Making sense of UK immigration

So why is the UK a great place to come and how do you relocate?

The UK is a premier location for those wishing to migrate to pastures new. There are a number of reasons for this including  business opportunities, education, investment opportunities, multi-cultural society and healthcare.

London’s popularity has significantly grown with Tripadvisor customers ranking it the best city in the world. London is at the heart of creative thinking and entrepreneurial ideas. The US has Silicon Valley, however the UK has technology hubs scattered across the country. Areas such as ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in Old Street, ‘Silicon Fen’ in Cambridge and the ‘Silicon M4 corridor’. There are numerous opportunities for success.

Advances in business and technology, driven in recent years by young hungry entrepreneurs opening start-ups, is at the heart of this revolution. Specific companies have arisen just to help in the early stages of business development.

Our clients often ask us which application is most appropriate for their situation. This article is intended to provide a little insight into those options.

Are you British?

Many with British ancestral connections have British citizenship without realising it. If you were born in the UK before 1983 or one of your parents was born in the UK and you were born abroad then you are likely to have British citizenship.

The Law around this aspect is complex so read our specific information on it here.

Are you or your family members EU nationals?

EU citizens currently have the right to reside in the UK. However, the UK plans to leave the EU on 31st October 2019. A date that has changed many times over the months.

We cannot be sure as to the rules on movement of people until after we officially leave the EU. The guidance from government is that there is to be a transitional arrangement. EU citizens and family members continue to have the right to live, study, work and access benefits until 31st December 2020.

Are you married to a British citizens?

If your spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner is British then you can apply for a spouse visa.

There are some important requirements to this though: you will need to meet the financial obligations, job offer and have the requisite English language skills. The financial requirements increase depending on the number of applicants. Applications for spouse visas usually take between three and 12 weeks.

Are you looking to work in the UK?

To work in the UK you must have a firm job offer from a registered sponsored business. There are roles that you are unlikely to get an employment visa, such as: manual, administrative or clerical roles.

If a UK employer has offered you a job then great. However, they may need to apply for a sponsorship license under the Tier 2 (General) category. To become a sponsor, the business should demonstrate they have appropriate HR systems, policies and procedures. They must also prove they are a trading company that complies with the regulations.

This visa type can be obtained for up to five years. Further, your partner and children can be added to your application. After 5 years of employment, while spending the requisite number of days in the UK, you qualify for permanent residency.

Does your company wish to transfer you to a UK office?

If your company does not have an office but wants to move into the UK market then they can setup a subsidiary here using a Sole Representative visa. However, the individual cannot be a major shareholder of the business but has to have the ability to make commercial decisions for the company. This route allows individuals to stay in the UK for three years and can be extended for an additional two years. After, those five years they may apply for permanent residency.

If you are currently employed and your company has a UK office, which they need you to be transferred to. This is done using a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visa. The UK office would need to have a Tier 2 sponsor license.

Would you like to study in the UK?

The UK houses some of the world’s top educative institutions. Universities such as Oxford and Cambridge are regularly considered as two of the most prestigious institutions for education.

If you are looking at a graduate or post graduate University course, you need a Tier 4 Student visa. This category allows you to bring your partner and children. Dispensation is given in some instances allowing you to work part-time while you study or allowing your partner to work.

Course fees are more expensive for foreign students and you need to factor in accommodation fees.

Are you setting up a business?

If you are a graduate then there is a start-up visa option. The Start-Up Visa is designed specifically to encourage more growth in areas such as tech. It is intended to help foreign ambitious graduate talent to invest here in the UK. If a graduate has a business idea and can get an endorsement for that idea then they can setup a start-up company.

If you are not a graduate then there is an innovator visa option. Your business or business idea must be assessed by one of the endorsing bodies and they provide a letter to state that the business is viable. The idea must be deemed innovative. You need £50,000 of investment, your funding can come from any source though. If are switching or your business is already established and endorsed on a previous Visa then you do not need the investment funds.

You partner and children under the age of 18 years old can be included in your application.

There are currently calls to adapt this as it has been difficult for the endorsing bodies.

Are you looking to invest?

If you have £2 million available to invest in the UK then you can apply for the Tier 1 (Investor) visa. If you have been gifted the funds, then you should have had access to them for three months prior to the application. You need to prove the source of the funds.

The investment needs to be made into qualifying funds and cannot be invested as you please. We have partnership with financial advisers that can discuss this aspect with you.

As an investor, you can work in the UK and bring your partner and children under the age of 18. After 5 years of living in the UK, if you meet the criteria you can apply for permanent residency.

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