Immigration to
The United Kingdom

ASTONS | UKVISAS.COM
Since 1989
Astons | UKVISAS.COM
UK Immigration Categories
Astons in partnership with UKVISAS.COM offers assistance and specialist advice on the following immigration issues:
Tier 1 Investor visa
The Tier 1 (Investor) visa is designed for high net worth individuals who want to relocate themselves and their family to the UK. Only a few hundred of these visas are granted per year and very few immigration firms have a consistent track record in Investor visa applications. We have been preparing Investor applications for more than 10 years.

The Tier 1 (Investor) visa category applies to the main applicant and all immediate family members, including spouse and children under the age of 18. Initially, an investor visa is granted for three years and four months and can then be extended for another two years, by providing evidence that an investment of at least £ 2 million was made in the UK. There is no requirement to demonstrate English language ability. Work, study and business activity is permitted. The length of time required to qualify for permanent residence depends on the amount of investment, as follows:

  • Investment of £ 2 million – eligibility for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years in the UK
  • Investment of £ 5 million – eligibility for indefinite leave to remain after 3 years in the UK
  • Investment of £ 10 million – eligibility for indefinite leave to remain after 2 years in the UK
The number of days that the applicant is permitted to spend outside of the UK has been increased to 180 days per year. Applicants in the first category are eligible to apply for British citizenship after having spent 6 years in the country, while those in the second and third categories are eligible to apply after 5 years of residence in the UK.

The investment into the British economy can be made as follows

United Kingdom Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading companies that are registered in the United Kingdom. Investment in share or loan capital in active and trading companies that are registered in the United Kingdom can include investment held in foreign currencies.

Minimum age of main applicant – 18 years

The Immigration Rules now permit children aged 18 years to apply under the Tier 1 (Investor) category, provided that their parents support the application and confirm that they are happy with the care arrangements in place. Whilst in the UK with this type of leave, Tier 1 investor children are permitted to study for their A-levels at a private school and can then progress to university. This means that they can use this route to achieve indefinite leave to remain by the time they are 22 years old, assuming they meet the requirements including that regarding residence. This is a simpler route to settlement than that under the Tier 4 student category. Furthermore, subject to meeting the specific residence requirement (see below), such individuals could then potentially be British citizens by the time they are 24 years old.

Residence requirement that must be met in order to qualify for naturalisation (British citizenship)

It is very important to note that the residence requirement for becoming a British citizen is very different to that which has to be met when applying for indefinite leave to remain (ie settlement).

Whilst a Tier 1 (investor) migrant can spend up to 180 days out of every 12 month period they live in the UK abroad without jeopardising their eligibility for settlement, when it comes to applying for British citizenship, they must not have spent more than 450 days out of the UK during the 5 year qualifying period, and no more than 90 days during the final 12 months of this.

This is something we strongly advise all potential applicants to bear in mind if their long-term plan is to apply for citizenship.

How do I apply? Please speak to one of our advisors.


Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa
If you need realistic and useful advice regarding Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa then you have come to the right place. We specialise in business immigration, especially in Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category.

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category applies to the main applicant and all immediate family members, including spouse and children under the age of 18. Initially, an entrepreneur visa is granted for three years and four months and can then be extended for another two years. Applicants in the first category are eligible to apply for British citizenship after having spent 6 years in the country, while those who create ten jobs or achieve an annual turnover of £5 million a year are eligible to apply after 5 years of residence in the UK.

To make a successful entrepreneur visa application, applicants are required to score sufficient points based on the funds that are available to them to invest, their English Language ability and by having enough money for their living costs in the UK (maintenance).

Applicants need to have access to either:

At least £200,000

AND

  • All of the above funds need to have been held in one or more regulated financial institutions.
  • All of the above funds need to be free to spend in the United Kingdom (disposable).
OR

At least £50,000 from:

  • 1 or more registered venture capital firms regulated by the Financial Services authority; or
  • 1 or more UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions listed as endorsed on the UK Trade and Investment website, or
  • 1 or more UK government departments, which have made the funds available for the specific purpose of establishing or expanding a UK business.
English Language Requirements

Level B1 of the CEFR.

Maintenance (living costs)

Applicants are also required to meet the maintenance requirement. This means that in addition to the funds required for investment they need to show personal funds to satisfy the UKBA that they will be able to pay for their own living costs.

Switching (someone already in the UK under a different immigration category applying to extend their stay under a different immigration category)

It is possible for those who are in the United Kingdom as Tier 1 Post Study Workers to switch into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category, and for those who are here under Tier 4 as students as a Graduate Entrepreneur.

How long?

Leave is initially granted for three years.

Can I extend it?

Yes, if you can prove that you have invested the funds. You also need to prove that you:

- Have created new jobs for British citizens or settled workers –these rules can be flexible, arrange a consultation to find out more.

- Are engaged in business activity.

Does it lead to settlement?

Yes. It is also possible to fast-track the time spent in the UK to obtain settlement if you create ten jobs or achieve an annual turnover of £5 million a year.

You may also be interested in a Tier 1 Investor Visa if you're looking to invest in a UK based company.
Want to know more? Get in touch! Please speak to one of our advisors


Sole Representative of Overseas Business visa
This is the most suitable route for companies to use when they wish to establish a commercial presence in the UK. To be able to apply under Representatives of Overseas Business category they must not already have any representative, branch or subsidiary in the UK (although if the company has a UK entity which does not employ staff or transact business it may still be possible). The company will need to send a senior employee of the overseas business (who was recruited overseas) to the UK to establish a UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary concerned with the same type of business as the overseas company. The essential elements that the applicant needs to meet are as follows:

  • Must be a senior employee of an overseas company who has no UK branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK already;
  • Must have been recruited overseas by the overseas company;
  • Applicant must be given full authority to take all operational decisions on behalf of the overseas company in the UK;
  • The UK entity that will be set up must carry out the same type of business as the overseas company;
  • Applicant must have a proven positive track record in the same or very closely related field of work and when they are in the UK can only work for the company that they have come here to establish;
  • Applicant must have a credible plan of how they will set up the UK Branch;
  • Applicant needs to demonstrate basic English language ability and meet the maintenance requirement;
  • Applicant will initially be granted 3 years leave and then can apply for extend it for a further 2 years;
  • This route can lead to settlement for the applicant (Indefinite leave to Remain) after five successful years in this capacity.
We have helped many clients to come to the UK to establish a commercial presence in the UK. There is quite an extensive list of documents that need to be submitted including documents concerning the company and the applicant. If you would like to arrange a consultation to discuss this category and how we could assist you with your application then please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Indefinite Leave to Remain
Based on Five Years Leave on a Working Visa

Many visa categories, such as the old Work Permit and Highly-Skilled Migrant categories, the newer categories such as Tier 1 and Tier 2, and other visa types such as the Ancestry Visa, allow the visa holder to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK after five continuous years in the UK on that visa. In some cases applicants can combine together combinations of different working visas. Dependants may also be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain along with the visa holder.

Based on Ten Years Continuous Lawful Residence

If a person has spent ten continuous years in the UK lawfully, without any significant gaps between their grants of leave, they may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK on that basis. Dependants cannot apply under this type of permanent residence visa scheme.


Based on Spouse/Civil Partner/Unmarried Partner Visa

In many cases, a person who holds a family visa on the basis of a family relationship with a person present and settled in the UK, such as a spouse/civil partnership visa or unmarried partner visa, will eventually qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Work Permit (Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas)
If you need realistic and useful advice regarding the Tier 2 (General) visa, then you have come to the right place. We specialise in corporate immigration, especially in Tier 2 (General) visa category and Sponsor Licence applications.

This route is for skilled workers who have been offered a job by a UK-based organisation. The organisation must hold a sponsor licence

To apply for a Tier 2 General working visa the applicant needs:

  • An offer of a suitably skilled job from a UK based Company that holds a sponsorship licence (see page 'sponsor licence' for more details);
  • To score sufficient points for their 'attributes'– applicants are awarded points if they are issued a Certificate of Sponsorship from the UK company and if they receive at least what is considered to be the appropriate salary for their particular job role under the codes of practice;
  • To score points by showing that they have enough money for their maintenance (living costs) in the UK;
  • To score points by demonstrating they can speak English to a basic level;
  • The employer needs to have carried out a Resident Market Labour Test (see below) to ensure that a member of the UK resident workforce was not suitable for the job (although there are exceptions to this – please contact us for more information).
Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT)

As mentioned above the RLMT is a method that aims to ensure that jobs that members of the residence workforce (who have the absolute right to work in whatever occupation they choose) do not miss out on jobs that would be suitable for them. The Resident Labour Market Test does not need to be carried out in particular types of Tier 2 General application (please contact us for more information).

So how does test work in practice and what do employers have to do to pass it?

First of all, the employer or individual potential employee needs to check that the job is at the appropriate skill level and that it pays a salary that is at least the minimum for that particular job role for example 'Sales Manager' or 'Sound Engineer' by examining the duties and responsibilities of the particular job role in accordance with the Codes of Practice.

Employers are required to advertise the position for at least 28 days, in at least two different publications ranging from government job websites to specific industry-specific journals.

It is essential that the advertisement for the role is in a particular format, and includes certain specific content. This is vitally important because if the employer fails to meet the strict requirements of how the advert should be they will fail the test.

Failing the test is very frustrating experience because it means that the company will have to begin the test (to advertise) all over again, wasting precious time and money (advertising costs) and prolonging their new employee's start date and therefore the benefit of the skills he or she can contribute to the company.

In our experience, the UKBA is not very flexible in respect of companies 'almost' meeting the test or even in situations where they have advertised the role in the correct way, but have not kept records of the adverts to the UKBA's satisfaction. We have helped many clients who have come to us after failing the test simply because they failed to include one tiny piece of information.

We have years of experience helping both employers and individuals to link the particular job role to the correct code of practice under which the Tier 2 General application will need to be submitted. This then unlocks the essential requirements that need to be met under that particular job role. We then guide our clients with clear and easy to understand advice about how to pass the RLMT. If you are a company or an individual who is thinks that this might be a suitable route for you, then please book a consultation.

Sponsorship License
To be able to employ non-EEA citizens, a company needs to hold a United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) sponsor licence. Once a company holds a licence it is then able to issue certificates of sponsorship which are required as part of each non-EEA individual's immigration application under Tier 2 of the Points Based System.

The process of applying for a sponsorship licence can be very frustrating for companies as the UKBA scrutinises applications very carefully. Further it is very strict with which documents can be submitted as part of the application. The UKBA needs to be satisfied that the company or organisation is a suitable one and further that it is capable of keeping sufficient records and fulfilling the duties required as part of being a sponsor. Companies are required to submit at least a minimum amount of specific documents depending on the type of Company and how long it has been trading for. The documents have to be either original or certified copies and the UKBA is very strict if the documents are not certified exactly in line with relevant guidance.

Companies who had tried to make the application without the help of an Immigration representative will often come to us after their application has been rejected or refused due to either a lack of the correct documents submitted or the documents not being in exactly the correct format. There is currently a large backlog of applications waiting to be decided by the UKBA so it is very important for companies to get their applications sent to the UKBA well in advance of when they want to sponsor a non-EEA skilled worker.

It is essential that companies submit the correct documents. If they do not then the UKBA will simply reject the application and send it back and during the time that they should be welcoming their new skilled member of staff they will instead be desperately trying to get all the right documents together to send the application again.

We can guide you through the whole process of applying and assist you every step of the way. We will also be strict about your documents but this is because we want to help you and to ensure that your application will not get rejected. If you are interested in applying for a sponsor licence so that you can sponsor non-EEA workers then please get in touch with us

.
Tier 4 Student visa
To study in the UK, you may need a student visa. There are two main types of UK student visa you can apply for – the Tier 4 Student Visa, and the Student Visitor Visa. To find out which type applies to you and your situation, read the information below and then get in touch with the team at Astons for some expert help and advice.

Tier 4 Student Visa

A person can apply, either in the UK or from outside the UK, for a Tier 4 Student Visa either as a child student (from the age of 4 upwards) or as an adult student. The course must be a full-time course (of at least 15 hours per week). The Tier 4 student must be sponsored by their school, college or university, which must issue a Certificate of Acceptance for Studies for them before a successful study visa UK application can be made. In some cases it is possible for a Tier 4 Student to work, on a part-time basis.

Student Visitor Visa

A person who is over 18 can apply to come to the UK as a student visitor to study a short course. Student visitors are not permitted to work at all. The maximum period for which this type of UK student visa can be granted is six months, unless the course is an English language course, in which case it is 11 months.

Family visas: Spouse, Unmarried Partner and Fiancé(e)
Do you need to apply for a family visa? There are many different family visa types, including marriage visa, ancestry visa, dependant visa and child visa categories.

To find out which applies to you and your situation, read the information below and then get in touch with Astons for some expert help and advice.

Spouse (husband or wife) and Civil Partner (same-sex married partner) Visa

A person who is either in the UK or outside the UK may apply for a visa as the spouse or civil partner of a person present and settled in the UK, i.e. someone who has either indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship. The applicant must already be married when they make a spouse visa UK application. The marriage visa will be granted for two years and it allows the visa holder to work without restriction.


Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner Visa

A person who is outside the UK and who is engaged to be married to a person present and settled in the UK (i.e. someone who has either indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship) may apply to come to the UK as their fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner. The parties must have already met face-to-face. The visa will be granted for six months and does not allow the visa holder to work. As soon as the visa holder arrives in the UK they can marry their fiancé(e) as soon as they are able to. They should in any case marry within the six-month period. Once the marriage has taken place the visa holder should then apply for a spouse/civil partner visa.

Unmarried Partner Visa

If a person has lived legally for at least two years in the UK as the unmarried partner (different sex or same sex) of a person present and settled in the UK (i.e. someone who has either indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship) they may apply for an unmarried partner visa, which will be granted for two years. This visa allows them to work. A person who has been living outside the UK in an unmarried partnership with a British citizen for at least four years may also apply under this scheme.

Dependent Parent or Grandparent Visa

An elderly parent or grandparent of someone who is present and settled in the UK (i.e. someone who has either indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship) may be able to apply for a dependent visa for indefinite stay in the UK, but they must be able to show that they are wholly or mainly financially dependent on the child or grandchild in the UK.

Child Visa

If both the parents of a child under 18 living outside the UK are present and settled in the UK (i.e. they have either indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship) the child may be able to apply for a child visa for indefinite leave in the UK. If only one parent is present and settled in the UK it still may be possible to apply for a child visa, depending on the circumstances.

Parent of Child at School Visa

If there is a child under the age of 12 studying at school in the UK a parent of the child may apply for a visa to live in the UK and look after the child. This arrangement is only possible as long as the child is under 12.

Victim of Domestic Violence Visa

If a person has leave in the UK as the spouse, civil partner (same-sex partner) or unmarried partner (either same-sex or different sex) of a person present and settled in the UK (i.e. someone who has either indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship) and they have experienced violence from their partner which has caused the relationship to permanently break down, they may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK on this basis.

Ancestry Visa

The ancestry visa scheme is only open to Commonwealth nationals. The main requirement is very simple: if a Commonwealth national can show that they have at least one grandparent (not a parent) born in the UK they can apply from abroad for an ancestry visa which, if granted, will be granted for up to five years. This visa allows the visa holder to work without restriction.

Dependant of Person with a Limited Leave in UK Visa

In some cases, people who are in the UK on limited leave (for example as Tier 1 Migrants, Tier 2 Migrants, Sole Representatives, Ancestry Visa holders etc.) may be entitled to have their dependants (spouse/partner or children under 18) apply to join them in the UK for the period of their limited leave. If at some point in the future the person with limited leave applies for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, their dependants may be able to apply for indefinite leave in line with them.

Naturalisation and UK citizenship
British Citizenship Applications

If you are an adult and wish to make a British citizenship application, there are two routes available to you. You can apply for citizenship if:

  1. You have been lawfully resident in the UK for at least the last five years and have held indefinite leave to remain/permanent residence for at least the previous 12 months.
  2. You are married to/in a civil partnership with a British citizen, have been lawfully resident in the UK for at least the last three years and have been granted indefinite leave to remain (at any time).
In addition, there are requirements about how long you are allowed to have spent outside the UK during the relevant period.


The British citizenship application process for children

For children under 18 wishing to apply for citizenship there is a different process called 'registration', the rules for which are more complicated.

Get in touch with us for advice or to make an application. If you need advice on applying for British naturalisation or want to find out about related issues such as the British citizenship test, visit the page of our website to arrange a consultation with one of our expert advisers.
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