How to immigrate to the UK legally
A wide variety of categories of people can legally immigrate to the UK. Besides a well-known marriage and professional immigration, there are also such options as educational and business immigration, as well as the least common immigration of exceptionally talented people. Let us have a closer look at all the ways of legal immigration: who can apply for it, what is required, and how quickly it is possible to get British citizenship.
It is realistic to fulfill oneself in the professional sphere in the UK on condition that one finds a British employer who will provide a job offer, i.e. an official work invitation. According to the law, for a position, an employer must first consider the country’s citizens. If they cannot find an employee among the citizens, they will search among EU citizens. If there is no one willing to take this position, the employer has the right to hire a citizen of any other country. Besides, the employer is in charge of the invited foreign employee with financial and other responsibilities. Legally it is executed as «The Certificate of Sponsorship».
However, every year Britain issues quite a lot of Tier 2 Visas to foreign citizens. First, a foreigner must complete an internship, and then find an employer and get a job offer. Later, one can optionally get permanent residence and citizenship.
For businesspeople and individuals with significant means, there are three immigration options:
- Opening a representative office/branch of an existing company. In this case, the branch does not need to recruit British employees or move them from their home country. One representative of the company, who legally receives a special Sole representative Visa, is enough. If you are a representative of your company, then you will be the one to get this visa, which opens up tempting prospects. Immediately after obtaining the «Sole representative», you will be able to move your family to England, i.e. your spouse/common-law partner and children who have not reached the age of majority. After that, you can get a Leave to Remain, a temporary residence permit for three years, which can be extended for another 2 years. After that, you are on the home stretch: you get permanent residence and apply for citizenship a year later. Under favorable circumstances, it can take 6-7 years to get permanent residence after the «Sole representative». However, in the UK, it will not be possible to open a representative office of an unknown newly registered company. Even though a firm is old, upon registration of the British branch, one will have to provide comprehensive information about it, including accounting and tax reports, advertising materials, articles in media, etc. It will be necessary to provide an objective reason why the representative office has to be opened in the UK.
- Company establishment in the country. Of course, this refers to fairly large businesses with at least £200,000 and two jobs provided for British citizens. Meeting these requirements, one will receive a 3-year Entrepreneur Visa intended for foreigners who have opened a company in the country. This visa can be extended but not used for other purposes, i.e. to engage in any other activity. For those who are just planning to start their business in the UK, there is a 6-month Prospective Entrepreneur Visa. It is designed for people who want to look closer at the market, analyze the current situation, select personnel, premises, and so on. This visa has an important feature. If necessary, it can be re-registered as an Entrepreneur Visa.
- Investment. To get an Investor Visa, it is enough to invest a large amount, starting from £2,000,000, in the British economy. Upon that, those who invested £2,000,000 get permanent residence in 5 years, and those who invested £10,000,000 just in 2 years.
Oxford or Cambridge are not only world-famous universities but also a way to obtain a British residence permit. However, to get a Tier 4 Study Visa, it is not obligatory to study at the most prestigious universities. An ordinary college somewhere in the north of Yorkshire will work too. Those who receive postgraduate education or an MBA also get a Tier 4 Visa. A certain advantage of this document is permission to work (however, a limited number of hours). It will not only improve a student’s financial situation but also help find an employer. After graduation, it will be possible to get an internship and a job offer that gives the right to receive a Tier 2 Work Visa, which points the way to permanent residence. It is worth noting that it is much easier for British university graduates to find a job than for those who have only a foreign education.
Immigration of exceptionally talented people
Like all developed countries, Britain is willing to accept individuals who stand out in the arts or sciences. It will be up to specially authorized British organizations to determine whether one is talented enough to qualify for an Exceptional Talent Visa. A person will have to convince of their potential representatives of one of the following organizations:
- Arts Council England;
- British Academy;
- Royal Society;
- Royal Academy of Engineering.
How to do it? By demonstrating achievements, including diplomas, scientific publications, and various certificates. The more documents that show the talents of an individual can be provided, the better. Even mass media articles mentioning an applicant, as well as participation in international competitions and festivals (even if a person did not win a prize) will prove useful.
For those who have decided to tie the knot with British citizens (including same-sex marriages), there are four options of «spousal visas»:
- Fiancé Visa;
- Visitor for Marriage;
- Spouse/Civil Partner;
- EEA Family Permit.
Each of them has its particular characteristics. For example, a 6-month Fiancé Visa allows only getting married but a Spouse Visa gives the right to work and provides an opportunity to obtain permanent residence. Nevertheless, all four types of visas have one thing in common: they are only granted to people who come to Great Britain to create a family or reunite with it.
When considering moving to the UK through marriage, it is important to remember that a British spouse has to meet certain requirements. They must have quite a good income, provide a rental agreement, as well as a bank statement. Along with a certified copy of a passport, these documents should be sent to a visa application center. It is recommended to add a letter that tells the history of the relationship.
In some cases, this visa may be refused. One of the reasons might be the low income of a British spouse. Close relatives from the UK can help solve this problem. For example, parents of a British bride or groom could write a letter of sponsorship, where they state their place of employment, income, and readiness to resolve financial issues. One should also attach a bank statement, payslips, and other evidence of their financial viability.