posted 20 Mar 2011, 12:59 by Mehdi Asili   [ updated 22 Apr 2011, 17:06 ]

16 March 2011

Foreign entrepreneurs and investors are being given an extra incentive to come to the UK today by new visa rules, which will reward those who contribute to economic growth.

Under changes to the Immigration Rules, which were laid in Parliament today, people who come to the UK under Tier 1 (Investor) of the points-based system will be able to settle here faster if they invest large sums of money. Those who invest £5 million will be allowed to settle here after 3 years, and those investing £10 million or more will be allowed to settle after 2 years. This compares with the current minimum 5-year requirement.

The right to accelerated settlement will apply to those investors who are already in the UK and have invested large sums, as well as new arrivals.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants will also be able to settle in the UK more quickly if they create 10 jobs or turn over £5 million in a 3-year period.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said:

'Today 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.'

The standard investment threshold for an entrepreneur to qualify for a Tier 1 visa will remain at £200,000, but the government will allow high-potential businesses to come to the UK with £50,000 in funding from a reputable organisation. And entrepreneurs will be allowed to enter the UK with their business partners as long as they have access to joint funds.

Major investors will also enjoy more flexibility: they will be allowed to spend up to 180 days per year, rather than 90, outside the UK without affecting their right to settle here. This addresses a major concern cited by investors, as they need to be constantly mobile.

Additionally, a new type of visitor visa will be created for prospective entrepreneurs. They will be allowed to enter the UK so that they can secure funding and make arrangements for starting their business before they transfer to a full Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa while they are here.

The government has also published a statement of intent outlining how the new Tier 1 (Exceptional talent)route will operate from April 2011.

This innovative new route for exceptionally talented migrants will be limited to 1,000 visas per year. It is for those who have already been recognised or have the potential to be recognised as leaders in the fields of science, arts and humanities.

Migrants seeking entry under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) will not need to be sponsored by an employer but will need to be endorsed by an accredited competent body. These competent bodies will be announced in the near future. It will be for each competent body to select those who will qualify for endorsement.

Under Tier 1 (Exceptional talent), migrants will initially be granted permission to stay in the UK for 3 years and 4 months. They will then be able to extend their stay for a further 2 years, and to settle here after 5 years' residence in the UK.

Damian Green added:

'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.'

The changes will come into effect on 6 April 2011. They were announced today by Damian Green in a written ministerial statement, which you can find under 'Related documents' on the right side of this page.

A statement of policy contains more information about the changes to Tier 1. You can find this statement, and an assessment of the likely impact of the new limits being applied to Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system, under 'Policy and law' on the right side of this page.

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.

Micha-Rose Emmett, Associate of Henley & Partners Ltd, said:

'We applaud the Home Office on the introduction of these new rules for the investor and entrepreneur categories. This is evidence that the UK is becoming again a key player in investor immigration worldwide.

'With these changes, high net worth individuals will be more likely to chose the UK as their preferred country to reside as the physical presence requirements have been sensibly relaxed. The investment opportunity becomes more interesting for investors, and this is a very encouraging prospect for the future of the country.

'International wealthy individuals and families need effective, interesting solutions that can be implemented swiftly, and this new policy give these people those possibilities, which in turn will attract significant capital to the UK.'

Full details of all the changes that will come into effect on 6 April are set out in a stetement of changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 863). You can find this under 'Policy and law' on the right side of this page.

Revised policy guidance for each category in Tier 1 has been published today, and will come into effect on 6 April when the Immigration Rules change. You can find these guidance documents in the relevant pages of our Working in the UK - Tier 1 section.