Tuesday, 29 April 2014

9 Different Ways You Can Move to Scotland

The number one email I receive is about obtaining a VISA to live and work in Scotland. I've addressed this topic very briefly {here and here} many years ago. I went back and read those old posts recently and realized that they aren't that informative. Mostly because I didn't know very much about it at the time. Sorry! Times have changed and I want to share what I know with you.

I am living in Scotland on a Residence Visa. I'm the lucky one who married an EU member. We both have the legal right to live and work anywhere within the European Union--that's 28 countries! But most people don't have that option and are looking for other ways to live and work abroad.

I can not stress enough the importance of doing this legally. There is a lot of red tape but you must do it correctly or you could be in some real trouble. I've known people to arrive here and in the end they had to pack up and move back to the US because they didn't do things correctly. I can't even imagine the costs involved. If you need to hire an immigration attorney then do it. But do your homework. Dot every i and cross every t on those forms. It all matters.

I mostly get emails about obtaining a Work Visa. Those are hard to get. Let's say you're an American and you want to live in Scotland. You think you can just apply for a job in the country of your choice and this said company will hire you and become your sponsor. They will provide the funds and job to warrant a Work Visa. This is very unlikely but it can happen. Let me explain. For a company to do that they have to prove to the government why they couldn't get someone within those 28 EU countries to do the job. Let's be honest anyway, they can most likely find someone to do the job within their own geographic boundaries.

The last thing I want to do is discourage anyone from going for their dreams so I am here to help you think outside the box. I want YOU to live in Scotland!

Here are some ideas to get you to the UK::

+ Study Abroad. Have you wanted to go back to school? Well, maybe doing it in another country is just the adventure you are looking for. You can even obtain a Student Visa for just a few small courses. If you are already in school your current university will have study abroad programs where you can spend a semester in another country. Do it! You won't regret the experience.

+ Volunteer for a UK charity. This will be unpaid but a great experience if you save your pennies.

+ Do you have a grandparent that was born in the UK? Then you could be in luck!

+ Dreaming of starting your own business? Doing it in the UK could give you the VISA you want.

+ Apply for work at a Fortune 500 company in your home country. Oil companies are a great place to start. Aberdeen, Scotland is the Energy Capital of Europe {wink wink}. It may take you a few years to get where you want but some good planning could have you jet setting throughout the world on the companies dime.

+ Have you ever thought about being an Au Pair? Many busy families are looking for caregivers to help in their home and prefer someone from another country to give their kids a diverse upbringing.

+ Did you know you can obtain a Visitor Visa and stay in the UK for up to 6 months? Save your money and you can have the experience of living in the UK for a short period of time.

+ Intern Abroad. This will look great on your resume!

+ There are a whole host of Work Visas available. You never know, you just might qualify!

Are any of you planning the move? Share with us how you're doing it in the comments!


  1. Will be pursuing postgrad in Glasgow! I'm over the moon and I'm living and breathing preparing for school (because its in Scotland, because its at a great school and because I'll get my Masters degree).

    (Plus I heart Waitrose...I want to shop there and buy good tea on a regular basis. Oh and the cold! Love the cold!)

    1. Great! You're going to love Glasgow. We lived there for 5.5 yrs before we moved north.

  2. Already moved to Aberdeen! On a work visa. It's hard to get it, most companies claim it's expensive and bureaucratic (and it is actually), but there are companies willing to sponsor depending on the role. To those who want to explore this route: find what makes you differ from other candidates and give it a try.

    1. Fantastic Dani!! I'm so glad you chimed in. It is good to know that a Work Visa CAN happen!

  3. This is one of our challenges yet to overcome. Thanks for your insight and knowledge! Maybe I'll go back to school... or something!

    1. Click the Work Visa link I have listed and you will find a work visa for religious workers. That would be the one you'd want. The church you would be serving with would be the one to sponsor you. I'm under the impression that that one is easily obtained. Good luck!

  4. My husband is heading to St Andrews in the fall for a post graduate programme, and we're all going with him (me and our four kids). Will be doing the Visa app in the next few months, it's getting real! We're excited!!

  5. I think I'll try a Visitor Visa. That's a start. Thanks Mary, you put it all in one easy understandable manner. I appreciate it.

  6. I currently live in and go to University in California. My dad was born and raised in the UK so I think it would be easiest to apply for citizenship rather than a visa.

  7. Mary there may be another way to move to Scotland you failed to mention. My American daughter just married a true good Scotsman and will soon be a "subject to the queen" (dual citizenship). She had a fairy tale wedding via a grand Cathedral and Castle reception. Our family is originally from Scotland (moved to USA in 1855) She has expressed a wish for me to retire in Scotland as a "dependent". Though it would be more to my taste to find and marry a Good Scottish Lass eventually..lol . After all Scotland has some of the most beautiful women in the world. Anyway. what do you know about living in Scotland as a dependent. You are right about the government data being somewhat vague at times.

    1. Looking to marry a Scotsman isn't really a viable option to people looking to move abroad. It goes without saying that if you marry someone from a different country than dual citizenship is an option. People coming here are looking for other ways to move abroad that doesn't involve marriage.

      Coming to Scotland as a dependant is an option but there are a lot more details than you think. We looked into it for my mother, and while it still may be an option, there are a lot of restrictions.

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    3. LOL..the marriage comments were more a joke MARY..it was my way of saying I thought Scottish ladies were beautiful when I visited Scotland...I will explore the restrictions you spoke about..thank you

  8. I just stumbled upon your blog and love it. Great job! I wish I had found it before moving to Scotland, would have made things easier for me.
    I am currently writing a similar blog targeting students coming to Scotland (studentexperiencescotland.com) for one of my courseworks, but hope to continue with it after.
    Again, love your blog. Keep it up!

  9. Hi all! My name is Carolyn (American via Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Minnesota, ha!) living in Scotland on a Tier 4 visa studying Business and Management at the University of Glasgow. I myself, will be in a bit of a pickle in a few years time once I graduate and am looking for advice.

    We all know that life does what it wants and takes you where you need to be and so here I am in Glasgow, loving my life and currently studying for exams. I met the most amazing Scotsman (almost a year ago) and as it turns out, my very winding road which led me here, wants to stay here post grad to see where our road will take us next.

    Without putting pressure on the two of us to move faster than we have to (although we have discussed and agreed that staying together is exactly what we want to do), I'm curious about my options. My head spins when I go on the gov.uk site as there are so many big words that this mature student can't quite wrap my head around, so I'm wondering if there is anyone out there with real life experience who can guide me.

    Basic options are:
    Continue with school. Not the cheapest route, but the least stressful.
    Find a company who will sponsor me. I'm starting a summer internship with an American company, but they've told me they do not sponsor once my visa runs out. (I'd have to move back, work in America and try to get transferred back here).
    Get married?!

    Well, that's the one that confuses me the most. The laws have changed so much in the past few years, I'm wondering if anyone has ever applied for a "partner of a British citizen or person settled in the UK" To me, that seems like the least stressful option, because we wouldn't have to quickly get married, we can still be together with the idea of getting married when the time is right.

    Any advice on dual citizenship. Is that even an option? I absolutely will not give up my American citizenship.

    Anyway, any insight would be great! I'm in Glasgow if anyone wants to meetup sometime to chat! (coffee?!)



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