Most people would love to live in a sunny climate, and Florida is a good choice for anyone who wants sun, sea & sand without having to learn a new language. Brits have been flocking to Florida for years, attracted by lower costs of housing than the UK and higher standrs of living.
But how do you go about doing that? You can't just waltz up to US Border Control and say 'Let us in, I want a nice life in the sun'. The visa process can be long, hard & frustrating. My family & I are in the process of doing this colossal move, and would like to present some pointers that we've discovered.
The first thing to decide is which visa you're going to apply for. The Americans love to complicate matters, and if it doesn't have a gazillion forms to fill in, it's not worth doing. So get the family together and see which route is viable. Here's some of the questions that may help you decide:
1) Do you or your partner work for a large company with branches in the States? (Look at L1)
2) Do you or your partner hold a degree in a specialised subject? (Look at H1B)
3) Do you or your partner own your own business, or would like to run your own business? (Look at E2)
4) Do you or your partner have the equivilent of $500k - $1m to invest? (Look at EB-5)
We will concentrate on the 2 most popular visas in our upcoming guides - the E2 (Treaty Trader) and the L1 (Intra Company Transfer). Simply because the authors have not much experience of the other visas.
The other questions to consider before making your decision should also be addressed:
1) How do the rest of the family feel about the move? Children may be unwilling to leave their friends and relatives behind.
2) Are you prepared for an indeterminate amount of form filling, waiting and then more form-filling? The visa process is by no means easy, and some visas are currently taking nearly a year to process.
3) A lot of people think that simply moving to a holiday destination like Florida means their life will be one big vacation. There will still be bills to pay, shopping to do. The car will still break down and the kids will still answer back. You need to examine your desire to move - if you're trying to escape problems in the UK, they may still follow you over to your new life.
4) You must remember that even though (technically) the language is the same, it's still a very different culture. You must be prepared for the culture change, or you may end up wishing you'd stayed at home.
I hope this short guide has answered a few questions. In my next guide, I'll look at some of the visas in a bit more depth, so you can see if they may be right for you.
*PLEASE note the author is not a legally qualified advisor, and is simply giving their opinions and experience. Readers are urged to seek proper legal advice before proceeding with any visa application*