Are you a high-net-worth individual considering the United Kingdom as your new home in 2024?
The allure of the UK, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and robust economy, is undeniable. But for many like yourself, the path to residency can seem clouded in uncertainty and complexity. The key question is: What options are available to you?
The UK has a lot to offer, from the historic streets of London to the famous universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and even the peaceful Scottish Highlands. But figuring out the right visa for you, with so many choices, can be a bit overwhelming.
In this guide, we'll make it all clear and easy to understand. We'll talk about different visas for people who want to start a business, work, or bring special skills to the UK. You'll learn what each visa is about, who it's for, and what you need to do to get one.
Why the UK is the Ideal Country for Investors in 2024
The United Kingdom has always been a magnet for investors worldwide, and in 2024, it's more attractive than ever. Here are some key reasons why:
- Innovation Hub: The UK is at the forefront of innovation, especially in sectors like fintech, biotech, and renewable energy. In 2024, the UK government is planning to invest £20 billion in research and development, signaling strong support for innovation.
- Strategic Location: The UK's geographical location makes it a gateway to both European and global markets. This strategic advantage is augmented by its world-class ports and airports, facilitating easy international trade.
- Skilled Workforce: The UK boasts a highly skilled workforce, with over 50% of its working-age population holding a tertiary education degree. This talent pool is a significant draw for businesses requiring a knowledgeable and capable team.
- Favorable Tax Environment: The corporate tax rate in the UK is one of the lowest among G20 countries, standing between 19% and 25%. This, combined with various investment incentives, makes it financially appealing for investors.
- Strong Legal Framework: The UK's legal system is known for its transparency and fairness, which is crucial for investor confidence. This system provides a secure environment for contracts and property rights, essential for business operations.
- Quality of Life: Beyond economic factors, the UK offers a high standard of living, being both safe and stable, with access to world-class healthcare, education, and cultural experiences. This quality of life is a significant factor for investors and their families considering relocation.
With this in mind, what are the different visa routes available for those interested in residing in the UK?
Investment Options for Acquiring Residency in the UK
In 2024, the UK will offer a variety of visa options for those looking to invest, work, or bring their unique talents to the country. Each visa category is designed to meet different needs and requirements, making the UK a welcoming destination for a diverse range of individuals.
1. Global Talent Visa
To start, we have the Global Talent Visa. The visa is for those recognized as leaders or emerging leaders in fields like science, engineering, humanities, arts, digital technology, architecture, fashion, and film and TV. This visa is ideal for those with exceptional talent or promise, aiming to develop their career in the UK.
- Expertise: Internationally recognized as a leader in their field, either by winning relevant awards or through endorsement.
- Endorsement: Must be endorsed by approved bodies like the British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, UKRI, Arts Council England, or Tech Nation.
- Permanent Residency: Opportunity to apply for indefinite leave to remain after 3 years (leaders) or 5 years (potential leaders).
- Evidence: Substantial proof of achievements is necessary for endorsement.
The Global Talent Visa offers a pathway to the UK for top professionals in their respective areas, providing flexibility in employment and a route to permanent residency.
2. UK Innovator Founder Visa
Introduced in 2023, UK Innovator Founder Visa is for entrepreneurs looking to start an innovative business in the UK. This new route replaces the previous Innovator and Start-up visa option.
- Business Plan Endorsement: Entrepreneurs need endorsement from a government-approved endorsing body for their innovative, viable, and scalable business plans.
- No Minimum Investment: The previous £50,000 funds requirement has been removed, making it more accessible.
- Applicant Criteria: Entrepreneurs must be at least 18 and have English proficiency at Level B2 CEFR.
- Additional Employment: Holders can work outside their business in skilled roles (minimum RQF Level 3), rules apply.
- Path to Settlement: Offers a chance for settlement after three continuous years in the UK, subject to achieving certain key business criteria.
This visa is ideal for entrepreneurs with fresh business ideas, offering flexibility and a streamlined path to establishing their presence in the UK's dynamic business landscape.
3. Skilled Worker Visa
The Skilled Worker Visa, which replaced the Tier 2 General visa in December 2020, is for foreign workers offered a skilled job in the UK by a company with a valid sponsor license.
- Job Offer & Sponsorship: Must have a job offer from a UK company which holds an active sponsor license and the applicant has been granted a valid certificate of sponsorship.
- Job Role Criteria: The role must be on the Standard Occupational Code (SOC) list and the applicant’s qualifications must be at least at RQF3 level (minimum A-levels).
- English Proficiency: Applicants need to be able to speak, read,, and listen to English at CEFR B1 level (lower intermediate).
- Salary Threshold: Must be paid at least £ 38,700 or the job's specific SOC code minimum salary, whichever is higher. The minimum hourly rate is £10.75. (New rules relating to the minimum salary level will be introduced in Spring 2024).
The visa doesn't have an annual cap and doesn't require a resident labor market test, but the sponsoring company must demonstrate a genuine vacancy. It offers a pathway to settlement after 5 years in the UK.
4. Senior/Specialist Worker Visa
Replacing the old Intra-Company Transfer visa in April 2022, the Senior/Specialist Worker Visa is for employees of international companies transferring to their UK offices.
- Eligibility: Applicants must have either worked for the foreign company for 12 months or earned at least £73,900 in the UK.
- Sponsorship Requirement: Employment with a Home Office-approved sponsor and a valid certificate of sponsorship from the UK subsidiary or branch are necessary.
- Job and Salary: The role should be on the eligible occupations list, with a minimum UK salary of £45,800.
- Visa Duration: Valid up to 5 years within 6 years, or 9 years within 10 years for higher earners.
- No Settlement Path: This does not lead to UK settlement. However, switching to a Skilled Worker Visa is possible, allowing for potential permanent residence.
This visa suits senior or specialist employees aiming to work temporarily in the UK branch or subsidiary of their international company.
5. Global Business Mobility Graduate Trainee Visa
Introduced on 11 April 2022, replacing the old Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer Graduate Trainee visa, this category allows employees to work in their employer’s UK branch as part of a graduate training program for managerial or specialist roles.
- Sponsorship: Must be employed by a Home Office-approved sponsor.
- Employment Duration: Minimum of 3 months with the sponsor outside the UK before applying.
- Certificate of Sponsorship: Required from the employer detailing the UK job role.
- Job Eligibility: The role must be on the list of eligible occupations.
- Minimum Salary: At least £24,220 per year.
Visa Duration & Conditions:
- Stay in the UK for up to 12 months or the duration on the certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.
- Cannot extend the visa but can apply for another Graduate Trainee visa from outside the UK.
- Switching to this visa from within the UK is not permitted.
This visa is specifically for employees participating in a graduate training program within their company, aiming for specialist or managerial positions in the UK.
6. Global Business Mobility UK Expansion Visa
Replacing the Sole Representative of an Overseas Company Visa on 11 April 2022, the UK Expansion Worker Visa enables employees to set up a UK branch or subsidiary of an established overseas business that is not yet trading in the UK.
- Age & Role: Applicants must be over 18 and work as senior managers or specialists in a business related to their UK sponsor.
- Experience: A minimum of 12 months' work with the overseas business is required unless earning over £73,900 annually or falling under specific categories like Japanese nationals establishing a UK branch.
- Certificate of Sponsorship: Necessary for the planned UK job.
- Job & Salary: The role must be skilled to RQF Level 6, with a salary of at least £45,800 or the job's going rate.
- Financial Self-Support: Applicants need enough funds without public assistance.
- Health Requirement: TB certificate if applicable.
- Duration: Valid for 12 months from the job start date or as per the certificate plus 14 days, extendable by 12 months, with a 2-year maximum stay.
- English Language: No requirement.
- Total UK Stay: Max 5 years in a 6-year period, considering previous time on Global Business Mobility routes.
This visa is for senior or specialist employees looking to establish and develop their company’s presence in the UK, offering a clear path for setting up a new branch. Once the UK subsidiary or branch has been established then the temporary sponsor license can be elevated to a full sponsor license and the applicant can transfer from inside the UK, from the temporary UK expansion worker visa to a 5-year skilled worker visa, which has the possibility to lead to settlement.
7. Scale-Up Visa
Introduced on 22 August 2022, the Scale-up Visa is designed for talented individuals who are essential for the advancement of high-growth UK Scale-up businesses.
Eligibility and Requirements:
- Age: Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
- Job Offer: A highly skilled job offer is required from a qualifying Scale-up business at a salary of at least £34,600 or the job's going rate.
- Skill Level: The job must be at an appropriate skill level.
- English Proficiency: Applicants must be competent in English to at least CEFR Level B1.
- Financial Self-Support: Sufficient funds are needed without reliance on public funds.
- Health Check: A valid TB certificate if applicable.
- Sponsored Application: Includes a Certificate of Sponsorship for the job. Applicants must be employed in the sponsored job for an initial 6-month period.
- Unsponsored Application: Available for those previously granted permission as a Scale-up Worker, with specific earnings requirements.
Settlement and Sponsor Requirements:
- Path to settlement after 5 years of continuous stay in the UK.
- Scale-up Sponsors must demonstrate significant growth and be A-rated on the Home Office’s register of licensed sponsors.
This visa offers a pathway for skilled workers to contribute to the rapid growth of emerging businesses in the UK, with both sponsored and unsponsored options for application.
8. High Potential Individual Visa
The High Potential Individual Visa, introduced on 30 May 2022, targets recent graduates from top global universities looking to work or find work in the UK. While it doesn't directly lead to settlement, it allows for switching to other visa routes that may.
Eligibility and Requirements:
- Age: Must be 18 or over.
- Education: Degree from a university on the Global Universities List, awarded within the last 5 years.
- English Proficiency: Minimum CEFR Level B1.
- Financial Self-Support: At least £1,270 in funds for 28 consecutive days before application.
- Health Check: A valid TB certificate if required.
- Previous UK Visas: Cannot have previously been granted certain UK student or graduate permissions.
- Confirmation from Ecctis that the qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree.
- 3 years for doctoral-level qualifications.
- 2 years for all other degree qualifications.
- No extensions are possible.
This visa offers a unique opportunity for high-achieving recent graduates to bring their talents to the UK job market, with a fixed-term stay based on their qualification level.
The Bottom Line
In 2024, the United Kingdom presents a variety of visa options, each catering to different needs and aspirations of high-net-worth individuals, entrepreneurs, specialists, and skilled workers. Whether you're looking to bring innovative ideas to life, contribute your unique skills, or work in a fast-growing UK business, there's a path for you.