UK lures entrepreneurs and investors with new Visa rules

Friday, 18 March 2011 00:59 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The UK Government on Wednesday introduced visa rules to fast-track settlement for high value investors and entrepreneurs.

Foreign entrepreneurs and investors have been given an extra boost with the announcement that the UK government has introduced new visa rules that encourage the brightest and the best to locate to the UK.

Under the new rules, those who come to the UK and invest large sums of money will be given the right to settle permanently in the UK faster. Those who invest £5 million will be allowed to settle in the UK after three years and those who invest £10 million or more will be allowed to settle after two. This compares with the minimum five year requirement that is currently in place.

Entrepreneurs will also be able to settle in the UK more quickly if they create ten jobs or turn over £5m in a three year period.

Damian Green, UK Immigration Minister, said:“ I have sent out a clear message – the UK remains open for business and we want those who have the most to offer to come and settle here. Entrepreneurs and investors can play a major part in our economic recovery and I want to do everything I can to ensure that Britain remains an attractive destination for them. Last year we issued far too few visas to those who wish to set up a business or invest in the UK – I intend to change that.”

It was also announced that a new visit visa will be created for prospective entrepreneurs. This will allow them to enter the UK in order to secure their funding and make arrangements for starting their business before they transfer onto a full entrepreneur visa in country.

While the standard investment threshold for an entrepreneur to qualify for a visa will remain at £200,000, the government will also make provision for high potential businesses to come to the UK with £50,000 in funding from a reputable approved organisation - for example venture capitalists, including angel investors, or through seed competitions.

Major investors will also enjoy more flexibility as they will be allowed to have spent up to 180 days a year, rather than 90, outside of the UK before they lose their right to settlement. This addresses a major concern that investors often cite as they need to be constantly mobile.    

Those investors who are already in the UK now and have invested large sums will also qualify for accelerated settlement.

Separately, the government has also published a Statement of Intent outlining how the new ‘exceptional talent’ route under Tier 1 of the Points Based System will operate from April this year.

This new innovative route for exceptionally talented migrants, which will be limited to 1,000 visas in the first year of the annual limit, will facilitate those who have already been recognised, or have the potential to be recognised, as a leader in the fields of science, arts and humanities.

Migrants seeking entry under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category will not need to be sponsored by an employer but will need to be endorsed by an accredited competent body.

It will be for each competent body to select those who will qualify for endorsement. The list of competent bodies will be announced in the near future.

Those admitted under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category will initially be granted three years and four months leave.  They will be able to extend their stay for a further two years and settlement will be available after five years’ residence in the UK.

 “Our new Exceptional Talent route will ensure that we continue to allow the brightest and the best who can make a valued contribution into the UK. This comes at a time of major reform to the immigration system to bring net migration back down to the tens of thousands,” Green added.

The government has made clear its commitment to supporting a private sector led economic recovery. For growth to be strong and sustainable, the economy must be rebalanced to support private sector jobs, exports and investment. This new initiative will help secure and maintain the UK’s position as the leading destination for global inward investment in Europe. Last year, the UK attracted 1,619 new investment projects which generated more than 94,000 jobs. These investments came from 54 different countries.

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), which assists overseas companies in locating to the UK, will actively promote the new visa arrangements worldwide.

FT Alert

In 2008-09 there were 92 inward investment projects from India to the UK. In 2009 the UK received 11% of India's outward foreign direct investment flows. Out of a total of about 1200 Indian-owned companies in Europe in 2009, approximately 700 were in the UK.