(Updated October 2021) 5 lesser known UK visas that lead to settlement
#1 Global Talent: settlement after 3 – 5 years
This category is becoming more and more accessible, having included engineers, architects, scientists, digital technology workers as well as actors, designers and other creative workers. Leads to settlement (Indefinite Leave) after 3 years if you have secured an endorsement of the Talent type from Tech Nation, Arts Council England; of either type (Talent or Promise) from other endorsing bodies; or you qualified on the basis of winning an eligible award. In all other types of endorsement, the minimum residency period is 5 years. Important: you can combine some other visas when counting 'your' 3 or 5 years. Such as Tier 2 General, Skilled Worker or Tier 1 Entrepreneur. We have a designated page on our website here.
#2 Ancestral visa: settlement after 5 years
Ancestral visa is for Commonwealth citizens, it is based on having a grandparent who was born in the UK. Often used by Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and Canadians. You cannot switch but have to start from outside the UK. Leads to settlement after 5 years.
#3 Innovator visa: settlement anytime after 3 years, subject to meeting ILR criteria
The minimum number of years for permanent residency is 3 years. You have a list of 7 criteria to satisfy. They include investment of GBP 50 000, job creation, a specified volume of sales, even an intellectual property. After 3 years, you can apply for settlement as soon as you have met any 2 of the 7 criteria. If you need more time, there is no limit on extensions, every time for 3 years. We have a series of details posts here.
#4 Representative of Overseas Business: settlement after 5 years
Traditionally, a request from those looking for a visa to run a business in the UK but preferring the more flexible terms on this category. It is open to those who work in senior roles overseas and are being posted to the UK to open a branch. It is also widely known as Sole Representative visa. You must not own more than 50% of the business. Once you have this visa, there are no rules on minimum amount of funds or creating jobs. This category used to be known as Sole Representative.
#5: 10 years continuous legal residence.
This is not a “visa” that leads to settlement per-se but it is a way to achieve settlement nonetheless. In short, if you have spent 10 years legally in the UK – on any visas – you could apply for Indefinite Leave. There are many finer rules here, such as what’s “continuous” (breaks between visas and absences from the UK) and what’s “legal” (waiting times between visas, complying with conditions etc). If you happened to be in the Spouse/Partner/Parent 10-year route, you may actually qualify for ILR faster using 10 years on “any visas”. A very careful examination is needed on our side but of you fit into the rules – you get ILR!
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