I am expecting a job offer in the UK and have some questions. The company will take care of the visa requirements as part of my package, but I'd like to go earlier to familiarize myself with the city and try to find a place to live. Can I go into the country as a tourist (I would have six months), and simply wait there for the work permit to go through? I realize the application has to be done from the country of origin, but what if the process is already under way and I am simply waiting for the approval? Would I have to leave the EU and then come back in with the work permit visa? thanks!
You can absolutely travel as a tourist to England, assuming you are able to attain a tourist visa. By this I mean, there are no specific restrictions on you just because you are under process for another visa type.
However, you must leave and return on a different visa if you plan on working, as your purpose of stay would have changed.
I am sure your employer would advise you of the same - as working under a visitor visa is strictly forbidden.
In fact, you would have to exit the UK and then (once your approval has been received by your employer and communicated to your home country's UK mission):
- File a new application.
- Get a new appointment.
- Go for an interview (optional)
- Any other requirements as per your new visa type
- Arrange for travel (your company may assist you in this)
- Finally, land and be admitted under the new visa that allows you to work.
Normally, companies that are bringing in staff from overseas will cover a certain period of your living expenses till you are able to find housing. Some also offer the services of a real estate agent to help with your house search.
This is usually part of a relocation package; you should ask your company about this. Sometimes, the actual employer will hire a third party relocation company for this exact purpose.
Things generally included (from my own experience):
At least one month stay covered for up to a specific amount of money.
Assistance with finding permanent accommodation; usually through a contract with a real estate company. The employer usually covers the agent's fees.
Assistance with tax filings (usually, only for the first year).
Assistance with other civil documents (such as opening bank accounts, registering children for school, etc.)
A relocation stipend (fixed amount of money you are given to cover incidental expenses).
Make sure you ask your employer if you are able to avail any of the above, and good luck.