Moving to the UK from Ireland can be an exciting venture, as you explore new opportunities to live, study and work in the UK. However, it may feel a bit daunting planning every aspect of your move. From visa applications to finding UK job opportunities, this guide can help students looking to move from Ireland to the UK.
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Visa and Immigration Requirements
Types of Visas available for Irish citizens
If you are an Irish citizen, you will not need a visa to live, work or study in the UK.
This is because of the Common Travel Area (CTA) which is a travel zone within which citizens in the designated regions do not need a visa to live in another one of the designated regions. The designated regions include the Republic of Ireland, the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The CTA is still in place post-Brexit, and was included in the European Union Withdrawal Agreement to ensure it was protected.
In the following cases, however, you will need to apply for a visa:
- Family members of Irish students moving to the UK can apply for Dependent Visas and Spouse Visas
- Non-Irish citizens living in Ireland can apply for a Visitor Visa (up to 6 months and you are permitted to study but not to work), Short-term study Visa (6-11 months) or Student Visa (for longer courses). If you are under 17 you can also apply for the Child student visa.
You may also be able to apply for the following visas:
- Work Visa
- Graduate Visa
- Ancestry Visa.
Application process and required documents
The required documents will depend on the type of visa you apply for and can be found on the Visa pages on the Gov.uk website. This is also where you will apply for your visa.
Student visas for undergraduate and postgraduate students require you to have a confirmed place at a UK university or further education college and require you to be able to speak, write and understand English. Documents for a student visa include a valid passport and a confirmation of acceptance from your course provider.
You may also need evidence that you can financially support yourself throughout all academic years and that you can pay your part-time or full-time tuition fees – either yourself or via UK student finance
Other requirements include a Work Visa requiring confirmation of your employment, and a Graduate Visa requiring a confirmation of your previous studies as well as a pre-existing Student Visa.
All visas also require proof that you have enough money or have financial support whilst living in the United Kingdom.
Tips on how to ensure a smooth Visa application process
The best way to ensure that the visa application process goes as smoothly as possible is to make sure that:
- You are applying for the right visa – you can check to see If You Need a UK Visa and which one you need to apply for.
- You have all of the documents and information you need to hand (the details of what you need will appear on the visa page e.g. Student Visa Documents)
- You fill all of the information in accurately to avoid delays
- You send off your application in good time- it can take 3-24 weeks or longer for your application to be approved. You can also check current processing times online.
Researching the UK job market
How to identify suitable job opportunities
There are many ways to find job opportunities in the UK. In order to find the most suitable job opportunity for you, it is best to first have an idea of the area you want to work in and research the jobs within that area.
Noting down your current qualifications, skills and experience will also help you find the best jobs via keyword searches and ensure your eligibility for the positions.
Using online job boards, recruitment agencies, and networking
Online job searching websites such as Indeed, Monster and TotalJobs are very popular ways of finding current job opportunities in the UK.
You can also work with employment agencies to access suitable job opportunities, gain advice on job applications and find short-term and flexible work opportunities whilst you study.
Understanding UK job descriptions and requirements
UK job descriptions will usually have a list of the qualifications and experience that the right candidate needs to fulfil the role.
The National Recognition Information Centre for the UK (UK NARIC) is the agency which oversees academic, vocational and professional qualifications around the world.
If you have a degree from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales then it will be recognised provided it is on the list of recognised awards from recognised bodies (such as recognised higher education institutions and colleges).
Qualifications from EU countries including the Republic of Ireland are recognised in the UK if they are of equivalent standard to the UK.
Steps to verify your Irish qualifications in the UK
If you have a professional qualification from the Republic of Ireland, then unless you have had your qualification officially recognised before January 1 2021, you will need to get your professional qualification recognised to begin working in the UK.
CV and cover letter tips
How to format a UK-style CV (Resume)
There are several options when it comes to formatting your UK-style CV, however, there is a standard structure that most UK employers expect to see. Most UK CVs follow the below format from the top of the page to the bottom:
- Contact information
- Personal Statement
- Key accomplishments/skills
- Work History [most to least recent]
- Education History [most to least recent]
- Other Certifications
- Hobbies and interests
Tips for writing effective cover letters
- Keep your cover letter to ½ a page – 1 page long
- Highlight your most relevant skills/experience
- Tailor your cover letter to the employer and job you are applying for
- Highlight how your experience fits the job description/person criteria
- Double-check your spelling and grammar
Tailoring your application materials to the job
Tailoring your CV and cover letter to the job you are applying for is key. This helps to demonstrate your passion for working for that company, your keenness to work in that job role and your knowledge of the job itself.
In your CV and cover letter, highlight the skills, qualifications and experience relevant to the role you are applying for. You can also put specifics in the cover letter or application form such as keywords that the job advert uses, and references to that company’s previous achievements or their current practices that you admire.
Interviews and networking
Strategies for job interviews in the UK
Preparing for your interview is a key aspect of getting a job in the UK. There are several key strategies to interviews, including:
- Preparing the basics: In the UK, it is customary to arrive around 10 minutes early for an interview and to dress appropriately for the job role.
- Preparing questions: Common questions such as “Why are you interested in this position?” or “What are your key strengths and weaknesses?” can be difficult to answer articulately on the spot, so doing some preparation is essential.
- Preparing your knowledge: Research the company and job role thoroughly enough to answer questions specifically and to ask questions at the end of the interview. This demonstrates an eagerness, confidence and preparedness that employers admire.
Networking opportunities and tips for making professional connections
Networking is a great way to find new job opportunities and develop your career. In the UK, career fairs and networking events are common ways for people to meet potential new employers and increase their career prospects.
Attending local career fairs can be a great way of networking without having prior professional experience. Networking via social media, local groups and through volunteering can also help you find new career opportunities. If you are already in a career that you love, then industry-specific networking events in your local area could be a great opportunity for you to develop your career in the UK.
Preparing for competency-based interviews
Competency-based interviews are common here in the UK, and they focus on your experience and professional competencies.
The Star Method is a good way to prepare for a competency-based interview, and is a method to help you describe a situation which demonstrates your abilities. It stands for situation, task, action and result and helps you to clearly articulate an experience which evidences your key skills.
Prior to your interview, think of situations or experiences where you have demonstrated skills related to the job you’re applying for. For example, a time when you have used your initiative to solve a problem or overcome a challenge.
Healthcare, insurance, and voting rights
As Irish citizens are covered by the CTA, when you move to the UK you will automatically be entitled to free healthcare on the NHS. If you are a non-Irish citizen, then you may need to pay a surcharge in order to access NHS healthcare whilst living in the UK.
You can register with your local GP online or pick up a form from your local surgery.
There are also private healthcare options and you can get private health insurance via companies such as Bupa, Aviva and Vitality.
Irish citizens can register to vote in local and national elections if they are of voting age as this is covered by the CTA Agreement.
Registering with the Irish Embassy or Consulate in the UK
You do not need to register with the Irish Embassy or Consulate in the UK if you are an Irish citizen due to the CTA.
If you are not an Irish citizen but are living in Ireland and planning a move to the UK, then you can register voluntarily via the Department of Foreign Affairs. This means that they will have a record of your details in case of an emergency such as a natural disaster or civil unrest.