The eight key themes involved in your settling down in the UK are accommodation, phone network, bank account, residence permit, NI number, job search, credit, and healthcare. Here is how to go about them.
Editor's note: We've been at the front of championing the conversation around the UK Global Talent Visa for immigrants. In April 2022, we hosted a Twitter Space with past recipients of the Global Talent Visa—Peace Itimi (2021), Seunla Osinowo (2021), and Imole Oluyemi (2020). Today, we are sharing additional information on how to effectively settle in the UK as a Global Talent Visa immigrant. The article is by Imole Oluyemi.
Packing up from your home country to live in a completely different country can be daunting. I think that only the courageous and adventurous can do this. However, settling well in the United Kingdom, just like any other country, requires getting the basics right to have a smooth transition.
My family and I moved to the United Kingdom about two years ago as Global Talent immigrants. Figuring out the first set of things was tedious as we had to do so in bits and pieces and from diverse sources.
This Global Talent Visa route is relatively new in the UK, meaning that what applies to someone on Tier 2, Tier 4, or other types of T1 visas does not entirely apply to you. This also means we’ve had to advise many other Global talent migrants who came in after us.
With more professionals worldwide interested in the UK Global Talent visa, I thought it would help more people by sharing some of the basic things that should be in place as soon as they arrive.
The eight key themes involved in your settling down in the UK are: accommodation, phone network, bank account, residence permit, NI number, job search, credit, and healthcare.
You can search for accommodation before entering the UK by visiting Rightmove, Zoopla, or Openrent. Note that the closer to London your choice location is, the costlier the rent will be.
When you find your preferred accommodation, put in a viewing request, and the agency or Landlord will contact you.
Landlords and agencies are interested in your ability to pay rent when due without default. So, typically, if you are new in the UK and have not started working, some landlords may ask you to pay between three to six months of rent upfront to prioritise your bid. Otherwise, rent is paid per month, in the UK.
However, nothing stops you from negotiating the proposed rent downward, especially when you know you have good standing.
I have noticed that factors such as:
- the apartment's purchase price,
- the lessor of the apartment (agent or Landlord directly),
- the ownership type and the apartment's overall condition
could make apartments having the same spec within the same block of flats have varying rent prices.
Phone network provider
My household uses the Giffgaff mobile network, which works well for us. In addition, it seems to work well everywhere we've gone in the UK. There are other UK telco providers like LycaMobile, Lebara, Three, Virginmedia, Voxi, and O2.
Benjamindada.com can confirm that TLS Contact Ikeja—the Visa Application Centre for biometric capture—issued Lebara SIM cards to UK applicants. We, however, don't know how long that partnership will last for.
We subscribed to their £10/month package for 15GB of data and unlimited calls and text. To get started, go to their website and order a free SIM. They will deliver to your address in a couple of days.
Some believe getting a contract with more established ones like Three and O2 will help build credit. I can't, however, verify this claim.
I currently operate several UK Bank accounts, many of which are challenger banks. However, I will advise you to try opening Monzo first as your default bank. If that fails, Starling, Wise, and Revolut are just as good.
As for the traditional banks, your bank statement from any of the above challenger banks can serve as a proof of address for opening accounts with conventional banks such as Lloyds, Halifax, Barclays, Santander, Natwest and HSBC banks.
Please pick up your Biometric Residence permit (BRP) within ten days of your arrival in the UK at the address (usually a Post office) indicated in the letter that accompanied your visa.
National Insurance number
This number ensures that your National insurance contributions from work and taxes are always recorded in your name. You can register to get one here. It takes around 4-6 weeks to get one.
Please note that you can start a job without one for as long as it's under processing. But make sure that you get the number to your employer as soon as you have it.
Jobs are everywhere. It just depends on what your preference is. There are many websites where you can get jobs, but Linkedin worked for us. I think new jobs get added every week and holiday periods affect the quantity and quality of jobs posted in the UK.
I will say that you should never get discouraged when you get rejections after applying and going through the recruitment process. The feedback isn't always a reflection of your competence; sometimes, it's a matter of the company/recruiting manager's preference for a candidate.
See every interview as an iteration. Work on the clarity of your communication, especially if you're not a native English speaker.
Remember, getting a permanent job makes a lot of things more accessible for a new immigrant. So make sure that you prioritise this unless you're building a business right off the bat.
There are a couple of things I think one should do to build credit:
- Make sure you get your name on utility bills such as Council tax, energy, gas or water bill. To do this, make sure that you ask the Agent/Land to give you the necessary information about this before you move in. You may be the one to contact most of the utility service providers so that they can send the subsequent bills in your name.
- Pay your utility bills on time and set up a direct debit on a dedicated account. For example, My wife and I opened a challenger bank account to handle utility bills by direct debit monthly. This approach helps you worry less about which bills you have not paid and also helps you not to forget to pay the bills.
- I'm not sure this helps, but try registering for a temporary driver's license as soon as you've lived legally in the UK for at least 185 days in total in the past 12 months.
- Register to vote
- Try not to move homes too frequently so lenders would not think you may be having issues paying rent.
One of the beautiful things about the UK is the universal healthcare system accessible through the NHS. However, you must have paid for this through your IHS fees while completing your visa application as an immigrant.
Therefore, when you arrive in the UK, an essential part of your onboarding is keying into the primary healthcare system by registering with your preferred (usually nearest) GP practice.
To register with a GP, google the nearest GP practice to you and give them a call informing them of your intention to be registered with them. Please mention that you are new to the UK and do not have an NHS number yet.
To make this process even easier, download the Babylon app. Babylon enables you to register to their GPatHand practice very easily and consult with medical professionals quickly without needing to visit a physical location when you don't need to.
Imole Oluyemi is a Product Designer at Babylon.