Due to its geographical position in the most
desirable part of Europe, the UK residency and citizenship programmes offer attractive opportunities to investors and entrepreneurs alike.
The Tier 1 (Investor Visa) Visa category is predominantly designed for high-net-worth individuals who are looking to relocate to the UK, either alone or with family members.
In order to qualify, the applicant is required to have a minimum £2 million available, held in a regulated financial institution and is readily available to dispense in the UK without any restriction. The length of time required to qualify for permanent residency may vary depending on the amount of investment.
The investment thresholds are as follows:
1. Investment of £2 million - eligibility for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years in the UK
2. Investment of £5 million - eligibility for indefinite leave to remain after 3 years in the UK
3. Investment of £10 million - eligibility for indefinite leave to remain after 2 years in the UK
Applicants are permitted to spend 180 days outside of the UK.
In order to qualify for the above investment categories, an investment must be made into corporate bonds or share or loan capital investments into active and trading UK domiciled companies. Share or loan capital investments can include investments held in foreign currencies.
If the applicant qualifies for the first category, they will be eligible to apply for British citizenship after 6 years of residence in the UK, while those in the second and third categories are eligible to apply for British Citizenship after 5 years of residence in the UK.
There is no requirement to demonstrate the English language ability and both the applicant and family members can study, be employed or self-employed in the UK without restrictions.
The Start-up and Innovator Visa categories were launched in March 2019 to replace the previous
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1(Graduate
The Start-up category is an expanded version of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category. It is designed for individuals looking to start a new business for the first time in the UK. Applicants will not need to be graduates and will not need to have secured any initial funding for this category. Successful applicants will be granted 2 years’ leave and will be able to progress into the Innovator category to continue developing their businesses in the UK after that time.
The Innovator Visa replaced the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa in March 2019. The Innovator category is intended for more experienced businesspeople. As well as an endorsement, applicants will need a minimum of £50,000 investment in their business idea from any legitimate source.
The funding requirement reduced from £200,000 for most applicants in the current Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category. The funding requirement will be waived for those switching from the Start-up category who have made significant achievements against their business plans. The category may lead to settlement in the UK.
In order to benefit from the either the Start-up or the Innovator categories, applicants must apply for and secure endorsement by a business sponsor, who will assess the applicant’s business idea for their innovation, viability and scalability.
Originality will be the most important factor for these categories. The business plan must demonstrate that the product, service and/or its promotion is genuinely innovative, inventive and original. The idea can be for a new or an existing market need but must create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Viability is key and the applicant must have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business. The business itself must demonstrate that it can maintain cash flow until profitability.
The business idea must be scalable and demonstrate that there will be potential contribution to the UK economy in the form of job creation and planning for growth into national and international markets.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
Once you have been granted with the Innovator Visa and successfully established your business for 3 years, you may be eligible to apply for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) provided you satisfy at least two of the following conditions:
1. At least £50,000 has been invested and spent in
2. The business has created at least 10 full time jobs for resident workers
3. The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full time jobs for resident workers with an annual salary of £25,000 per person
4. The business has generated a gross revenue of at least
5. The number of the business’ customers has at least doubled in the 3 years and is higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services
6. The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK
7. The business is generating at least £500,000 in revenue with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas
A Sole Representative Visa is designed for representatives of overseas companies who are seeking to establish a commercial presence through a wholly owned subsidiary or a new registered branch in the UK.
If you have an overseas business or you are employed by one, this is a very appealing and more importantly, an accessible route to setting up a presence in the UK.
Some of the requirements for the applicant are:
1. Must be a senior employee of the overseas company
2. Recruited overseas by the parent company
3. Given full authority to take all operational decisions on behalf of the parent company
4. The UK establishment must carry out the same type of business activities as the parent company
5. Meet the English language requirement at A1 level
If the applicant meets all the requirements of this category, they will be permitted to reside in the UK for an initial period of 3 years and 4 months. The applicant will then be able to apply to extend their stay for another 2 years if they fully comply with the requirements of the visa.
Once they have been in the UK for a given period, (currently 5 years) the applicant will then be able to apply for a permission to settle permanently.
The most attractive benefits of this category include a no minimum investment requirement like the Tier 1 (Investor) Programme. The applicant and their immediate family members will be permitted to reside in the UK and the English language requirement only needs to be at elementary level.
Upon achieving permanent residency after 5 years, the applicant will not have any restrictions on employment. This benefit is significant for applicants should they wish to take on another business venture or employment.
To apply for a Tier 2 visa, you must be a skilled worker from outside the European Economic Area and have a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK employer who holds a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence.
It helps UK registered entities to attract unique talent and skills from abroad in order to help improve the workforce in the UK.
Tier 2 consists of four different categories:
this category is for all foreign nationals who have been offered a skilled job to fill a gap in the workforce which cannot be filled by an already settled UK or EU worker. There are a number of complex scenarios which should be discussed and explored in detail before you can apply.
Intra Company Transfers
This route is for multinational companies based overseas that wish to transfer their existing staff from a country outside the EEA to the UK branch of the same company.
There are two types of transfers, one is the long term with the prerequisite that you have already worked for your employer overseas for at least 12 months, or, you earn a salary of more than £73,900 a year.
The other type is for graduates who are involved in the graduate training scheme for the company for specialist roles. You must have held three months experience with your employer overseas to qualify.
This category is for highly skilled sportspersons who must be recognised by a governing body as an elite sports person or a sports coach. The applicant must demonstrate that their employment in the UK will encourage the sport to become more elite and prominent in the UK.
Ministers of Religion
Individuals can benefit from this category to practice their faith in communities within the UK. Other roles include Missionary or Member of a Religious Order.
Under all of the above categories, you must have passed an English language test that is still within its validity period. If you are applying under General or Minister of Religion categories, you must have achieved the appropriate level in all four components (writing, speaking, reading and listening).
If you are applying under the Sportsperson category, you only need to have achieved the appropriate level in the speaking and listening components.
UK businesses can employ non-EEA citizens provided they hold a UK Border Agency (UKBA) Sponsor Licence. Once a company obtains the Sponsor Licence, it will then be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship which are required as part of each non-EEA individual's immigration application under the Tier 2 Skilled Workers category.
Sponsorship plays two main roles in an application for permission to come to, or remain in, the UK to work:
A. It provides evidence that the applicant will fill a genuine vacancy that cannot be filled with a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker; and
B. It involves a pledge from the sponsor that it accepts all of the duties expected when sponsoring the migrant
When considering the Sponsorship Licence application, the UKBA will look to establish four main things:
1. Is your business a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK? You must provide certain documents to prove.
2. Is your business honest, dependable and reliable?
3. Is the business capable of carrying out the sponsor duties and evidence compliance in a specific time frame and manner?
4. If you are applying under Tier 2 (General), can the business offer genuine employment that meets the Tier 2 (General) skill level and appropriate rates of pay?
The process of applying for a Sponsorship Licence can be lengthy and frustrating for businesses without the right guidance and advice.
Bridge Partners has dealt with a number of businesses to obtain their Sponsorship Licence in the UK. With the right advice, your business could also have the necessary permissions to expand the workforce and skillset for your business.
Under the spouse or partner visa category, a partner of a British national or a person who is settled in the UK can apply for leave to enter or leave to remain in the UK subject to meeting the requirements of this category.
These requirements include, knowledge of the English language, requirement to evidence a genuine and subsisting relationship and the ability to meet the financial requirement.
If all of these requirements are met, entry clearance visas are issued for an initial period of 2.5 years and can be extended for a further 2.5 years.
Upon completion of 5 years under this category, you may be eligible to apply for settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain as the settled person's partner.
Additionally, children of the marriage/partnership who are under 18 years of age can also be granted entry to the UK as dependants along with the main applicant.
If you are married to a British Citizen and you meet the conditions of your stay, you may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship on completion of the 3 year period in the UK.
Bridge Partner has many years of experience in dealing with spouse and partner visa applications. We have successfully assisted many entry clearance and in-country applications under this category.
If you have spent the required length of time in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.
Based on 2 and 3 years stay
If you have lived in the UK as a Tier 1 (Investor) migrant under the accelerated route (i.e. you have made a minimum investment of £10m), then you may be eligible for ILR after two years of being resident in the UK.
If you have lived in the UK as an Innovator or a Tier 1 (Investor) migrant under the accelerated route (i.e. you have made a minimum investment of £5m), then you may be eligible for ILR after three years of being resident in the UK.
Based on five years stay
If you have lived in the UK under work permit and various business categories, you may be eligible for ILR after five continuous years in the UK on that visa. In some cases, you may be able to combine different types of working visas. Dependants may also be able to apply for ILR along with the visa holder.
Based on ten years continuous lawful residence
If you have spent ten continuous years in the UK lawfully, without any significant gaps between your grants of leave,
you may be able to apply for ILR in the UK on that basis. Dependants cannot apply under this type of permanent residence visa scheme.
Based on spouse/civil partner/unmarried partner visa
If you hold a family visa on the basis of a family relationship with a person present and settled in the UK, such as a spouse/civil partnership visa or unmarried partner visa, you may eventually qualify for ILR.
Bridge Partners has assisted several applicants with all types of ILR applications. These applications can be complex and will often need expert guidance and assistance with their application. We can help you throughout the process and guide you on the most appropriate and suitable application.