Investment is not enough: how to get new types of UK business visas in 2021

January 21, 2021
UK residence permit for business investment: new visa types in 2021
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The UK is no longer accepting applications for the Entrepreneur visa (Tier 1). Instead, the government has introduced two new visas for business innovators and start-up owners.

The Entrepreneur Visa has been available in the UK since 2008. To obtain it, a foreigner had to buy government bonds or invest at least £2 million in a local company. In exchange, the UK allowed them to enter the country without restrictions, to work and to do business there.

Since 2008, 12,517 foreigners have been granted an Entrepreneur Visa. They have added around £6.25 billion to the country’s budget.

Why the UK has abolished
the Entrepreneur Visa

Demand for Entrepreneur Visa fell in 2020 due to the financial crisis, the pandemic and Brexit. The country’s income from investment was £328 million – half of what it was in 2019. We told you about the statistics in the article “Russians are 3rd most likely to apply for a residence permit”.

The new visas are also due to the UK’s new immigration policy.

From 1 January 2021, a points-based residence permit system is in place. Applicants must score at least 70 points in order to obtain a work or student visa. The assessment takes into account the applicant’s age, specialisation and level of qualification.

Falling demand may have been the reason why the government decided to scrap Entrepreneur Visa. And in revising the system, the Home Office replaced it with two new options.

What kind of visa an investor can get in 2021

If a foreigner wants to start a business in the UK, they can get an Innovator Visa or a Start-up Visa.

The new visas allow you to live, work and do business in the UK and enter the country without restrictions. Family members such as a spouse and minor children can be granted a visa along with the investor.

Innovator Visa is given to foreigners who present an original business project. The idea must be different from anything already on the market. The business project is also approved by one of the authorised organisations from a list approved by the UK government.

The visa conditions do not set a minimum investment amount, e.g. for the share capital of a new company. But the foreigner does pay an application fee of £1,021 per applicant.

Applicants for the Innovator Visa also have to prove their knowledge of English at the B2 level. For example, they take the Secure English Language Test.

The Innovator Visa is issued for three years, after which it can be renewed an unlimited number of times. If the visa holder has lived in the country for three years, they are eligible to apply for permanent residence.

The Start-up Visa is also for those planning to start an innovative business in the UK. The candidate approves their business project at one of the country’s universities or at a business organisation that supports entrepreneurs.

There is also no minimum investment amount. The application fee is £363 per applicant.

A foreigner receives a visa for two years, but it cannot be extended. If the startup owner wants to stay in the country after the visa expires, it can obtain an Innovator Visa.

Applications for the Innovator Visa and Start-up Visa are accepted online at the official UK government website.

Conditions for UK residence permit holders for investment

If the investor has already obtained an Entrepreneur Visa, they do not need to apply for an Innovator Visa or Start-up Visa.

Before the expiry of the residence permit for the investment, the resident has the right to

  • join family members – spouse and minor children;
  • extend the residence permit for another 2 years;
  • apply for a residence permit under the old rules.

A Caribbean passport can be an alternative to a British visa if the main purpose of the investor is to travel freely to the UK.

Five countries in the region allow citizenship for an investment of $100,000 or more. Citizens of these countries can come to the UK and spend up to 180 days in the country in one year.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent of Caribbean citizenship programmes for investment. If you want a second passport for visa-free travel around the world, contact the investment programmes’ experts for advice.

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