UK Business Immigration

15 Mar 2016

Our experience
The following examples of our experience are provided to give you a flavour of the type of work on which we regularly advise:
 We advised an ultra high net worth family from South Africa on the Tier 1 (Investor) scheme.
 We advised a leading family from India on the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) scheme.
 We regularly assist International Banks on intra-company transfers of staff to the UK.
 We also receive instructions from a wide range of clients on the acquisition of British citizenship.
 We advise UK corporations on obtaining Sponsor Licences and on Sponsor Compliance.

Tier 1 immigration process – Entrepreneurs
Who can apply
The Entrepreneur route is for those applicants wishing to set up or take over a business (or
businesses) in the UK that they will be actively involved in running.

Key Points:
 The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category applies to the main applicant and all immediate family members, including spouse and children under the age of 18.
 Initially, the entrepreneur visa is granted for three years and four months and can then be extended for another two years.
 Applicants in the first category are eligible to apply for British citizenship after having spent 6 years in the country.
 Those who create ten jobs or achieve an annual turnover of £5 million a year are eligible to apply after 5 years of residence in the UK provided that the business established has generated two full-time jobs or equivalent for qualifying employees and has maintained tax and other financial records. In addition, the required funds must have been invested in one or more qualifying UK businesses.

Key Requirements:
 To make a successful entrepreneur visa application, applicants are required to score sufficient points based on the funds that are available to them to invest, their English Language ability and by having enough money for their living costs in the UK (maintenance), as well as passing the
Home Office “Genuine Entrepreneur” test.
 Applicants need to have access to either:

 At least £200,000
o All of the above funds need to have been held in one or more regulated financial institutions for at least ninety days prior to the application.
o All of the above funds need to be available for spending in the United Kingdom.

 At least £50,000 from:
o 1 or more registered venture capital firms regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority;
o 1 or more UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions listed as endorsed on the UK Trade and Investment website; or
o 1 or more UK government departments, which have made the funds available for the specific purpose of establishing or expanding a UK business.

Maintenance (living costs) + NHS Surcharge:
 In addition to the funds required for investment they need to show personal funds to satisfy the UK Border Agency that they will be able to pay for their own living costs. In addition, each individual and family member must pay £200 (Two Hundred Pounds Sterling) per year as the
NHS Surcharge for use of the National Health Service until settlement is obtained.

Time spent in UK:
 The applicant must spend one hundred and eighty five days per year in the UK until the acquisition of indefinite leave to remain. Citizenship normally requires an average two hundred and seventy five days per year in the UK.

N.B. Druces can assist with all aspects of the application process for Tier 1 entrepreneur visa applicants.


Tier 1 immigration process – Investors
Who can apply:

 The Investor route is for those who wish to invest capital in the United Kingdom as a passive investment.

Key Points:
 The applicant must have access to at least £2,000,000 (Two Million Pounds Sterling) in investment funds to apply.
 There is no requirement to demonstrate English Language ability. Work, study and business activity is permitted. (Subject to certain conditions).
 The applicant must have opened a qualifying UK Bank Account prior to the date of the application.
 With the £2,000,000 investment threshold it takes 5 years to achieve indefinite leave to remain (ILR), with the £5,000,000 threshold it takes 3 years to achieve ILR and with the £10,000,000 threshold it is 2 years to achieve ILR.
 The applicant will be issued with an initial visa for 3 years and 4 months and can apply to extend this visa for another 2 years.

Time spent in UK:
 The number of days that the applicant is permitted to spend outside of the UK is 180 days per year. Applicants who have invested £2,000,000 are eligible to apply for British citizenship after having spent 6 years in the country, while those who have invested £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 are eligible to apply after 5 years of residence in the UK.
 It is very important to note that the residence requirement for becoming a British citizen is very different to that which has to be met when applying for ILR.
 Whilst a Tier 1 (investor) migrant can spend up to 180 days out of every 12 month period they live in the UK abroad without jeopardising their eligibility for settlement, when it comes to applying for British citizenship, they must not have spent more than 450 days out of the UK during the 5 year qualifying period, and no more than 90 days during the final 12 months of this.

What can you invest in:
The applicant can:
 invest £2,000,000 or more in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies (other than property companies)
 work or study (subject to certain conditions)
 apply to settle after 2 years if you invest £10 million

 apply to settle after 3 years if you invest £5 million

The applicant cannot:
 invest in companies mainly engaged in property investment, property management or property development
 work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach, or as a Doctor or Dentist in training
 get public funds

The applicant and family members must pay the NHS Surcharge calculated at £200 (Two Hundred Pounds Sterling) each year for each individual until indefinite leave to remain is obtained.

Important rules that must be followed:
The applicant must:
 be 18 or over to apply for this visa
 be able to prove that the money belongs to either them or their husband, wife, unmarried or same-sex partner
 have opened a UK bank account

The funds must be:
 held in one or more regulated financial institutions
 free to spend (‘disposable’) in the UK

The money can be held in the UK or overseas when the applicant applies, provided it can legally be transferred to the UK.

N.B. Druces can assist with all aspects of the application process for Tier 1 investor visa applicants.

Representative of an Overseas Business
Who can apply:

 The UK Immigration Rules allow an overseas Company, which has no branch, subsidiary, or other representative in the UK at the time of the application, to send one key individual to the UK to establish a branch or subsidiary of the parent Company.

Key Points:
 The chosen individual must be a key employee or Director of the parent Company, but cannot be the owner or majority shareholder of the Company.
 The representative has to be paid a reasonable UK salary in the UK by the parent Company and be given full powers to operate the UK branch or subsidiary as Managing Director.
 The UK branch or subsidiary has to operate in the same or similar line of business as the parent Company.
 There is no minimum capital requirement for this category, or requirement to employ any resident workers.
 There is an English language requirement with this application.

Length of visa:
 The initial visa is granted for an initial period of 3 years.
 Assuming that the conditions of the visa are met, the visa can be extended for a further 2 years.
 Once the individual has been in the UK for 5 years, he/she can apply for indefinite leave to remain.
 There is a requirement to spend at least 185 days per year in the UK under this category.
 The Applicant and his/her family must pay the NHS Surcharge until settlement is obtained.

British Citizenship:
 British citizenship may be applied for after 6 years of residence, provided that the applicant has been granted indefinite leave to remain and has held it for at least 1 year prior to the citizenship application. As per the other categories, the citizenship rules normally require the individual to have spent no more than 90 days on average outside the UK in each of the last 5 years prior to the application, with a strict requirement for 90 days in the last year.

N.B. Druces can assist with all aspects of the application process for representative of an overseas


Tier 2 immigration process – Skilled workers
Key points:

 UK employers must apply for and obtain a sponsor licence from UK Visas and Immigration before they can employ migrants under Tier 2.

N.B. Druces can assist with employers applications for Sponsor Licences

 Tier 2 visas are generally granted for three years and one month although a five year visa can bepurchased for a higher fee.
 The migrant has to be sponsored and earn enough points in order to come to the UK for work.
 Once the company (‘the Sponsor’) has issued the migrant with a Certificate of Sponsorship, the migrant must obtain entry clearance i.e. a visa before entering the UK.

When should Tier 2 be used:
Subject to the migrant being able to meet the points requirements and the role on offer being at a sufficient level, a Tier 2 visa can be used as follows:
 When no-one from the resident labour market can fill the particular vacancy;
 The vacancy is listed as an occupation where there is a skills shortage in the UK;
 The vacancy attracts a minimum salary, currently £155,300
 The applicant is moving to the UK as part of an intra-company transfer (ICT); or
 The applicant is switching from the Tier 4 (Student) category, having graduated in the UK

Points requirements:
A migrant applying under Tier 2 must score at least 70 points. The migrant must receive a minimum number of points in each of 3 categories.

Attributes (50 points required):
 This category covers things such as prospective salary and the basis of the appointment e.g. whether it is an intra-company transfer. 

English Language skills (10 points required):
 May be met by one of the following:

o By being a national of a prescribed list of English language speaking countries;
o By holding a degree which is taught in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree; or
o By passing an English language test (some exceptions for ICT transfers)

Maintenance (funds) (10 points required):
 The migrant must be able to show that they have at least £945 of cash funds available to support themselves and £630 for each dependent. They have to have held that amount continuously for 90 days.

Cap on number of Tier 2 migrants:
There is a current cap of 20,700 restricted Certificates to grant between April 2015 and April 2016 which is divided monthly.

Cooling-off period:
 When a Tier 2 migrant leaves the UK permanently they must remain out of the UK for 12 months.
 Three exceptions to this rule:

o If an intra-company transferee migrant comes to the UK as an intra-company transferee short-term established staff migrant and returns to the UK as an intracompany transferee long-term established staff migrant;
o If the employee will be earning at least £155,300;
o If the original Tier 2 Certificate is for 3 months or less.

Intra-company transfers:
 Where an employer wishes to move an individual from an entity overseas to an entity in the UK that is linked by common ownership, the sponsor does not need to conduct the resident labour market test, although they will still need to score enough points.
 The following can qualify for intra-company transfer:

o Short-term established staff;
o Long-term established staff;
o Graduate trainee;
o Skills transfer

Continuous residence:
 Tier 2 migrants will be granted up to a maximum of 6 years’ leave to remain in the UK and may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain once they have completed 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK, subject to certain conditions.

N.B. Druces can assist with all aspects of Tier 2 Visa applications, acting for either the migrant worker or the Company sponsoring migrant workers.


Tier 4 immigration process – Students
When do you need to apply:

 If you already have a UK visa in a non-study related category this may allow you to study.
 If you are coming to study for a maximum of six months (or eleven months if over 18 and taking an English language course) you may be able to enter as a ‘short-term student. However you will be highly restricted and will not be able to apply for an extension of your stay.

Who can apply:
You are eligible to apply for a student visa to study in the UK if:
 You are 16 years old or more;
 You have been offered a place at any school, college or university which has been granted a Tier 4 (General) sponsor licence by the Home Office;
 You can speak, read, write and understand English to a prescribed level;
 You have sufficient maintenance funds for yourself and sufficient funds to pay for the course;
 You are from outside the European Economic Area; and
 You meet the other eligibility requirements

How long can you stay:
 This depends on the type of course that you are studying
 You can make an application from up to three months prior to your course commencing.
 You should expect a decision within three weeks.

What you cannot do whilst in the UK on a Tier 4 visa:
Whilst in the UK on a Tier 4 visa you cannot:
 Get public funds;
 Work as a professional sportsperson;
 Work as a sports coach;
 Study at an academy
 Study at a local authority-funded school.

N.B. Druces can assist with all aspects of the application process for foreign (Non EEA) students to come and study in the UK.

Other categories
We are pleased to offer advice to our commercial clients on all other categories of business immigration to the UK, including the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa and other Tier 2 and Tier 5 categories.


Download Druces' Business Immigration Brochure

© 2023 Alliance of Business Lawyers. All rights reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy