UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Just Got Harder

July 1st, 2016   •   Immigration, Investor Visa   •   Comments Off on UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Just Got Harder   
Brexit makes UK Tier 1 harder.

Brexit makes UK Tier 1 harder

Anyone contemplating the UK Tier 1 immigrant visa programme for entrepreneurs needs to take careful advice before embarking on such a project.

For many years the UK Tier 1 was an easy ticket. Invest £200,000 in a business and gain residency in the UK for at least three years. According the the Independent Migration Advisory Committee a total of 13,746 UK Tier 1 investor visas had been issued since 2008 but only 1,580 active companies had been set up by the process. The committee said it had found “substantial evidence of low quality businesses” set up by such entrepreneurs. Read article in Financial Times.

In 2015 the UK government introduced the “Genuine Entrepreneur Test” which has made it far more difficult for investors to meet the criteria of the programme. In a bid to reduce fraudulent applicants a business plan was made compulsory for all investors. Applications are studied in detail by immigration officers and investors need to demonstrate their ability to start a business in the UK and provide evidence of source of funds. The  rejection rate for applications recently was around 70%.

For some time now immigration has been a hot topic for the government and was the single key issue that led to the recent referendum on the UK leaving the EU. The recent case of the Canadian family who entered the UK on a Tier 1 investor visa only to have their renewal refused this year is further evidence of a tightening of the rules by the British government.

If the failure rate was 70% before this point then it is only likely to rise further after the historic UK vote on 23 June 2016 to leave the EU. While it is still possible to apply for the programme applicants risk losing substantial fees to lawyers and advisors who typically charge a £15,000 non-refundable fee to submit an application that has little chance of success.

Contrast this with the golden visa programmes elsewhere in Europe where a straightforward investment in real estate is guaranteed to gain a residency visa with 100% success.

It is clear the UK Tier 1 needs a complete overhaul and that the UK government currently has no appetite for immigration in any form. Wealthy investors are being deterred from UK immigration and this is unlikely to change for some years until the UK has finally left the EU and formulated a coherent investor immigration policy.

UK Residency by Investment post Brexit

June 28th, 2016   •   Immigration, Investor Visa, Residency   •   Comments Off on UK Residency by Investment post Brexit   

UK votes to leave the EUBrexit Vote

On the 23 June 2016 the UK electorate voted to leave the EU. So how does this affect immigration investment programmes in Europe that can lead to residency in the United Kingdom?

Current Situation

European Union citizens are free to travel, work and live in any other EU country. This means for countries such as Cyprus and Malta who issue citizenship and second passports through investment, that any investor in these programmes who gains a passport of that country, is free to live anywhere in the EU, including the UK.

Situation Post Brexit

It is important to understand at this point that the UK has not left the EU. The UK population has voted 52% to 48% to leave. But the referendum result is not legally binding and it is now down to the UK Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 of the European Union. Once invoked this starts a two year process for the UK to leave the European Union. David Cameron the current UK Prime Minister has gracefully passed this task on to his successor, whoever that may be.

The degree of Euro sceptism among potential candidates for Prime Minister varies with talk of potentially re-negotiating Britain’s position within the EU or maintaining many of the benefits and restraints within a new deal. Writing this just a few days after the referendum there seem to be many ways this could now play out, and varying timescales as to when it will eventually be resolved.

But let’s for the moment assume that the UK does invoke Article 50 and the UK leaves the EU.

Free Movement

One of the key principles of the European Union is the free movement of people. And that is the key question that concerns us when it comes to residency or citizenship by investment in any of the other EU countries. All EU members have to abide by this. In addition other countries gaining access to the single market such as Norway are also required to comply.

Until Article 50 is invoked and for the two year period afterwards then the UK remains part of the EU. This means that for the next two years, nothing will change. Any EU citizen can live in the UK or anywhere else in the EU.

Post EU Exit

For those EU nationals already living in the UK at the time of the UK leaving the EU (2018 possibly 2019) we suspect the chances of being allowed to remain are very high.

There are 3 million EU nationals living in the UK currently and 1 million UK nationals living elsewhere in the European Union. We expect an undignified 3 for 1 swap across the English Channel is unlikely. We also believe that there will be no distinction between those who entered post referendum or even post Article 50.

The reason being that such residents entered the UK completely legally under rules and laws at the time. Not only would it be difficult for a government to send back or “deport” such residents we expect it would not be in the government’s interests to enter into any political row with it’s European neighbours.

UK Residency

Our advice to anyone seeking UK residency through investment in the EU is to act now. Gaining residency in the UK directly through investment under the Tier 1 programme is virtually impossible in the current climate. Residency through a EU passport, as explained above, is the only viable option and one that is likely to remain an option for the next two years. The only countries through which an EU passport can be gained by investment within this timescale are Malta and Cyprus.

The earlier such investment is made, the earlier UK residency can be undertaken and the more likely it is that such residency will not be affected upon the UK leaving the EU.

Immigration Investment

May 7th, 2015   •   Immigration   •   no comments   

Several countries have had immigration investment programmes in place for a number of years. Most notable are Canada, Australia, USA (EB5) and UK (Tier 1). The programmes are aimed at economic migrants seeking to permanently emigrate with their business or wealth to set up home in a new country.

In recent years a new breed of investment visa programme has become popular. More commonly known as the golden visa or investor visa these are programmes provide the right to live in the country but do not require you to become resident. They satisfy the needs of a new generation of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) who are seeking the freedom to travel, the ease of doing business cross border, the potential for a second passport and insurance for their family for the future.

These programmes provide flexibility and do not demand the immigration, physical residence or even tax residence of an individual investor and their family. Applicants can continue to live in their home country, maintain their business and tax residence but with the additional security, insurance and freedom that a second passport or travel visa provides.

In the last four years more than six programmes have been introduced in Europe and the Caribbean has grown from one long established programme in St. Kitts to four.

Investor Immigration Europe

Portugal Immigration Investment

An investment of €500,000 provides the right to live in Portugal and provides a Schengen visa. Visit the country two weeks every two years to retain the visa.

Spain Immigration Investment

Similar to Portugal, an investment of €500,000 in real estate in Spain and minimal requirement to visit in order to maintain the visa.

Cyprus Immigration Investment

A €2.5 million investment in real estate in Cyprus provides a passport which allows the applicant to live anywhere in Europe.

Malta Immigration Investment

Investment totalling €1.25 million in Malta secures citizenship. The applicant needs to retain ties with the island.

Greece Immigration Investment

Just €250,000 invested in property in Greece provides permanent residency should the investor need it and a Schengen visa allowing travel in Europe.

Hungary Immigration Investment

The bond investment programme in Hungary requires a purchase of government bonds for a minimum €300,000. Applicants need retain an address in Hungary but there is no minimum stay.

Bulgaria Immigration Investment

Investment of €1.2 million in government bonds in Bulgaria will gain citizenship and a second passport.

Investor Immigration Caribbean

St Kitts Immigration Investment

A long established programme. St Kitts investment varies and can include real estate leading to a second passport.

Antigua Immigration Investment

Investment in real estate in Antigua, a development contribution or establishing a business will lead to a second passport.

Dominica Immigration Investment

A donation or real estate investment in Dominica from just $200,000 leads to a second passport.

Grenada Immigration Investment

Citizenship and a second passport is granted for Grenada through a minimum $250,000 investment.