How Accurate Is The Migrant Experience In Big Movies?


Ahh, Hollywood, the home of the silver screen and the purveyor of dreams. Hollywood is responsible for the vast majority of the world’s best selling films, but from a migrant perspective, how accurately do these films portray moving to, and living in the UK?

There have been many great movies focused around the subject of migration: Coming to America, Green Card and Love Actually are just a few classic examples, but let’s be honest, it is very unlikely they represent the process accurately enough. Where are the cutscenes of someone filling in a visa application or someone waiting in line to go for an interview? We’re going to explore some of the misconceptions which stem from the film industry and add a bit of context to the story.


Misconception 1 – Getting A Visa Is Easy

In fact, one of the movies about immigration mentioned above highlights just how difficult the process of getting visas can be – even though it was based on the American system: Green Card. Though the film’s premise was entirely unbelievable (and also clearly against the rules – SPOILER: there was a marriage of convenience), it did highlight the plight of foreign workers trying to stay in the country that they have chosen to work in. The vast majority of other films based on migration (such as Coming to America) are a whole different story. Clearly in Eddie Murphy’s case, being the prince of a fictional African nation was extremely useful.

The reality, however, is somewhat different when it comes to gaining a visa, specifically in the UK. For the vast majority of UK visas, there are significant hurdles to jump, none of which make it into films. The reasoning for this is probably due to entertainment: the visa process is not particularly exciting. Though for those who are coming to the UK to live and work, the process is a necessary evil to allow them to live in a great country offering some fantastic opportunities.


Misconception 2 – The British Are Bad Guys!

There’s something about Hollywood films which really has it in for British people. According to various writers, it seems the British are uniquely evil – this clearly isn’t true! While we are not all as proper as Hugh Grant, the British are known for being welcoming and friendly. With many generations of migrants living in the UK, the country is diverse and used to immigration. This means the UK is actually one of the easiest countries in the world to settle into (especially if you speak English).

Despite Hollywood’s best attempts, it is clear to see we’re not all evil!

In fact, some movies even cast Brits as heroes. The James Bond series, and even Austin Powers (though in fairness Mike Myers is not actually British), cast Brits as world-saving heroes.


Misconception 3 – It Always Rains In The UK

Ok, so the UK isn’t known for its blistering summers, but as I write this it is currently a toasty 26°C – it may not sound like much but it’s currently 1°C warmer in the UK than it is in Hawaii!

While this isn’t always the case, the UK has relatively mild weather compared to many countries and has reasonably long warm summers. Fortunately, the idea of constant rain is not true – especially in southern England, where average rainfall is lower than Rome, New York, and even sunny Sydney. Though the movies depict a cold, wet and grey country, the UK is generally temperate and on par with many western European countries like France and Germany.

For those hailing from more tropical climates, the British climate may feel a little on the cold side; outside of the summer months, the temperature rarely climbs above 20°C. Many of these migrants, however, get to experience something they would never see at home: snow. While not exactly an everyday occurrence in the UK, in the winter months (especially outside of the south of the UK) snow is an annual occurrence. For many migrants, this marks the first time they have ever seen it, and it is always enchanting for British people to see migrants from sunnier climates enjoy the snow.


So What Is The Reality Of Life In The UK Like For Migrants?

In reality, the UK is a great place for migrants to come and live. As long as they fit the eligibility criteria, the visa system is fair and unbiased – scare stories are rare considering the number of migrants who arrive on Britain’s shores. There are a variety of visa options ranging from Tier 2 to Spouse, alongside business-based visas such as the Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Innovator Visa. This means, no matter where you come from, there is likely to be a visa option to fit your specific needs.

So while Hollywood may not be that friendly to the UK (apart from Love Actually), the truth is life in the UK is more pleasant and much easier than many other places in the world. It has a strong economy and high levels of employment, excellent working conditions, and friendly, welcoming people, making it one of the most sought after destinations in the world for migrants looking to move.

So if you want to make the UK your home, get in touch today with our team of experienced immigration specialists who can help make this a reality. While we can’t promise your life will play out like a movie, we can assure you making the UK your home could be one of the best decisions you make!

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