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Date of publication: January 2019

For individuals outside the UK who are non-EEA nationals looking to come into the UK to live and work there are a variety of visa options. The most common are listed below:

Dependants of EEA National

If you are the non-European family member of an EEA national, then you may have the right to live in the UK.  Family members include your children, husband, wife or partner amongst others.  The applicant would apply for a family permit or possibly a spousal visa (dependent on their relationship to the EEA national) which entitles them to work in the UK. Minimum financial requirements may need to be met.

UK Ancestry

If you are a citizen of a Commonwealth Country e.g. Australia, New Zealand, Canada or are from North Korea and aged 17 or over and one of your grandparents was born in the UK, you have a right to UK ancestry. You must apply for this type of visa outside the UK.  You must prove you are able to work and that you plan to work in the UK and you can adequately support and accommodate yourself and any dependants without from the need for public funds.  This visa is granted for 5 years and enables the applicant to work in the UK.

Youth Mobility Scheme Visa (Tier 5)

If you are aged between 18 and 30 on the date of your application, and a citizen of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan & South Korea then you may be eligible to apply for a 2 year visa which entitles you to work or study in the UK. You can also be self employed but there are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled.  You must have £1,890, in cash funds available to you, at the time of application.  This visa is only granted once in an applicant’s lifetime and can’t be extended beyond the 2 year period.

Representative of an Overseas Business

This type of visa, allows an overseas company to send a single employee to work full-time in the UK in order to set up a branch or subsidiary of their company.  The applicant must be a senior employee who has been employed by the overseas operation for at least 6 months. The applicant must not have a majority shareholding (+30%) in the overseas company and must meet the English language requirements. This visa can be used for overseas companies to explore the UK market. The company cannot already have representation, and/or be set-up and trading in the UK. It is granted for an initial 3 years, can be extended for a further 2 years and may lead to longer term settlement.

Tier 1 Investor

For high net worth individuals who are looking to make a substantial investment in the UK, this is the most appropriate visa category to gain entry to the UK.  To apply under this category, the applicant must have access to £2,000,000 (cash funds) that are disposable in the UK and held in a regulated financial institution. This money must be invested in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in trading UK registered companies.  There is no need to demonstrate the applicant meets the English language requirements or is able to support themselves financially.  This visa is granted for an initial 3 years and 4 months, can be extended for a further 2 years and may lead to longer term settlement.  Note there are accelerated time frames for settlement under this visa type dependent on how much money the applicant invests in the UK.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur

This visa is for applicants who want to invest in the UK by setting up or taking over, and being actively involved in the running of one or more businesses in the UK.  For an application to be successful, the applicant must have access to not less than £200,000 cash funds which can be from a third party (or access to not less than £50,000 from a limited number of institutions to include government departments, venture capital firms). Additionally, the applicant will need to meet the English language requirement and maintenance requirement (for individuals £3,310 held for 90 days and for dependants there are additional charges). There is also a requirement to provide a business plan. This visa is granted for an initial 3 years and 4 months, can be extended for a further 2 years and may lead to longer term settlement.

Tier 2 – Skilled Workers

To apply under this visa type, the applicant must have a job offer and a sponsor (employer) licensed by UK Visa and Immigration (UKVIS) to support the job offer.

Unlike the visas listed above, visa applications in this category may involve a 3 stage process:

  • 1. Sponsor Licence
    The sponsor (employer) must apply for a licence which must be approved by UKVIS. UKVIS will carry out appropriate checks before deciding whether to grant the application for a licence for up to 4 years.

  • 2. Certificates of Sponsorship
    Once licensed, and subject to a range of rules dependent on the type of job that you are being sponsored for, the sponsor will then be able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (‘CoS’) (a virtual document) to potential migrants.

  • 3. Entry Clearance
    All migrants will then need to obtain prior entry clearance. This prior entry clearance process is “a points based criteria” in which the migrant must obtain a certain number of points based upon the CoS, qualifications and earnings.

The migrant must show that they have competence in English and have at least £945 in savings to maintain themselves and any dependants here in the UK.

There are different categories within Tier 2 and some categories are subject to quotas.

Lengths of stay and permitted rights to settlement continue to be changed. Applicants are often compelled to spend periods of at least 9 months out of 12 months in the UK to ensure their ‘visa’ remains valid and/or extendable.

Standard Visitor Visa (Business)

Many individuals enter the UK as a business visitor. This visa does not allow you to work and only certain activities are permitted.

Tax consequences

Please note all work visas can lead to an individual having to be resident for tax purposes.  Ensure you obtain early tax advice to adequately plan your tax affairs and explore your options. 

IMM 2 

Disclaimer: This note does not contain a full statement of the law and it does not constitute legal advice. Please seek legal advice if you have any questions about the information set out above.

Date of publication: June 2016




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