UK Immigration

UK immigrationThere are four main categories available for UK immigration. These are:

  • Employment-based immigration
  • Family immigration
  • UK Ancestry
  • Study-based immigration

Below we discuss the eligibility criteria for each. Continue reading to discover if you stand a chance of living in the UK.

1. Employment-based immigration

Highly Skilled Workers – Tier 1

Entrepreneurs – Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

The Entrepreneur category is for anyone who wants to invest a minimum sum of money in the UK by setting up or taking over, and running, one or more businesses in the UK. You’ll have to demonstrate your eligibility by satisfying a points-based assessment.

Main requirements:

  • You must have access to the required investment funds of at least £50 000.
  • These funds must be:
    • Held in one or more regulated financial institutions.
    • Free to spend (‘disposable’) on business in the UK.

There are different eligibility requirements depending on whether you have access to £50 000 or £20 000.

Please note:

You no longer need to prepare a detailed business plan as part of this application.

Investors – Tier 1 (Investor)

High net worth individuals who want to invest in the UK can apply under the Tier 1 (Investor) category.

To be eligible you’d have to provide evidence that you intend to invest at least £2 000 000 in the UK.

You must also:

  • Satisfy a points-based assessment.
  • Be over the age of 16.
  • Be able to prove that the money belongs to either you or your husband, wife, unmarried or same-sex partner.

The funds must be:

  • Held in one or more regulated financial institutions.
  • Free to spend (‘disposable’) in the UK.

The funds can be in the UK or overseas at the time of the application.

Please note:

Due to the nature of this category, investor applicants do not have to satisfy the otherwise mandatory English language proficiency or available funds (maintenance) requirements.

Skilled workers – Tier 2

There are four categories of Tier 2 work visas:

  • Skilled worker: You may apply under this category if you have a specific skilled job offer in the UK. The position must be a genuine job vacancy.
  • Intra-Company Transfer (ICT): This category is for employees who are being transferred to a UK branch of their employer (company).
  • Sports people: The sports people category is for elite professional athletes and coaches.
  • Minister of Religion: This category is for workers with a bona fida religion.

Please note:

In order for an employer to sponsor a foreign worker, the employer must first have a Sponsor License and have the required Certificate of Sponsorship allocation. This is a unique reference number and a vital part of the points-based application.

2. Family Immigration

UK Dependency visas

This visa category allows dependent family members, such as minor children and other relatives, to come to the UK under certain circumstances.

Due to the standard of evidence required to establish dependency, legal representation would be required, especially with regards to dependent children over the age of 18 and elderly relatives.

Please note:

Elderly dependents must be over the age of 65, with significant health issues that require the assistance of the sponsor family member in performing everyday tasks such as washing and dressing.

UK Marriage/Civil Partnership visas

The marriage/civil partnership visa allows you to apply for permission to enter the UK on the basis of your marriage or civil partnership with a British citizen or person who is settled in the UK (i.e. a person who holds indefinite leave to remain or the right of abode).

As a couple you must to be able to satisfy specific requirements set by the UK government regarding your:

  • Relationship;
  • Economic situation; and
  • Accommodation arrangement in the UK.

You, the applicant, must also be able to demonstrate that you speak a sufficient level of English if you are not from a majority English-speaking country.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

  • Passing an approved English language test with at least CEFT Level A1 in speaking and listening; or
  • Having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree.

If your application is successful, you’ll be granted entry into the UK for 2.5 years, a period which allows for unrestricted employment.

After the initial 2.5 years, an application would be made in the UK for an extension of 2.5 years, which would lead to settlement (also referred to as ‘permanent residence’) after 5 years.

UK Unmarried Partner visas

You must be in a permanent and enduring relationship with a British citizen or a person who has settled status in the UK (indefinite leave to remain) to be eligible for this visa. The relationship can be either heterosexual or a same-sex relationship.

Main requirements:

  • Your and your partner must be able to prove that you have been living together in a ‘relationship akin to marriage’ for a minimum 2-year period immediately preceding the application date.
  • Your ability to meet the applicable financial and English language requirements.
  • Adequate accommodation arrangements on arrival in the UK.

This visa can also lead to settlement after 5 years and allows for unrestricted employment too, as is the case for marriage/civil partnership visas.

Fiancé/Fianceé visa

You must apply for this visa outside of the UK.

  • The visa is only valid for six months.
  • You may not work while on this visa.

Once you’re married, you can lodge an application in the UK for the settlement spouse visa, which allows for employment and leads to settlement.

To be eligible for this visa, you must be able to prove:

  • Your ability to meet the applicable financial and English language requirements.

Further to this, you and your partner must have the intention to:

  • Live together permanently; and
  • Marry within six months from the date of arrival in the UK.

3. UK Ancestry

To qualify for a UK ancestry visa, you must be a Commonwealth citizen over the age of 17 who are able to demonstrate that one of your grandparents was born in the UK (including Southern Ireland prior to 31 March 1922).

The grandparent may be a blood relative or adoptive relative, but in all cases full version birth certificates, in original format, must be submitted to trace the line of descent.

If your application is successful you will be able to enter the UK and stay for a period of up to 5 years with a view to qualifying for permanent residence at the end of the 5-year period.

You are allowed to work without restriction on this visa, whether on an employed or self-employed basis. In fact, it is required as part of the application that you demonstrate your intention to seek and secure employment in the UK for the duration of the visa. However, a job offer is not needed.

4. Study-based immigration

Tier 4 (General)/Student visa

To apply for a Tier 4 Student visa, you must be able to prove that:

  • You have been accepted to study a UK-recognised qualification.
  • Your selected course of study is:
  • A recognised, full-time degree course; or
  • Your course runs during the week and involves at least 15 hours of organised daytime study per week; or
  • A full-time course of study at an independent fee-paying school.

The academic institution or education provider must be a trusted sponsor permitted to sponsor applicants under the UK’s points-based system.

Please note:

  • Employment is restrictive for students and depends on the duration and type of course.
  • Dependents, such as a spouse or minor children (under the age of 18) can accompany a student to the UK. A dependent spouse will only be  allowed to work if the student (main holder of the right) is granted permission to stay in the UK for at least 12 months.
  • Unmarried partners are not ‘approved dependents’ under this category.

Contact us if you’d like to investigate UK immigration further

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