As the new visa rules for wealthy, entrepreneurial and 'exceptionally talented' migrants to the UK come into force tomorrow (6 April 2011), Philip Barth, head of the private immigration law team at Penningtons Solicitors LLP, advises anyone relocating to the UK to examine their own motivations very carefully.
"While the new rules appear to be a sensible quick fix for the Government to attract much needed funds and talent into the UK, anyone considering this route should take expert advice that provides them with a 360 degree look at their aspirations, assets and objectives for moving to the UK. As with most things in life, if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is," says Barth.
From 6 April, foreign investors who bring £5 million and £10 million into the UK will be able to achieve Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) within three and two years respectively. They will also be allowed to be absent from the UK for up to 180 days a year without it affecting their eligibility for ILR.
There are a number of relaxations for entrepreneurs including a reduced investment threshold of £50,000 - the standard current threshold is £200,000 - for those with funding from reputable, approved organisations such as registered venture capitalists, business angels or a Government department. Entrepreneurs will also be able to settle in the UK more quickly if they create ten jobs or turn over £5 million in a three year period.
'Exceptionally talented' migrants who have already been recognised or have the potential to be recognised as leaders in the fields of science, arts and humanities no longer need to be sponsored by an employer but can be endorsed by an accredited competent body which will select those who will qualify for endorsement.
Philip Barth says: "While these changes appear to make it easier for people to relocate to the UK, set up a business and achieve ILR more quickly, if one of their goals is to achieve citizenship, they should be aware that the rules for naturalisation have not been changed. This means that, at best, these new rules will only shave 12 months off the six year path to a British passport.
"Prospective migrants should also consider the impact of moving on their family as well as their business life and seek specialist advice about their situation so that they fully understand the impact that English law may have on all aspects of their life."
For further information about the new visa rules and the implications for prospective migrants, please click here.