Category Archives: Visas

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In December 2017, the Tier 1 Investor Visa will be withdrawn as a means to enter and reside in the UK.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 Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa – The Essentials

As mentioned in my previous article, the UK (Investor) Visa is going the way of the Dodo – due to become extinct in December 2017. For people who have money to invest and a viable business plan, the Tier One (Entrepreneur) Visa provides an alternative way to successfully enter the UK market.

Migrant entrepreneurs make an overwhelming contribution to the UK economy. As of March 2014 there were nearly 3.2 million companies active in Britain, with migrants as founders or co-founders of 464,527, equivalent to 14.5 percent of the total. Furthermore, migrant entrepreneurs are responsible for creating over 1.1 million jobs in Britain.

The UK has one of the strongest economies in the world. This, along with a thriving tech sector attracts hundreds of dynamic entrepreneurs to the country every year.

However, statistics show that the refusal rate for the entrepreneur route is high. This can be partly explained by the toughening up on requirements and the introduction of the “genuine entrepreneur test”, which is the UK Government’s response to counter abuse under this immigration category.

Eligibility Requirements

Unlike the UK Investor Visa, where the only substantial requirements are;

a) have a lot of money (£2 million or more); and
b) make sure the money is clean

the entrepreneur route is more taxing in its requirements.

To qualify an applicant must show:

  • access to either £50,000 or £200,000 in investment funds held in a regulated financial institution
  • they speak English
  • they are able to support themselves
  • they score at least 95 points on the Points Based System (PBS)
  • they are 16 years or older
Access to £50,000

To apply, the £50,000 must come from one of the following sources:

  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)
  • a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business
  • a venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Access to £200,000

Having £200,000 provides more flexibility as to the source of the funds. To apply the money must be either:

  • the applicants own funds
  • made available to the applicant by other people (‘third parties’), eg a husband, wife, partner or investor
  • in a joint account with a spouse or partner but only if they aren’t applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa

Applicants must also provide evidence of a clear, comprehensive business plan.

Dependent family members (a spouse and children under 18 years) are entitled to accompany an entrepreneur but they must acquire their own visa if they are from outside the EEA.

The ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test

Introduced in January 2013, the ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test is both subjective and strict, making it a challenge to pass. Applicants must prove they can start a sustainable business in the UK by providing a detailed business plan and attending interviews with Home Office staff.

Whilst not quite on par with facing Lord Sugar on The Apprentice, applicants face a challenge in that the interviewing panel are unlikely to know anything about the applicant’s business. Therefore, candidates applying for an Entrepreneur Visa need to:

a) provide clear evidence that they have the knowledge and experience required to run a business in their chosen industry;
b) have a comprehensive business plan, showing that the necessary market research has been done and financial numbers crunched, proving it is a viable venture;
c) explain clearly via the business plan or at an interview that they understand the business, their place within it, the market and how to manage finances;

if you desire any chance of succeeding with your application.

And the application procedure is set to become even tougher. In March 2015, the Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (the MAC) to review the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa category.  The MAC made a number of recommendations aimed at making the process for gaining the visa even more stringent.

The recommendations include:

  • allowing third-party endorsements of the applicant and business plan from the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)-approved accelerators to endorse individual applicants
  • the ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test should be conducted by industry experts rather than civil servants
  • the £200,000 threshold should continue to apply to deter low-quality applications
  • the £50,000 could be lowered as some start-ups require low capital investment initially
  • the Government could work with UKTI and the UK Business Angels Association to explore the feasibility of approving selected angel investor networks or syndicates to provide third party endorsement
  • a greater emphasis should be placed on the applicant’s track record in business as opposed to the feasibility of the business plan
  • successful applicants should be required to report on the success of their business to the Home Office to show they are actively growing their venture

The Government is currently reviewing these recommendations.

Getting to ‘Go’

People with the tenacity and drive to launch a new venture in a foreign country do not want their plans delayed by Government red tape. Those applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa should seek expert legal advice on the process. Obtaining legal guidance on how to assemble a business plan that will satisfy Home Office staff and getting advice on preparing for interviews help applicants achieve thier commercial goals swiftly.

At UK Migration Lawyers, we have years of experience guiding high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs in successfully applying for a UK Entrepreneur Visa.

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

Short Term UK Visas: Legal Changes to Keep in Mind

UK Migration Lawyers are one of the UK’s leading Immigration Solicitors. If you are looking for a short-term visitor visa our team has put together a post that explains what you need to know. When you are ready to arrange your short-term visitor visa get in touch on 0121 777 7715.

Looking for a short-term visitor visa for a UK visit? In the past, there were several separate short-term visit visas that applied to different groups of visitors with differing rules and eligibility criteria. These included:

  • The Standard Visitor visa
  • Marriage Visitor visa
  • Parents of Tier Four Student Visa Holders visa
  • Permitted Paid Short-term Engagement visa
  • Student Visitors visa
  • Visitors in Transit visa

Needless to say, all of these opportunities created much confusion. To make the rules clearer and to simplify the visa application process, the government has now replaced all of the six above-mentioned short-term stay visas with the single Standard Visitor visa. Here’s everything that you need to know about these changes and how they will affect you.

Who can Apply for a Standard Visitor Visa?

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you plan to visit the UK for leisure (ie. tourism and sightseeing, visiting a friend), for business or for another private reason (such as to receive medical treatment).

There are certain categories of visitor who may be exempt from having to apply for a standard visitor visa at all and our expert immigration legal team can advise you if you fall into this category. The specific eligibility requirements for those who do require a Standard Visitor visa, however, differ depending on your circumstances and our expert team can provide comprehensive advice specific to your situation.

In essence, the Standard Visitor visa has replaced all of the six short-term visas mentioned above, as well as a couple of other visas previously available like:

  • Sports Visitor visa
  • Entertainer Visitor visa
  • Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa
  • Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa

A general rule of thumb is that if you’re planning to visit the UK for less than six months and you normally reside in a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you will likely need a Standard Visitor visa. Rules do vary depending on the country in which you are normally resident and, once again, our expert team can advise you.

Applying for a Standard Visitor Visa

As part of your application, you’ll be required to visit a Visa Application Centre in your country where your photograph, fingerprints and signature will be taken digitally. This biometric process only takes 5 minutes and there is no ink or mess involved.

Our team can help you find the closest Visa Application Centre to you, making it easier for you to plan this hassle free process. People who are already in the UK on a Standard Visitor visa may be eligible to apply for an extension without leaving the country in exceptional circumstances.

Bear in mind that there’s a standard processing fee of £85 (correct at the time of writing) and a further fee if you wish to extend your visa. A decision about your Standard Visitor visa status will usually be made within three weeks of your visit to the Visa Application Centre and the submission of the necessary documents.

In order for your application for a Standard Visitor visa to have the greatest chance of success, it is important that you provide ample supporting documentation with your application that provides comprehensive evidence that you meet the eligibility requirements for this visa. Our expert legal team can guide you through the complex array of documentation that must accompany your application, taking into account your full travel and immigration history.

All of the original documents you provide will be sent back to you after your visa application has been examined. During your visit to the Visa Application Centre, you may also be asked to provide some additional information that isn’t backed up by documents. Some of the additional information could include dates of previous UK entry and departure, where you’ll be staying during this visit, your current address and your current income level.

A Few Additional Factors to Keep in Mind

A Standard Visitor visa allows you to stay in the UK for a period of up to six months. There are options available, however, if you need to visit the UK more frequently and regularly over a longer period without having to apply for a new Standard Visitor visa for each trip. Long-term multiple entry visit visas allow you to make multiple visits to the UK of up to 6 months at a time over a time period of 1, 2, 5 or 10 years.

Successfully applying for a long-term multiple entry Standard Visit visa is complex and our expert legal team will ensure that your application and supporting documentation demonstrate that you have a credible ongoing reason to visit, that your personal and economic situation is unlikely to change and that your travel and immigration history shows previous compliance with immigration rules.

While in the UK on a Standard Visitor visa, you’re not allowed to work or earn an income. You are also ineligible to receive public funds, to marry a partner in the country or or to live in the UK for extended periods of time by acquiring multiple Standard Visitor visas.

If you need to stay in the UK for a longer period of time, you should either apply for a long-term visa or provide information that a medical treatment or another reason why you’re visiting the country will necessitate a state that will exceed six months.

Getting Started

For the best chance of success in your application for a Standard Visitor visa, or even if you just want to know that this is the right visa for you, call our expert immigration legal team today.

With a wealth of knowledge and experience, our expert immigration legal team will simplify every part of the application process and guide you away from the hidden dangers and pitfalls that litter this seemingly simple application. Our success rate is market leading and is why, time after time, our clients come back to us for their immigration needs.

Call our expert immigration legal team today 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.