UK residency offers a wide range of benefits for both the applicant and their family. This includes free healthcare under the NHS, free education for dependants under the age of 18, as well as access to world-class higher education and universities. The benefits for business opportunities are wide-reaching, from the world financial hub of the City of London to the vibrant business environment in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’. There are, however, several different types of residency visas that can be obtained, and it can be challenging understanding what the differences between the residency programme, and which one you should apply for.

Start-up Residency visa 

This visa is for individuals who are from outside of the European Economic Area and have a viable and scalable business idea which they plan on setting up in the UK.
The business must be new, innovative, viable and scalable, with good potential for growth. The business idea and plan must have been endorsed by an approved body, which can include either a higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs. Applicants must also meet certain English language requirements in order for their visa to be accepted. If eligible for this visa, the applicants and their dependents would be able to stay in the UK for 2 years.

One of the key aspects of this programme that applicants should take note of is that there are no necessary funds required, so is perfect for those who may not have large funds to set up a company, such as younger business-minded people, or individuals who are starting their first business. Another important aspect that applicants should note, is that they will be unable to receive settled status under the visa. Therefore after 2 years, if the applicant wants to continue residing in the UK, they will need to transfer to another residency programme, which might include the Innovator or the Investor visa. 

UK Innovator

This visa is similar to the start-up visa in that it is for applicants from outside of the European Economic Area who are planning on setting up or running a new innovative business, that is viable, scalable, has good potential for growth, and has been endorsed by an approved body.

However, the key difference is that applicants must have at least £50,000 available in funds to invest in their business. Like the start-up visa, applicants must be fluent in English. 

Another key difference is that the visa lasts for 3 years, after which, providing certain criteria are met, the applicant may be eligible for indefinite leave to remain, meaning they can apply for a British passport, or otherwise extend their current visa. 

Sole Business Representative Visa

Applicants are eligible for this visa if they are a representative of an overseas business and are from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. Applicants must also be a senior manager that plans on becoming the sole representative for a company which is going to be expanding to the UK. 

This visa allows applicants to enter the UK for an initial period of three years, which can then be extended for a further two years. After five continuous years in which the applicant has resided in the UK for at least 185 days each year, they would then be applicable to gain permanent residence and therefore eligible for a British passport.

It is important to note that applicant s for this visa must meet certain English language requirements in order to be eligible for this visa. Furthermore, if at any point the applicant is no longer the sole business representative, then they are no longer allowed to remain in the UK. 

Investor Visa 

This is arguable the easiest residency visa to gain, as unlike the other UK residency programmes, this visa has very few requirements and restrictions, other than having the right amount of capital.
Whilst the other programmes have certain requirements, such as fluency in English, the need to work for a company or set up a new company, this is not necessary under the Investor visa. In order to be eligible for the programme, applicants must invest a minimum of £2 million into an active, trading UK company.  The more money the applicant invests, the quicker they will be able to receive settles status and be able to obtain a UK passport. By investing £2 million, applicants can achieve settled status within 5 years, for £5 million, it would take 3 years, and for £10 million, it would take 2 years. Under this visa, applicants and their dependents are allowed, but not obligated, to work and study within the UK. 

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