dependent children aged 24-and-under on this visa.

Talent Resident Visa – If you Hold a Talent Work Visa, and have worked for an accredited employer for more than 2 years, you can apply for permanent residency.

Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa – This is a points-based system for skilled workers, and a permanent visa. You make an Expression of Interest to apply for residence, likely in an area which has a skills shortage, and depending on experience, qualifications or occupation may be offered permanent residency. This option can include a partner and children below 24 years old as part of the application.

(Long Term) Business Residence: For business owners and investors who could contribute to New Zealand's economic growth. This visa can be for permanent or temporary entry.

New Zealand Citizenship

After living as a resident in New Zealand for at least 5 years, you are eligible to apply for New Zealand citizenship. Much like Australia, you’ll need to prove to be a 'good character' amongst other criteria.

Choosing The Right American Visa

The USA is a very popular choice for British people travelling and emigrating abroad. With so much to do and see, and the largest economy in the world, it’s not a surprise many choose to move to the USA from the UK.

But, your journey to get to the land of the free might be a difficult one, with one of the most complex visa systems in the world. When it boils down to it, for long-term visas you generally need a high-level job offer or have an American relative.

To live and work permanently in the United States, a Permanent Resident Card, more commonly known as a ‘Green Card’ is needed. Usually, you will need to be sponsored by someone, whether it be an employer or American family member.

So let’s have a look at the basics of the different types of visa for the USA.

Studying in the USA

F-1 Visa – Full time students at an academic institution.

M-1 Visa – full time students at a vocational institution.

USA Temporary Work Visas

H1B Visa: A highly-sought after visa (oversubscribed each year by around three times), this is for graduate-level workers in specialty jobs such as scientists or engineers for up to 6 years.

H2B Visa: For US employers looking to recruit non-US workers to fill a gap in temporary non-agricultural jobs. The employer must submit an application on a workers behalf, and its duration tends to be up to one year.

L1 Visa: For managers, executives or those with specialised knowledge to be transferred for up to 7 years to a US office. Usually work for an affiliate or subsidiary of the US company outside of the US.

L2 Visa – Spouse or children of those with an L1 Visa can stay for same period. L2 Visas do entitle the holder to work or study with the right extra paperwork (Application for Employment Authorisation).

E1 Treaty Trader Visa – Businessmen and employees of UK companies which provide employment in the US. The US must also make up the majority of the trader’s international trade. Must demonstrate there will be a large amount of trade between the US and the country. Looks at proposed business venture.

USA Employment-based Immigration visas, or Green Cards



Business executives, professors, and internationally recognised academics and researchers

Must fit a criteria of excellence, such as international prizes or publications. Professors and academics need offers of employment from higher education centre.


Specialised professions: doctors, teachers and managers

A Masters Degree or higher, and an offer of employment. Offer of employment can be wavered if you can provide evidence of promoting the national interest.


Skilled workers with at least 2 years experience in their field

Bachelors Degree at least, with a job offer in the US. US employer must show a certificate that no US worker could have been found.


Other employment (Religious workers or army)

Differs, from religious workers such as ministers to foreign nationals who have served in the US armed forces for at least 12 years


International investors

Must be investing in new commercial enterprise. Migrants to invest a minimum of $500,000 or $1,000,000 in a US company. Must create a minimum of 10 full-time jobs in the US within a conditional two years.

American Citizenship

If you have no American family members, and were not born in the USA, you’ll have to gain American Citizenship through ‘Naturalization’. You’ll have to have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years, and meet other requirements, including a citizenship test.

Choosing The Right Canadian Visa

Like many locations on this list, visas are generally not need for short term visits and holidays to Canada. But when it comes to staying long-term to live and work, there a range of visa options available for citizens of the UK.

Let’s explore the avenues for those looking to move to Canada from the UK permanently. Keep in mind that the newer option of Express Entry option might mean for a quicker application.

The scheme looks for specific, high-skilled migrants on a points system. Different territories also have different criteria for entry, so it’s worth getting the research in.

Visas in Canada

Express Entry – For skilled migrants applying for permanent residency, this will be the quickest option if applicants are successful. Applicants are put into a pool of profiles, and the highest-ranking candidates are invited to apply for permanent residence. The whole process might take less than 6 months, and candidates are scored on education, language, work experience and skills. Applications are filled in online.

Federal Skilled Trades: A new visa with a pass/fail system rather than the traditional points based criteria. For skilled tradespeople.

Canadian Experience Class: For those with a year's worth of skilled work experience in Canada who are looking to make the transition to permanent residence.

Provincial Nominee Programmes: For those nominated for permanent residency by a specific province or territory for their desired skills. This is fast-tracked, and each province will have its own requirements that need to be met.

Business Visas: For investors, start-ups and self-employed workers looking to make Canada their permanent home.

Family Class Visas: For Canadians to sponsor their foreign spouse, common-law partner and conjugal partner to emigrate to Canada.

Quebec-selected skilled workers – Special agreement with the Government of Canada on immigration, own rules to apply.

Becoming a Canadian citizen

To apply for Canadian citizenship, you’ll need to have Permanent Resident status, and must have been in Canada for at least 1,460 days over the previous 6 years with that status.

Visas, Work Permits and Residency in Europe

Currently, you do not need a work permit to live and work in the European Economic Area (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland as a UK Citizen. Of course, this might change after the UK’s exit from the European Union. But until more details emerge, nothing will change whilst the UK is still a part of the EU.

This said, there are still things to consider if you plan on becoming a resident of European countries long-term. Remember to register for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which will cover you for emergency medical treatment whilst you’re registering for residency in your new home.

So let’s check out the top European countries for UK movers, and what extra details you might need to keep in mind ahead of moving day.

Living in Spain

The process of moving to Spain after Brexit differs from when the UK was still a part of the EU. If you are planning on living in Spain for longer than three months, (which is you if you’re emigrating!), you need to register in person at the Oficina De Extranjeros (Foreign Office) in your area of residence as well as secure a suitable visa to Spain. You’ll be issued with a Residence Certificate the size of a credit card, and after 5 years you can apply for a certificate for permanent residence in Spain.

You may have to prove you have sufficient money to support yourself, and if you’re planning to work you will need to provide a certificate of employment from your employee.

Living in Italy

If you’re planning on moving to Italy, when you first arrive remember to declare your presence for the first three months by visiting the closest police station to your new home. If you’re moving to Italy from the UK for more than three months, you’ll have to apply for residency at the closest town hall to your new home. This is essential to access free healthcare services in Italy.

Like many other EU countries, after five years you can apply for permanent residency. After being a resident for four years, you can then apply for Italian citizenship.

Living in Germany

If you’re emigrating to Germany, you’ll need to register in the first few weeks you’re there. When you arrive in Germany, register at the closest Einwohnermeldeamt (Registration Office) to your new home within 14 days if you plan on staying for more than three months.

Check with your local registration office in advance, as different documents might be needed in different area, and fees can apply. Generally you’ll need proof of address and your British Passport.

Living in France

Rules have changed on residency in France due to the UK leaving the EU. If you're moving to France, you can still apply for a card, which has a duration of 5 years. After 5 years of residency, you gain the right of permanent residence, and can apply for a permanent residence card. This card in renewable every 10 years.

The residence cards are optional, but make administrative tasks easier as you can use it to prove your right to live in France whenever needed. Contact your local Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie to find out what you need to register for the French healthcare system.

Comparing Your International Move

We hope this guide to visas has made your international move slightly less daunting. By covering the basics, we want to help kick-start your research into living abroad. Contact the embassy for your country of choice for more detailed information, and remember to check out our other international guides.

Whether you're looking to book removals to Australia or any other country, Compare My Move can connect you with up to 6 international removal companies to help you save time and money when it matters most. Good luck!

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.