The message is clear- the UK wants rich people!
The rich and entrepreneurial foreigners are being given an extra incentive to come to the UK as per the new rules announced by the UK Border Agency. A plethora of changes have been announced; one major change the UK Government has made is making settlement quicker for those individuals who are willing to pump in big investments into the UK.
As it stands now, investors qualify for settlement after five years if they have invested £1 million in the UK. The UK Border Agency has announced that they will accelerate the route to settlement for individuals who invest much larger sums of money in the UK. We are here talking about not a few hundred thousand pounds but millions of pounds. The criteria is as follows:-
- Individuals who invest £10 million or more in the UK will be able to apply for settlement after the investment is in place for two years.
- Individuals investing £5 million or more in the UK will be able to apply after the investment is in place for three years.
It is important to note that this right to accelerated settlement will apply to both investors who are already in the UK and have invested large sums, as well as those individuals who arrive after the changes take place.
Days of absence allowed from the UK
Another change which has been made by the UK Government for the investors is increase in the allowable absences from the UK i.e. from 90 days to 180 days in order for business people to manage their affairs abroad in a better manner.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa-Changes
The UK Border Agency has retained the minimum threshold of funding to £200,000 for individuals applying under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category. However, the existing £200,000 funding threshold has been reduced to £50,000 where an individual can provide evidence that the funding has been made available by a Venture Capitalist (VC), a Government Department or a Venture Seed Competition.
It is worth noting that up to two business partners will be able to use this route if they have equal access to the funding. Finally, successful entrepreneurs who create ten full time jobs or have a turnover of £5 million and above will be able to apply for settlement after three years.
Prospective Entrepreneur visa
The UK Government has announced that a new prospective entrepreneur visa will be introduced which will allow prospective entrepreneurs to come to the UK to secure funding they require to set up their businesses. Such individuals will be allowed to switch (change immigration status) into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category without having to leave the UK.
Update on the Tier 1 Exceptional talent visa
This new route (limited to 1000 visas per year) has been designed for those individuals who have already been recognised or have the potential to be recognised as leaders in the fields of science, arts and humanities.
Migrants seeking entry under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) will not need to be sponsored by an employer but will need to be endorsed by an accredited competent body. The UK Border Agency has confirmed that they will announce details of the competent bodies in the near future.
It will be for each competent body to select those who will qualify for endorsement. Under this category migrants will initially be granted permission to stay in the UK for three years and four months. They will then be able to extend their stay for a further two years, and to settle here after having lived five years in the UK.
Are these changes sustainable?
These changes no doubt favour the high net worth individuals who may be more likely to choose the UK as their preferred country to reside as the physical presence requirements have now been relaxed. The accelerated route to settlement is also an incentive for people ready to invest large sums of money.
The Government has however sidelined the proposed crackdown on student migration amongst cutting down other types of visas including the Post-work study category.
By bringing about these changes, the message is crystal clear i.e. this country remains open for rich people and businesses who can pump in millions. On the contrary the ever increasing tax rate is not so appealing to individuals and businesses alike.
It remains to be seen if this highly selective approach adopted by the Government is able to pull the UK out of the current economic crisis.
If you have any questions regarding the above or need to understand how these changes will affect you, please send an email to one of our London immigration lawyers or at firstname.lastname@example.org.