Currently there are three key immigration routes for businesses and investors looking to expand into the UK.
Post the decision to leave the EU, the UK Government is keen to grow its non-EU trade relationships. Given that UK sterling has been trading much lower against most currencies since June 2016, foreign investors are also getting more for their money in the UK and at the July 2017 G20 summit, British Prime Minister May and President Trump expressed the shared aim of quickly agreeing a trade deal post-Brexit.
The three immigration routes listed below are specifically designed to facilitate investment in the UK whether by businesses or high-net-worth individuals – and most offer a route to permanent residence.
Representative of an Overseas Business
In a nutshell: the Representative of an Overseas Business route has many advantages for a non-UK business looking to send a senior employee to establish its presence in the UK.
- no minimum financial investment requirement;
- no cap on the number of such visas;
- comparatively few requirements; and
- once the business is established in the UK other employees can be brought over if the business obtains a Sponsor License.
- the overseas business must have no existing UK presence;
- the application must be made from outside Europe; and
- the employee being sent must have extensive related industry experience, cannot be a major shareholder in the company and must have sufficient funds to support him/herself for the trip.
In a nutshell: if you are a high-net-worth individual looking to relocate to and invest in the UK, the Tier 1 Investor route has the fewest requirements and can lead to settlement in the quickest time.
It has other advantages, including:
- once in the UK the applicant can work or study as they wish;
- the applicant can become settled in 5 years; this can be shortened to 3 years if they invest £5,000,000; in 2 years if they invest £10,000,000; and
- no English language requirement.
- applicants must invest at least £2,000,000 in the UK within 3 months of the visa being issued or arrival. The investment must be maintained throughout the life of the visa;
- any investments made in the UK, not including property, can count towards the investment sum; and
- in order to settle the applicant cannot be outside the UK for more than 180 days in any one year.
In a nutshell: the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route opens the door for those with access to a smaller sum than under the Investor route, but the drive and ideas to make a business work.
- applicants must generally have £200,000 to invest in their own business, and provide evidence of access to funds. They can rely on money that they have invested in a UK business in the previous 12 months;
- they have to submit a detailed business plan and satisfy the Home Office that it is a genuine business proposal;
- they can work for their own business but cannot work for anybody else; and
- they also have to satisfy the English language requirement.