In today’s uncertain economic and geo-political times, it is more important than ever for parents to take steps to secure a high standard of education and a stable future for their children. The UK remains a popular location for study, work and ultimately, settlement, and offers several options for young people moving from study and into the next stage of life. While studying in the UK is a popular choice, with top universities such as Oxford and Cambridge attracting the most able overseas students, a student visa alone does not lead to settlement. As a result, it’s vital for parents to understand what the next steps are should they wish their children to settle in the UK for the next phase of life. In this article, we consider the advantages of the entrepreneur visa and the Investor Visa routes for settlement in the UK. We also highlight the benefits of engaging an experienced UK immigration lawyer to assist with any application you may be considering.
Studying in the UK is an attractive option for many young people. Many of the UK’s institutions are world-renowned and a degree from a UK university will give any student a head start in life. However, a student visa alone does not lead to settlement in the UK (known as ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’). As graduation approaches, the next step in securing a more stable future in the UK is to consider switching to a different visa route which does lead to settlement.
Students who wish to remain in the UK after their programme of study is finished, or to enter the UK, and get settlement can consider either the entrepreneur visa or Investor Visa route as strong contenders for securing a future in the UK. These are both popular options for individuals with money to invest in the UK. Depending on available capital, it is open to parents to gift sufficient funds to their children which will allow them to apply for one or other of these visas.
Switching to the entrepreneur visa route
The UK’s entrepreneur visa route is for those who can satisfy an investment threshold plus certain eligibility criteria relating to the business to be established in the UK. There are 2 levels of investment - £50,000 and £200,000. The UK’s immigration rules don’t allow for a visa switch from Tier 4 to Tier 1 entrepreneur within the UK at the £200,000 investment level. The application must be made from the applicant’s home country. However, many applicants find the eligibility requirements more straightforward to fulfil at this level. Fulfilling the eligibility requirements of the £50,000 investment is more complicated, but the individual can switch from a Tier 4 visa without returning to their country of origin to make his or her application.
The key to successfully securing an entrepreneur visa is the ability to demonstrate business experience. This can be a challenge for someone who has recently graduated, but should not be impossible, and an experienced lawyer may be able to support the development of an application by highlighting the transferable skills of the applicant. OTS Solicitors has recently secured a number of entrepreneur visas for clients in this way, focusing on transferable skills to demonstrate the client’s business acumen. The entrepreneur visa application must be supported by a well-developed business plan, and the applicant must be able to satisfy the UK Government’s English language requirements. Parents can also encourage their children in the UK on a Tier 4 student visa to take steps to demonstrate their genuine commitment to entrepreneurship by seeking work experience, or even paid work (subject to the rules of their student visa) in the sector they intend to set up in business if the entrepreneur visa is granted.
Securing accelerated settlement in the UK through the entrepreneur visa
Should the business (or businesses) that are established be successful to the point that certain milestones are achieved, settlement in the UK is available after only 3 years as opposed to 5 years, which is the usual timeframe. The relevant milestones are that
• the business or businesses established have created 10 new full-time jobs for workers settled in the UK; or
• the business income from the business activity of the new business is at least £5 million
These also apply if the entrepreneur has taken over a business rather than created a new business.
The individual must be registered as a director of the company at the UK’s Companies House or be registered as self-employed with the UK tax authorities.
The entrepreneur route offers a great option for those with £200,000 to invest in the UK and a solid business plan but may not be open to everyone considering settlement in the UK. The Investor Visa may be a more attractive option for those with more capital available.
Accelerated settlement under the Investor Visa route
For an investment of £2 million – to be invested in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies –settlement after 5 years is relatively straightforward to achieve. Although this is not ‘accelerated’ settlement, there is no need for a business plan, and equally, no English language requirement. Simply the investment of funds. If more funds are available to invest, an individual in the UK on an Investor Visa may qualify for a faster route to settlement. An investment of £5 million maintained over three years leads to settlement after three years, while an investment of £10 million maintained over two years can secure settlement after two years.
The Investor Visa route is a very attractive option for anyone considering accelerated settlement for their child in the UK – although it’s important for any potential applicant to be aware of the conditions that apply, both for the individual and for the funds that are to be invested. With respect to the latter, the funds to be invested must
• be under the control of the individual. If jointly owned with a spouse or partner, the applicant must enjoy unrestricted access to the funds;
• be held in a regulated UK financial institution; and
• be disposable in the UK
The applicant must open a UK regulated bank account and must also provide an overseas criminal record certificate for any country where they have lived continuously or cumulatively 12 months in the 10 years before the application. For a student recently graduated from a UK university, this is unlikely to be a problem.
Although there is no requirement to satisfy the English language standards on application for the Investor Visa, it is necessary to do so at the point the individual is applying for settlement.
Taking legal advice to secure accelerated settlement in the UK
Although both the entrepreneur route and investor route may appear straightforward routes to settlement in the UK, with all the benefits that it brings, the UK immigration rules are notoriously complex. Successful applications are most likely when high quality legal advice is sought early in the process. This is particularly the case for the entrepreneur visa: your lawyer will be able to advise you and your child on the documentation you will need to satisfy the genuine entrepreneur test. They will also be able to support your child in the run up to any interview that they may have to undergo before the entrepreneur visa can be granted. This is a stressful process and it is well worth having someone alongside to offer support, vital if the parents remain overseas through this process.
The rules surrounding the investor route can throw up some questions for those unfamiliar with the UK immigration system. The UK government is, understandably, keen to ensure the funds to be invested satisfy the criteria, and misunderstandings of the requirements and specified documents from the bank can lead to an Investor Visa being unnecessarily refused. With a child’s future at stake, taking time to ensure that the application meets all the requirements makes sense.
OTS Solicitors are highly respected and experienced UK Immigration Lawyers, based in London. They specialise in all aspects of personal and Business Immigration law as it applies in the UK, achieving success for their clients. To discuss the requirements and application process for a UK entrepreneur visa or Investor Visa with one of their experienced Immigration Lawyers, please contact +44 (0)203 959 9123, write to OTS Solicitors 25 Southampton Buildings London WC2A 1AL or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS Immigration Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.
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Posted on: Friday, 08 February, 2019