While the UK government has closed the Tier 1 investor visa route for foreign nationals, there are alternative immigration options for individuals seeking to relocate to the United Kingdom.
The Tier 1 investor visa, launched in 2008 and overhauled in 2015, allowed high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals to work, study and engage in business activities in the country, offering them permanent residence as quickly as after two years of stay.
“The UK government intends to make changes to the existing Innovator visa route to facilitate investment-related migration for those who have a track record of overseas investment activity and whose UK investment will bring tangible benefits to the UK economy,” says Simon Green, head of Charles Russell Speechlys (Hong Kong).
Rose Carey and Kelvin Tanner, partners in immigration practice at the law firm, add: “We expect to see these changes in the third quarter and to see the replacement for the Tier 1 investor visa to focus on skills and active investment plans, rather than passive investments. An opportunity for permanent residence through this reformed route may be conditional on applicants executing an investment strategy that can show genuine job creation and other tangible economic impacts in the UK.”
Nonetheless, there are alternative immigration options currently available which may be suitable for individuals seeking to relocate to the UK, according to the law firm, which assists individuals with investment-related UK migration. These include:
Skilled Worker visa. It is possible for a company in the UK to apply for a Home Office Sponsor Licence to sponsor migrant workers. This can include the owner of a business and apply to both start-up and established companies. Initial length of visa is up to five years.
Start-Up and Innovator visa. This can be used by entrepreneurs who wish to establish a new business in the UK. Applicants must show that they have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by a Home Office-approved endorsing body. Length of visa is two years for the start-up category, and initially three years for the innovator.
Global Talent visa. This is open to individuals who are an established leader, or a potential leader, in academia or research; arts and culture; or digital technology. Initial length of visa is up to five years.
Global Business Mobility visa. This includes the UK expansion worker category, which replaces the sole representative visa route from April 11 2022. There is also the senior or specialist worker category which does not have an English-language requirement.
High Potential Individual visa (starting May 30 2022). This will be available to recent graduates of top global universities who wish to live and work in the UK. The visa is aimed at the highly skilled and academically elite who in the last five years have been awarded an overseas degree level qualification from a university which appears on the Global Universities List (which is yet to be published by the Home Office). This route is not a route to permanent residence, but it might be possible to switch to a visa category which leads to permanent residence once the individual is resident in the UK.