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Fast-track to settlement - the Government's changes to Investor and Entrepreneur visas

The UK Government will introduce significant changes in respect of the Investor and Entrepreneur Visa categories to attract more High Net Worth Individuals to the UK. The new rules come into effect on 6 April 2011.

Investor Visas – Fast-track to Settlement

A new fast-track procedure to indefinite leave to remain (or “settlement”) (ILR) is about to be introduced for those already in the UK in this category and new applicants, reducing the number of years’ residence in the UK significantly, dependant upon the level of investment in the UK:

• two years for an investment of £10 million;
• three years for an investment of £5 million; and
• five years for an investment of £1 million.

In addition, there is to be a relaxation of the rules on the number of days investors are required to spend in the UK. Investors will be permitted to spend twice as long outside the UK (180 days in any 12 month period), which will give investors much greater flexibility to run their businesses abroad but still enable them to qualify for ILR.

The rules for acquisition of British citizenship will remain unchanged and therefore the relaxation of the residence requirements should not be relied on if citizenship is the ultimate aim.

Entrepreneur Visas

The Entrepreneur visa rules will also be amended. The Government is about to introduce a six month Prospective Entrepreneur visa, allowing would-be entrepreneurs to undertake preliminary activities in anticipation of investing in a UK business venture. After successful investment, entrepreneurs will be able to switch in-country to a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

For the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category, the existing £200,000 funding threshold will be reduced to £50,000 where the funding is provided by a reputable organisation. Provision will also be made to expedite ILR for successful entrepreneurs who create ten full time jobs or have a turnover of £5 million. They will be able to apply for settlement after three years. Further, up to two business partners will be able to use the route if they have equal access to the funding.

If you would like further information on these matters please contact Ceris Gardner on 020 7012 8613.

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