Tuesday, 2 April 2019

5 less-known UK visas that lead to settlement

#1 Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent): settlement after 3 – 5 years

This category has been more accessible, having included engineers, architects, scientists, digital technology workers as well as actors, designers and other creative workers. There is annual limit of 2,000 places but even that has doubled from the previous limit. You can apply outside the UK or switch from some categories, including from the unpopular (with migrants) Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa.

It leads to settlement (Indefinite Leave) after 3 years if you have secured an endorsement of Exceptional Talent type. What’s more, you can combine some categories, such as Tier 2 General when counting ‘your’ 3 years. If your endorsement was of Exceptional Promise type, your qualifying period will be 5 years, and you can still combine with some other categories. We have a separate post on this category 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 New Innovator business visa: settlement anytime after 3 years, subject to meeting ILR criteria

This is a new category, introduced from 29 March 2019 and which replaced Tier 1 (Entrepreneur). For the first time, it only sets the minimum number of years – 3 years – and then gives a list of 7 criteria. After 3 years, you can apply for settlement as soon as you have met any 2 of them. Some are on investment (and it has been reduced to £50,000), some on job creation (10 jobs on any salary; or 5 jobs on £25,000 salary), some on turnover (£1 million in 1 year or £500,000 but with £100,000 from exporting activities). And there is even one on intellectual property and a number of customers. In short (this is a very simplified summary), money is ‘down’ but jobs are ‘up’. You may meet the requirements after, say, 3.5 or 4.5 years or maybe after 7 years. 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. The ‘catch’ is 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.

#5: 10 years 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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