How to Relocate to the UK from Nigeria with Children

Moving to a new country is a major life change for anyone. When you have children, particularly those in school, an international relocation brings many additional factors to consider. The immigration process can be complex, and adapting to a new environment while ensuring the well-being of your children adds another layer of challenge.

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As someone who recently made the move from Nigeria to the UK, I will share some invaluable insights for fellow families embarking on a similar journey. From preparing your children emotionally to navigating legal requirements, these five essential tips will help you pave the way for a smoother transition.

Before you can emigrate to the UK, you will need a VISA, and there are many options available to consider depending on your reason for relocating. We have ;

  1. A Student Visa
  2. UK Spouse Visa for Nigerians
  3. A Work Visa
  4. Entrepreneur Visa

Since we are talking about moving to the UK with children, I will only talk about the spousal Visa. Below are the requirements you need to apply for a spousal Visa.

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Requirement For A UK Spousal Visa For Nigerians

  1. You and your partner must be at least 18 years old.
  2. You must be married or in a legally recognized civil partnership in the United Kingdom.
  3. Your sponsor must be a British citizen or a permanent resident of the United Kingdom.
  4. Before getting married, you must have met in person at least once.
  5. For the last two years, you must have been living together.
  6. You can apply for a Fiancé Visa if you and your spouse are not married but plan to get married in the UK once you arrive from Nigeria.

Moving to the UK with Children: 5 Essential Tips to Consider

  1. Have Open and Honest Discussions with Your Children: Communication is key when it comes to preparing your children for an international move. Engage in open and honest conversations about upcoming changes, allowing them to voice their concerns and fears. Encourage them to say goodbye to friends and family members, helping them cope with the emotional aspects of leaving familiar surroundings. For older children, involve them in researching the new country, its culture, and the exciting opportunities that await them. This involvement can build excitement and a sense of anticipation for the journey ahead.
  2. Gather Necessary Legal Documentation: Navigating immigration processes can be complex, particularly when you’re a mother moving with dependent children. Ensure you have all the required legal documentation well in advance. If your children are under 18, they can be granted a dependent visa. However, single mothers should seek guidance from an immigration lawyer to avoid any potential travel issues. Being well-prepared with the necessary paperwork will save you time and stress at immigration checkpoints.
  3. Research Childcare Options: Childcare can be a major concern for mothers moving to the UK. With no access to public healthcare, it’s essential to explore childcare options before your move. Research and familiarize yourself with the available childcare providers in the city you plan to relocate to. Understand the costs involved and evaluate which option best suits your family’s needs. This proactive approach will help you transition into your new routine with ease.
  4. Build a Supportive Network: Transitioning to a new country can be isolating, but connecting with like-minded individuals can make a significant difference. Join online communities, such as Facebook groups or other social media platforms, specifically designed for mothers who have gone through similar experiences. These platforms offer a wealth of information, advice, and emotional support. Building a network of friends who understand your challenges will help you feel more grounded and empowered.
  5. Choose the Right Neighborhood: Selecting the right neighborhood to call home is crucial, especially when you have children. Consider factors such as proximity to schools, parks, and amenities. Discuss with your partner whether you prefer a bustling urban environment or a quieter suburban setting. Additionally, determine the type of housing that suits your family’s needs—whether it’s a house with a garden or a flat with a balcony for your children to play. Making an informed decision about your living situation will contribute to your family’s overall well-being.

If you’re moving from Nigeria to the United Kingdom with school-aged kids in town, this guide will walk you through everything you need to prepare for your education in the UK.

Settling Your children in the UK, things to do.

Researching Schools

One of the first things you’ll need to do is research schools in the area where you intend to live. The UK has a wide range of school options, including:

  • State schools: Public/government-funded schools, a most common option
  • Grammar schools: State secondary schools that select students based on academic ability
  • Faith schools: State-funded religious schools
  • Private/independent schools: Fee-paying schools

In England and Wales, school is compulsory for children ages 5-16. The school system is divided into stages:

  • Primary school -Reception + Years 1-6 (ages 4-11)
  • Secondary school – Years 7-11 (ages 11-16)
  • Sixth form – Years 12-13 (ages 16-18)

When researching schools, look at Ofsted reports which evaluate quality. Also consider location, academic performance, special needs support if required, fees (for private schools), and whether the school has experience accommodating international students. You can apply to schools directly or hire an education consultant to assist you.

Following the Admissions Process

Once you’ve identified some potential schools for your children, you’ll need to follow the proper admissions process, which varies by school type:

State Schools

For most state primary and secondary schools, you submit an application to the local council. You apply directly to the school for faith schools, grammar schools, and schools outside your council.

The application timeline is:

  • September-October – Research schools and submit applications
  • March 1 – Notification of offers received
  • Mid-March – Accept or decline the offer
  • End of August – Start of the new school year

To increase your chances of getting into a preferred state school, apply to more than one. You can indicate ranking preferences on the application.

Supporting documents like proof of address and your child’s last school report may be needed.

Private Schools

For private schools, you submit an application directly to the school. Many have their own process and deadlines, which are earlier than state schools. You may need to register your child 1-2 years prior to entry.

After application, your child may be interviewed and/or asked to sit an entrance exam. If accepted, a tuition offer letter will be sent.

Preparing Your Children

Relocating to the UK will be a major transition for your children. Here are some tips to help them prepare:

  • Discuss the move openly as a family – talk through apprehensions and excitement. Be positive!
  • Answer questions and explain how UK schools may be different.
  • If possible, have them spend time with other children attending school in the UK to learn about their experience.
  • If your children will attend a boarding school, consider having them sleep away from home for a weekend or short stay to get comfortable being away.
  • Practice English often to improve language skills.

Also, prepare them for changes to the curriculum by looking at sample timetables online together. Review classroom expectations and discipline policies so they know what to expect.

Handling Logistics

In addition to finding a school and preparing your kids, you also need to handle important logistics:

Visas/Immigration

  • Apply for a tier 4 international student visa for your child to study in the UK if you don’t have permanent residency.
  • A work visa may be required for you as a parent to legally reside with your children in the UK.

Vaccinations

  • Schedule your child’s immunization updates early – the UK has requirements beyond what’s required in Nigeria.

Transportation

  • Determine how your kids will get to school – walking, school bus, public transport or private car service all have pros and cons.
  • If using a bus, apply for transport assistance if eligible.

Uniforms/Supplies

  • Order school uniforms well in advance of the start of term.
  • Buy any required supplies – check individual school lists.

Settling Your Child into School

Once you arrive in the UK in late summer, focus on settling your child into their new school:

  • Attend orientation programs to meet teachers/staff and other students
  • Tour classroom and school facilities so your child is familiar with the surroundings
  • Share special needs, medical conditions, and learning requirements with school officials
  • Confirm transportation plans for getting your child to and from school
  • Introduce your child to classmates early on to start making friends
  • Encourage involvement in school clubs and after-school activities
  • Stay in close contact with teachers in the first months to ensure a smooth transition
  • Celebrate the start of this new adventure for your family!

Relocating abroad with children takes thoughtful planning and open communication. Allowing plenty of time for the process means you can find the right school fit. Keeping your child’s excitement and nervousness in mind will help the transition go smoothly. The effort is well worth it for the incredible experience of learning and living in a new country.