The UK has become a popular location to do business and live. People move to the UK for a range of reasons – to start a business, to work, to study or join family members.

At Mackrell.Solicitors, we have a long history of assisting both companies and individuals with their immigration requirements and we have a deep understanding of the UK’s immigration system.

The right legal advice at an early stage can make a significant contribution to successful visa applications, which is why we always form close relationships with those seeking to enter the UK to provide services and support that is tailored to their needs.

Click here to watch our video on Registering as a British Citizen

Points-based system for individuals

The UK operates under a five tiered points based-system for those seeking to study, work or do business in the UK.

This system is the framework for initial admission and permission to remain for nationals of countries outside the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA).

This system may also play a more important role in the future for those who have lived here under the free movement rules of the EU, depending on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

With this in mind many EU citizens living in the UK are exploring Certificates of Permanent Residence.

If you have queries about what the future may hold for EU citizens in the UK, why not read our Certificates of Permanent Residence FAQ.

Visa Options for individuals

There are a number of visa types open to individuals, depending on their circumstances and eligibility.

We regularly assist clients with submitting applications for points-based visas in categories including:

  • Innovator Visa– this route is open to those who want to set up or run a business in the UK. An applicant must have at least £50,000 in investment funds in order to set up a new business. As part of the visa process the applicant must also show that their business idea is both a new idea and viable; in order to demonstrate this the business or business idea must be endorsed by an approved body.

It offers an initial visa period of three years – this can be further extended by three years if the applicant can demonstrate that they have invested the funds in the relevant business. After a five year period an applicant may be entitled to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Those applying have to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that they are a Genuine Entrepreneur by demonstrating the credibility and genuineness of their business.

  • Tier 1 investor– This visa is intended for high net-worth individuals who want to make a substantial financial investment in the UK. The application will be based on the ability to invest a minimum of £2,000,000 in the UK. Investors who invest more will be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain sooner.

The visa is granted for an initial period of three years and four months and can then be renewed for a further two years.  A threshold of £2,000,000 enables a person to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years, while the £5,000,000 threshold allows for an application to be made after three years and with the £10,000,000 threshold the time period  is two years. The funds must be invested in either share capital in UK companies or in UK Bonds.

  • Student visas– This visa is designed for students seeking to study at an educational establishment in the UK that has been issued with a Tier 4 sponsor licence. Once the institution has established the prospective student has the ability to follow the course applied for, it will issue a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies, which is essential for study visa applications.

Additional leave can be applied for after the course ends to enable the student to receive results and make a decision on whether or not to make an additional application for further leave to remain.

  • The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent – This route is designed to allow exceptional people who have been endorsed in their field in science, engineering, arts and digital media to work in the UK in order to enrich the talent pool from within the UK.

An applicant must, in general, confirm that they are international leaders in their field or can demonstrate that they have the potential to become leaders in their field in the future.

Visa Options for Businesses

At Mackrell.Solicitors we advise businesses wanting to sponsor individuals to come to work for them in the UK.

We assist clients with submitting applications for:

  • Tier 2 Sponsor Licences– for UK businesses that want to employ foreign workers in the UK. Once the sponsor licence is obtained, it is typically valid for a period of four years and the company/business will be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to migrant workers and employ them in the UK.
  • Tier 2 (General) visas– for skilled workers who have received a graduate level job offer from a UK employer. This category includes applicants coming to the UK to fill roles on the UK Government’s shortage occupations list.
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) visas– for employees of multinational companies that have been transferred by their overseas employer to a UK branch of the organisation, either on a long-term basis or for frequent short visits.

Within this final category there are three sub-categories:

  • Established Staff –This allows for the transfer of established, skilled employees to be transferred to the UK branch of their organisation to fill a post that cannot be filled by a settled worker.
  • Graduate Trainee – This is an option for recent graduate recruits to a UK branch of the organisation, for training purposes.
  • Skills Transfer – This allows new recruits to transfer to a UK branch of the organisation to acquire the skills and knowledge that they will need overseas, or share their specialist skills or knowledge to the UK workforce

In each of these cases an applicant must have a valid certificate of sponsor, which can only be issued by a sponsor that is registered with the UK Border Agency.

Representative of an Overseas Business’ visa – This permits initial entry to the UK for three years and is applicable to the sole representative of an overseas company planning to set up a UK branch or a wholly owned subsidiary for an overseas parent company. The visa holder must remain employed by the overseas company during their stay in the UK.

The Points Process

When considering a visa application for work in the UK, the government first checks that the individual meets the specific criteria of the particular visa and then awards points based upon the following:

  • Qualifications
  • Future Expected Earnings
  • Sponsorship
  • English language skills
  • Available maintenance

If the applicant is deemed suitable based upon these requirements and there are no other concerns, then the government will typically grant a visa provided suitable documentary evidence has been supplied.

Visas for people in a relationship with a UK national

We can also assist with spousal visa applications and entry clearance applications on behalf of:

  • spouses,
  • civil partners,
  • unmarried partner and
  • same sex partners

Appeals when applications are not successful

Where applications are unsuccessful, we can assist with the various routes to challenge decisions and to advise on strengthening your case. You may have either the right to appeal or to an administrative review of the decision and in some cases a judicial review of the decision may be appropriate.