Popular culture contains references to people like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and Joan Jett moving to the UK for a few years and pursuing their careers here. Popular culture also contains references to people who (predominantly in the 1960's and 1970's) moved to the UK for a while in order to "evolve" and "hang out" and experiment with a different culture. They supported themselves by busking, panhandling, casual labour, drug dealing, prostitution, or as street performers.
Things like this were tolerated a long time ago, but that era is gone and gone forever. In the current era, you cannot just up sticks and move to the UK; the process has become much more complex. Panhandling, busking, and casual labour are illegal and street performers require a license granted by a local authority.
If you come to the UK and try to support yourself by any of these methods, you risk getting into serious trouble and possibly facing an administrative removal order which can cause embarrassment for you in later life. Also, arriving as a tourist with the intent to settle can mark you as an illegal entrant, which can make some airlines reluctant to carry you in the future.
Here's a frequently asked question, it goes along the lines of: "...I would like to move to the UK. I would initially start out as a tourist or visitor, and then get a job, and then get a flat, and then acquire British citizenship. What's the best place to start?..."
Many people migrate here by having a job here, but it is impossible to switch from visitor to employee and people who attempt to do so risk burning their bridges with the United Kingdom. To qualify for a worker's visa, you first need a 'Certificate of Sponsorship' sent to you by a UK based company that has registered with UKBA as a licensed sponsor. With this in hand, you can then approach an offshore British visa issuing post (such as a consulate or High Commission) and apply for entry clearance. With an entry clearance in hand, you can lawfully enter the UK and begin working.
In terms of acquiring British citizenship, there are regulations that state the person must have lived here for a long time in a lawful status, there are no routes that enable a tourist or visitor to acquire citizenship.
On the bright side, there is a class of visa called 'short-term entertainer visitor visa' which does not require a full-blown work permit. We suggest researching this entry route to see if you can benefit from it.
Artist visas and writer's visas were scrapped a long time ago. While they brought personal enrichment to those lucky enough to get them, they were also heavily abused and thus delivered no net gain to the UK economy or culture.
Another similar question that pops up on the net from time to time goes along these lines: "...I feel that the UK is my true home and that I was born in the wrong country. I love the UK and everything about it, I have made friends there (or I studied there), and feel they are my true family. So for all those reasons I would love to live there and be British..."
These aspirations are echoed by thousands of people in America, Africa, South America, South Asia, and the Pacific Rim who believe the UK is their 'true' home and would like to live here. There is no way the UK can accomodate all of those people and thus there is no immigration route available for these people.
Finally, if you have developed a romantic link with a Brit, you can use the visitor programme to have a trial relationship, but there is no other long-term route outside of marriage (civil partnership, or unmarried partners) available to you. To put it informally, there is no 'let's shack up and see how it goes' visa.
All other legal inward routes are listed here
To follow up on this information, check our Internet Resources page...
Reviewed 9 May 2012