Corporate immigration to the UK has, over the last few years, become more difficult and more complex. British Governments have felt the political need to restrict immigration into the UK, which has been deemed to be too high.
The Government has, however, consistently professed that its policies are aimed at promoting business and economic growth. It claims that its immigration policies allow the kind of immigrants that the UK needs to come here: the kind of immigrants who will invest in the UK and provide skilled input for those companies in the UK that need it.
The resulting picture is a mixed one. By and large, corporate immigration to the UK is still healthy, although restrictions have been introduced in various areas.
Most, but not all, of corporate immigration is now governed by the so-called “points-based system”, which was introduced incrementally from 2009. The points-based system is a voluminous and complex scheme which, in the corporate/investment field, consists of:
- Tier 1 Investor Visa (for high net worth people who want to invest in UK Government bonds or British companies)
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (for people who want to start and run a new business in the UK or invest in and run an already-existing business)
- Tier 2 Work Permit Visa (for skilled and highly-qualified workers who have been sponsored by an employer in the UK)
Tier 2 Work Permit Migrants must be sponsored by a UK company which holds a Tier 2 Sponsor License, to obtain which an application must be made to the Home Office.
There is one major corporate immigration route which is not part of the points-based system:
- Sole Representative of an Overseas Business Visa. This is a scheme whereby a senior employee of an overseas company comes to the UK to set up a branch of the overseas company in the UK and run it.