There are 4 main ways that you can move from one country to another, in general:
1. You are seeking political asylum
2. You get a job with an employer in that country
3. You attend a university in that country
4. You marry a person who is a citizen of that country
Seems pretty simple, right? Wrong.
We're going to dismiss #1 out of hand, because as much many people in the US can't stand Bush, he's not an excuse for needing protection in another country.
So, on to #2.
You can't just find a job. The main way to be allowed to get a job in the UK would be through a work permit. Work permit applications must be made by the employer, not you, and they happen through one of the following:
Business and Commercial. Work permits will normally only be issued for jobs that require high-level skills.
Sportspeople and Entertainers. Work permits are only issued for established entertainers, cultural artists, sportspeople and some technical/suppport people whose employment will not displace or exclude resident workers.
Training and Work Experience Scheme (TWES). TWES enables employers to provide Training for a Professional or Specialist Qualification, or Work Experience to a person from abroad who needs permission to work in England, Scotland and Wales. TWES permits are a specific type of work permit.
With all of these, you have to have some amazing skill that is desperately needed for jobs in the UK and you have to not take jobs from UK residents and most importantly, a company has to think enough of you to get you a work permit. As you might imagine, this isn't something that happens often.
Now, I did find a new offering: the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP). This allows you to move to the UK and seek work without having a work permit first. Sounds promising, right? Not quite. To apply, you have to have at least 65 points in the following categories:
So, let's see how I would score for this...
1) Education. I have a Master's degree, that gives me 25 points.
2) Work experience. I can go with the first - minimum 5 years' graduate level work experience, that gives me another 25 points.
3) Past earnings. To get any points here, I had to have made at least 40,000 pounds per year. Ooops. I get no points here.
4) Achievement. This can be one of the following: Industry prize, Ownership intellectual property rights, Published work, Published testimonials/profile, Peer group reviews, Scholarship/research rewards, Academic reference, Press articles, Industry reference and Other. Hmmm. I might be able to get some sort of peer group review, but I'm not certain what they mean by that. No points here.
5) Your partner's achievements. Your partner must also not already be settled (permanently resident) in the UK. So much for that. No points here.
So my total points are 50 - not enough to apply. Not too surprised, really - they're looking for people who will make significant contributions to UK business (and likely make enough money to contribute to UK taxes!). So as you can see, the job thing is not an easy way to go. For more information, click here. On to #3...
#3 - going on a student visa. I'm not going to say much on this one because it doesn't apply to me, and there is a lot of information for students who want to study abroad (often available from their US universities). For information on this, check out this site which talks about programs, financial aid, etc. You may also want to check out BUNAC, which has information about programs allowing current university students in the US to work in the UK for up to 6 months.
#4 - marrying a UK citizen. These are the requirements that need to be met to complete the application for a fiancé(e) visa:
You also have to prove that you have a place to live (a lease, a mortgage, etc) and a letter from the employer of the fiancé(e) in the UK stating how long they’ve been employed, their salary, etc. For more information on a fiancé(e) visa head to the British Embassy in the US.