Brit Dopers: a question about job opportunities for (legally resident) foreigners

No, I’m not contemplating moving to the U.K. - to make a long story short, an old friend of mine from college has lived there for ~ 20 years, is married to a Brit, and is saying it’s been extremely difficult to impossible for her to find a full-time job for most of that time because she is not a UK citizen. I am trying to evaluate the veracity of that statement, because the resultant money issues are part of what has made her life kind of a mess these days. (She doesn’t live in London, if that makes a difference.)

Specifically, she says that UK immigration laws changed after 9/11, and when she was made redundant and tried to get another job, she found out she wasn’t fit to work in the UK because she didn’t have the right paperwork. She applied for her Biometric Resident Permit which took 5 months and was at home unable to work during that time.

However, I know several other non-Brits who have been working in the UK (legally) for years - another college friend with U.S./French higher education, another high school friend of mine with U.S. education, a couple of Bulgarians…but they are all in the London area.

Is it likely that she has had this much difficulty finding a full-time job? Or does she need to do something different and/or just try harder? She is finally applying for UK citizenship after 20 years, but the reasons why she hasn’t until now are a rant for another day.

France and Bulgaria are in the EU, so no problems for them. The law requires that a job applicant can prove their right to live and work in the UK, much like the green card system in the US.

Once she has the correct documentation, she is competing with everyone else in her field for the jobs. If she is an engineer, a nurse or a teacher, she might have fewer problems.

Seems strange. I have a US ex-pat friend who changed jobs at least twice before she got citizenship with no problems. What kind of job is she after? If there are plenty of applicants then employers may be playing safe by taking citizens. I imagine many small employers are nervous about how brexit is going to shake out.

I think the clue is in the question :slight_smile:

“she wasn’t fit to work in the UK because she didn’t have the right paperwork”
“She is finally applying for UK citizenship after 20 years”

it’s a bit of a minefield, and there have been cases where spouses have been deported - just because you are married to a Brit doesn’t give you an automatic right to a stay or a work Visa. However - after 20 years, I suspect she could be rather further on than she is.

I did find this as a cite however from www.gov.uk that if that person was born in the UK then she could have applied for an ILR after 2, 5 or 10 years, depending on stuff

Eligibility
You need to have been living in the UK with a ‘partner of a settled person’ visa for:

2 years if you applied for your visa before 9 July 2012
5 years or 10 years if you applied for your visa on or after 9 July 2012
Read the guidance for the 2-year route and the 5- and 10-year routes.

https://www.gov.uk/settle-in-the-uk/y/you-re-the-family-member-or-partner-of-a-british-citizen/no/partner/you-re-still-with-your-partner

Is your friend an American citizen? Because a lot of companies don’t want the hassle of dealing with American tax and financial authorities.

Without knowing details, it sounds to me like she hasn’t got her legal paperwork in place giving her permission to work. UK companies employ millions of foreign workers with little thought or issue, so I doubt its some kind of prejudice, and there isn’t an unemployment problem here (it’s actually the lowest its been since the '70s).

What’s her field? Is her citizenship ‘really’ the issue, or is it experience in whatever she’s persueing?

The UK employer doesn’t have to deal with US tax or financial institutions. The foreign employee will have a National Insurance number and pay UK tax through PAYE just like everyone else. It’s down to the US citizen to deal with the IRS themselves.

That doesn’t appear to be the case hereabouts. Large companies can deal with it, of course, but small ones cannot. Of course, hereabouts it’s the oil industry with its connections to ‘Evul Muslim’ ™ countries, so that may be a factor.

Are you sure? My small (45sih people) company, and others I’ve worked for, have employed people from all around the world at various times, including the US. As long as they have a permit to work for the time we want them and the NI number to go with it, that’s all we care about - their tax back home is not our concern.

A bit more detail: the person in question is my college roommate. She moved to the UK on a fiancee visa in ~ 1997, married her husband, applied for permanent residence, had 2 kids, and has lived in the UK as a permanent resident (or whatever the appropriate UK term is) ever since. She was eligible to apply for UK citizenship, she says, in 2002, but never did because of money issues. I am trying to figure out whether it was because her husband is a cheap bastard (which he is; I have seen the evidence on several occasions when I have visited them), or whether it’s because she is being a martyr (which is also entirely possible).

I think money has always been a big issue in their relationship. For various historical reasons, she really wanted to be a SAHM, and hasn’t had a full-time job since her kids were born (they are now 16 and 18). I also really doubt that she has been completely unable to find a FT job all this time, but that’s a rant for another day. She has a university degree in French and Spanish and has worked as a teacher, both in the U.S. and in the U.K. Before her kids were born, she was pursuing some sort of alternative teacher certification program that required 2 years of supervised teaching, but she got pregnant and didn’t finish the second year. She has been substitute teaching here and there, but says she hasn’t been able to find a steady job. I am trying to evaluate the validity of that assertion.

The GQ here is what the backstory is these days in the UK with what documentation employers require for hiring purposes, I guess.

Yes. But she has never mentioned that as an issue and has been doing various temp jobs for much of this time.

The friend with French education is a U.S. (and not also French) citizen. He has an Austrian wife and has lived in the UK and several other countries based on her EU nationality, but has never lived in any one EU country long enough to become a citizen himself. Now he owns his own business - it will be interesting to see what happens to him after Brexit.

Well, I am in no way an expert in UK immigration, but if she’s been supply teaching, then it sounds like she does have a permit to work (schools don’t tend to employ illegal immigrants, even on a temporary basis!). It sounds like she just can’t find a decent job, which wouldn’t be visa related.

Indefinite Leave to Remain tends to be the equivalent of what you’re calling ‘Permanent Residency’. ILR gives you the right to work, so if she’s using ‘work permit/paperwork issues’ as a reason… she may be telling porkies.

Maybe the paperwork issue is more to do with the teaching? You can’t work as a full time school teacher without a recognised teaching qualification (beyond a degree), so maybe she just isn’t appropriately qualified at this point. She should have finished her course!

It’s a worrying time for a lot of people, including many EU citizens. I have a German friend (with British wife) who’s lived here for almost 20 years. With five years residence, she could have applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain, but her wife’s work took them to Brazil for a couple of years, which broke her record.

She’s crossing all toes that EU citizens like her will get a pass. Plus she owns a business employing five others. But it’s a genuine worry. I have other friends desperately trying to rush through British Citizenship, even though that wouldn’t be their first choice.

By and large, and I have no expertise in immigration issues, a self-employed foreigner who is earning enough, and especially if they are an employee, would have little trouble getting the required status. The main concern is that immigrants become dependant on state benefits without having made any contribution in the first place.

The OP’s friend might do better starting her own business. Her marriage probably entitles her to remain, but running an internet-based business from her garage might be a way forward. She should also consider agency work - I have a friend who is a retired teacher and he gets work as a locum, for as many weeks as he wants.

Maybe her best course of action would be to contact the Department of Employment for proper advice.

I don’t know what other issues might be there, but her lack of work most definitely has nothing to do with her not being a U.K. citizen. I’m in the U.K. on a spousal Visa, and am quite happily employed full time. As long as she has evidence of her immigration status no employer is going to think twice about employing her just because she’s not a full citizen.

Permanent residency is all she needs to be allowed to work. Becoming a citizen just means she can get a UK passport and vote (and it is VERY expensive - around $1500).

The issue is probably one that was touched upon in a previous post - her teaching certification. Teachers here usually need something called Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in order to secure a proper teaching post. It would be very hard to get a teaching job without it, though academies will sometimes hire what’s charmingly called an “unqualified teacher”. She may have started a programme like Schools Direct, which pays for training. It’s certainly something for her to look into, although there may not be a lot available depending on where she is.

She also pointed out that when she was first eligible, the cost was around $200, but somehow they never found the money.

From the sound of her latest email, it may be moot because she wants to leave her husband and move back to the U.S.

In a fairly recent scandal, a whole lot of post WWII migrants found that they couldn’t document their right to live in the UK, because the responsible UK department had destroyed all the old paperwork.

Even before that, it wasn’t unusual for people to have problems with particular government departments – UK attitudes to that were illustrated by the 1985 satire “Brazil”, which starts with a man loosing his life because of a government paperwork error.

It is entirely credible that she was unable to find work because her residency paperwork was not in order. Since she apparently now has that sorted out, it’s no longer an issue.

That may have been true once but not these days. Employers have to carry out checks to ensure that the [potential] employee is legally allowed to work here.

It’s not simple to establish what an individual needs to do - this sets it out in detail: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/441957/employers_guide_to_acceptable_right_to_work_documents_v5.pdf