The UK immigration system is in a state of rapid change – the UK government has just published more details of the new “points-based” immigration system to make the UK “open for business” post-Brexit, making sure the new immigration rules will allow highly skilled migrants to come and take up employment in the UK.
There are also likely to be substantial societal changes in the post COVID world and individuals will look to the UK for investment and security. Whilst the UK government is in a state of change, the underlying security of living and investing in London continues to make it an attractive proposition for foreign investors and High Net Worth Individuals.
London continues to maintain a reputation as a playground for Ultra High Net Worth Individuals and there is no reason to believe this will change in the future.
London is very attractive to those looking for security. The legal system is fair and clear and allows individuals to protect assets from rivals and problematic regimes. We are likely to see an influx of HNW Hong Kong nationals looking for a foothold in the UK to protect themselves from Chinese government influence. For UHNWI there is also political risk to consider and London remains one of the most secure destinations for wealth and individual freedom.
This is the time for employers and their advisers to become familiar with the immigration policy that will apply after the Brexit transition period ends and understand how the evolving landscape of the various visas can encourage a skilled workforce and much-needed foreign investment to the UK.
EU Settled Status
One of the interesting aspects of the system post-Brexit is that many Europeans are likely to wish to maintain their business investment opportunities in the UK. If an individual is an EU national then there is still time to register for the Settled Status Scheme.
Those with EU nationality who have a residence in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 can apply up until 30 June 2021 which will allow individuals full rights of residence and the ability to move abroad for up to 5 years at a time whilst keeping the status. This is one of the most generous immigration statuses, allowing individuals to work, study and live without restriction in the UK.
The scheme also applies to EEA and Swiss Nationals as well as to those with family members with that status. The new points-based system will likely apply to EU, EEA and Swiss nationals in the same way as other countries but whether they will be exceptions is not yet clear.
For clients with connections to the UK, this is a status not to be missed. The application process is relatively simple and is done online. Those with more complex living arrangements will require some assistance in the process. For those who have not been a resident for 5 years in the UK, pre-settled status will be granted and can be upgraded once the 5-year term is reached.
Tier 1 (Investor) visas
Investors on Tier 1 visas can live and work in the UK after investing at least £2 million, and subsequently obtain British nationality. Known as golden visas for those with substantial spare capital, they are a quick route to obtaining a UK passport and allowing flexibility for investors and their families.
If the capital is available then this is an excellent option for UHNWI to gain immigration status in the UK. The individuals and their families can then become settled after 5 years. The scheme can also be accelerated by investing £5 or £10 million.
Applying for these visas does require specialist assistance. The investor must open a UK bank account and place the money in it, however, the investment does not need to be made immediately. Advisors must make sure that the investments comply with the Home Office rules which change regularly.
Tier 1 (Innovator) Visas
The innovator visa requires Applicants applying for an Innovator visa with a new business will need to demonstrate that they have either invested or have available at least £50,000 to invest in their new business.
The initial visa is granted for a period of three years. Applicants are then able to apply to extend their stay for a further three years and can then look to obtain more permanent status. The complexity with this visa is obtaining an Endorsement Letter from a Home office approved Endorsing Body. That requires careful examination of business plans and due diligence before applying for the relevant endorsements.
Tier 1 (start-up) Visa
This is a new category of visa for start-up companies and requires no initial investment. It is a two-year visa and has similar requirements to the Innovator visa with and endorsement from a recognised body.
There also remain other alternatives for HNWI who do not want to directly invest in the UK; by careful use of international business transfers, this may also allow individuals to obtain status in the UK.
The UK immigration landscape remains complex but open for business. Those considering settlement should take detailed advice before deciding which route is best for them and their families.
Ben Keith is a leading specialist in Extradition and Immigration law. He is a Deputy Judge of the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber).
He specialises in complex asylum claims linked to extradition proceedings and Interpol Red Notices and especially those claiming asylum from former soviet states. He has recently acted in cases involving asylum claims from Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkey as well as judicial review proceedings. A specialist in political cases and those arising from corporate raiding (see recent seminar at Chatham House here).
This article was originally published by eprivateclient on 3 August 2020 and can be viewed here (via a paywall).