Exclusive: Sharp rise in entrepreneurs & investors applying for UK visas
From discussions with a Home Office source, we understand that applications for entrepreneur visas have risen sharply post-Brexit, and are expected to rise further.
Background: There are various categories of visas the UK extends to non-EC business persons seeking residence in the UK. This is a popular route for gaining UK residence leading to eventual settlement or “Indefinite Leave To Remain”.
The Tier 1 visa can be obtained by those non-EEA persons seeking to buy a UK business or invest in a UK business. Eligibility starts from as little as £50,000 and the criteria become more relaxed the higher the investment amount. The minimum investment of £50,000 is accompanied by some fairly difficult to meet eligibility criteria.
The next level up is the most popular option, with more relaxed criteria, and requires a £200,000 investment. The visa category that is easiest to qualify for is the “Tier 1 Investor” visa for those with at least £1,000,000 in investment capital. For the investor visa the applicant does not need to even meet any English language competency tests.
In addition to the above there are other “special cases”. Citizens of Turkey can apply under the far more generous terms of the Ankara Agreement which is an EEC concession aimed to assist Turkey’s accession to the EU. Details of the Turkish Business persons’ visa is available here – you need to be “genuinely interested” in setting up a business (or buying one) and need to have enough capital to achieve your goal. The profits from the business, as per your business plan, need to be sufficient to support you and any family you bring with you.
Impact of Brexit
While much uncertainty surrounds what is meant by “Brexit means Brexit”, citizens of the EU are understandably concerned about their future access to UK residency should they want to move to Britain. Without freedom of movement EU citizens might have to compete with the rest of the world for limited UK visas and, in the entrepreneur and investor categories at least, increased competition will lead to higher prices for businesses.
Further, should the UK leave the EU (or when the UK leaves the EU), agreements like the Ankara Agreement may no longer apply and Turkish citizens will not be able to take advantage of the generous terms of the Turkish Business Persons’ Visa.
The expectation is that in almost all cases it will, post-Brexit, be more difficult for foreign nationals to use the business acquisition route to get the British residency rights that lead to eventual Permanent Resident status and, subsequently, British passports.
Applications for these visas in August 2016 were over 80% higher than similar applications in August 2015 and demand is expected to rise further in the next few months.