Monthly Archives: May 2016

EU Referendum – The Essentials of Both Sides of the Debate

Last week two events dominated the EU In/Out Campaign. One involved Emily Wood, a music producer from Poole, who furiously revealed her mother had been shunted down the housing list by officials who prioritise immigrants, demanding: “Where are we going to put them all?” 

The second development which was hijacked by Leave campaigners was the release of figures from the Office of National Statistics which showed net migration to the UK rose to 333,000 in 2015, the second highest figure on record.

Immigration has been the most hotly debated topic surrounding the EU Referendum, which is to be held in less than a month.

In a passionate response to Miss Wood, Alex Salmond, former leader of the Scottish National Party, stated, “If we have a housing shortage we should build more houses, not kick people out of the country”.

Responding to the news that net migration has increased, Leave supporter and London Mayor, Boris Johnson, stepped up his bitter war of words with Prime Minister David Cameron, stating that the Government was cynical to claim it could control immigration while inside the EU and the new figures exposed the “scandal” of Cameron’s broken election pledge to slash numbers.

With the pressure mounting, it can be hard to see the wood from the trees when it comes to viewing both sides of the In/Out Referendum arguments. Here is our best shot at laying down each sides’ claims in an objective manner, so you can make up your own mind on how to use your vote on 23rd June 2016.

Arguments for Leaving the EU
  • Trade – Europe is our biggest trading partner, with around 30% of Britain’s total GDP coming from importing and exporting goods and services to the Continent. Negotiations for new bi-lateral trade agreements could take many years, and during this time, exporters especially, could suffer major losses; due to investment in trade-related activities being put on hold and fluctuations in the value of the pound.
  • Immigration – Remain campaigners argue that EU migrants contribute millions of pounds to the UK economy. Not only do they provide valuable labour in industries such as agriculture and construction, where margins are tight and keeping wages low is imperative for business survival, but they staff hospitals and schools. Migrants also start new ventures which create jobs for British people (according to statistics, migrants set up one in seven new companies launched in the UK).
  • UK Citizens Living Abroad – Free movement works both ways. Approximately 1.4 million UK citizens reside in the EU and enjoy access to healthcare and other public services. Leaving the EU could put in jeopardy the rights of British citizens who have made new lives for themselves in Spain, France or Italy.
  • Easy Extraditions – The European Arrest Warrant replaced long extradition procedures and enables the UK to extradite criminals wanted in other EU countries, and bring to justice criminals wanted in the UK who are hiding in other EU countries.
  • Cheap Plonk – Leaving the EU would be catastrophic for those who enjoy a glass of Spanish red or Burgundy white. On leaving the EU, the price of imported wine could jump by a third. Imported cars, mobile phone roaming fees and flights are also likely to increase.
Arguments for Leaving the EU
  • The Ability to Create New Trade Agreements – Trying to balance the needs and desired of 28 separate countries with vastly different cultures can make it slow and difficult to negotiate new trade agreements. Outside the EU, Britain would be free to work out deals with Canada, Australia, China, and other emerging markets such as Brazil, on its own terms, quickly and efficiently.
  • Controlling our Borders – Outside of the EU and its principle of free movement, Britain could control the number of EU citizens coming to the UK to find employment by introducing work permits and setting minimum requirements that must be met (such as a good knowledge of English) before a visa is granted.
  • Sovereignty – Leave campaigners argue that leaving the EU will allow Britain to regain its sovereignty. Far from being right-winged hooey, they state that the European Commission, which is unelected, has the monopoly of proposing all EU legislation which it does in secret. It also has the power to issue regulations which are automatically binding in all member states.
  • Saving money – Leaving the EU would mean Britain would not have to pay a membership fee. In 2015, the UK paid a net sum of £8.5bn to Brussels, equivalent to 7% of the NHS budget.
  • Brussels is a bureaucratic basket-case – From wasting £760,000 for a "gender equal" cultural centre which was never built, to a complete inability to manage the migrant crisis, those who want to leave the EU state that Britain needs to control how it makes its own decisions. As the crisis in Greece clearly highlighted, monetary union without political union is destined to fail – meaning for the EU to work, closer integration between countries is required, something the Leave camp is completely horrified by.

How will the vote go? Polls show support for remaining in the EU is ahead….but only just.

We will keep you posted.

Based in Birmingham and London, UK Migration Lawyers is one of Britain’s premiere immigration law firms. If you have any concerns or questions about how the EU Referendum could affect your immigration status, please phone our office on 0121 777 7715.

Investor Visa Route to End December 2017
Investors Encouraged to Apply Now

In December 2017, the Tier 1 Investor Visa will be withdrawn as a means to enter and reside in the UK. This will be a blow, not only to foreign investors who want to extend their portfolio to the UK market, but for UK businesses who rely on foreign capital to grow.

The Investor Visa, as it is now, provides a wealth of advantages to applicants who have £2 million to invest in Britain’s stable and robust markets. Unique benefits include:

  • there is no need to meet English language requirements, provide business plans, be a certain age or have a certain level of education
  • dependents (a spouse or children under 18 years) can enter and reside in the UK
  • travel in and out of the country is unrestricted
  • an applicant’s spouse is able to seek employment
  • property can be purchased immediately
  • applicants can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years (or less depending on the amount invested)
  • applicants can apply for British Citizenship one year after being granted ILR

For high-net-worth individuals, the Tier 1 Investor Visa is the most flexible, expedient way to conduct business in the UK.

If the Investor Visa is working so well, why withdraw it?

Fear of allowing in those whose wealth was obtained by dubious means seems to be the driving factor for ending the Investor route, along with the visa developing a reputation as being a way for the super-rich to ‘buy a European passport’.

In 2014, the Investor Visa was subjected to significant reform; the most important being the requirement of £1 million in investment funds being raised to £2 million.

Other changes included:

  • a requirement that all £2 million had to be invested (previously 25 percent of the funds could be put into UK property in which the applicant could reside)
  • applicants can no longer borrow any of the funds
  • applicants can now be refused if immigration officers have reasonable grounds to believe the funds were obtained unlawfully or if they have concerns about the character and conduct of the party “providing the funds”

These reforms saw a substantial drop in the number of high-net-worth individuals applying for an Investor Visa, and we believe that there are enough safeguards in place to prevent ‘dirty money’ coming into the UK via the Investor route.

A vast majority of enquiries we receive regarding the Investor Visa are from people who see opportunities, not just to expand their investment portfolio, but to take advantage of the first-class education, cultural opportunities and stable political and economic environment that the UK is renowned for.

The need for fast action

Wealth managers, advisors and other high-net-worth intermediaries need to act now and advise their clients on the withdrawal of the Investor Visa in a mere 19 months’ time.

The required £2 million may take some time to accrue as all funds must be owned and not borrowed. Clients also need to be advised that at the time of application these funds must have been in the applicant’s account for 90 days which brings the deadline much closer. Any investigations by the UK Border Agency may also prolong the process.

Expert legal advice

The withdrawal of the Tier 1 Investor Visa has raised a sense of urgency among investors. The downturn in emerging markets has forced high-net-worth individuals to return to the more stable UK and US markets. Britain is predicted to become the world’s fourth largest economy over the next two decades, and the European Union generates a GDP of around €14.3 trillion (2014). This figures, taken together with the advantages a Tier 1 Investor Visa has to offer applicants, means advisors should be informing their clients of the changes as soon as possible. This will allow time for successful applications to be made.

The amount of capital involved and the complexities of the UK immigration system make it imperative that experienced legal advice is sought before applying for an Investor Visa. At UK Migration Lawyers, we have years of experience guiding high-net-worth individuals through the application process. We also work with wealth managers, real-estate advisors and other professionals who can assist with school placements and finding domestic help, both in and outside London.

To make an appointment or enquire further phone our office on 0121 777 7715.

UK Migration Lawyers is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 497640). Accredited immigration Law Solicitors. UK Migration Lawyers Ltd. / All rights reserved. Company Registration No 06702262 / Registered in England and Wales.