Thomas Chase Q&A – Tier 1 (Investor) visa

UK Immigration

Two very different potential clients asked me if now was a good time to apply for a Tier 1 (investor) visa.

Despite what you may think, investors can be risk averse. It therefore stands to reason that before investing £2,000,000 or more in the UK, potential investors from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA)  and Switzerland will wish to know if they (and their families) will be welcomed and if they can expect further obstacles to the application process.

Such questions were raised in the post-Brexit climate. Given that immigration control seemed to form a large part of the Brexit debate and possibly its outcome, it is expected that overseas nationals should question whether now is the time to relocate to the UK.

To assess this, we need to look to the UK economy. Recent figures from the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showed a seven-year low for the economy as it contracted at its steepest pace since the banking crash of 2008/ 2009. The Bank of England has limited tools left for stimulating the economy having reduced interest rates to an all-time low of 0.5%. It will soon fall to the UK Treasury to come up with some interesting and maverick ways to boost the economy. Making the UK further attractive to overseas investors is one such route.

A financial adviser can advise on the benefits of individual investment opportunities. But from an immigration perspective, there seems to me to be no better time to apply for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa and invest £2,000,000 or more in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.

And besides, the UK still has so much to offer.

Over to you as I would be interested to hear what you think.

Permanent Residence to British Citizenship: Is it Worth the Hassle?

You have applied to the Home Office for your Permanent Residence card. Post Brexit, is it worth making an application to become a British Citizen?

That depends.

The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, has stated that Brexit will mean Brexit. There will likely be changes for EU nationals seeking to relocate to the UK and work in future beyond Brexit, subject to any reciprocal agreements and negotiations on freedom of movement.

However, for those EU nationals that already have Permanent Residence (PR) in the UK and have applied to certify this status by the Home Office, very little is likely to change. Except that they will have rights under EU law that will no longer strictly apply to the UK post Brexit.

Applying to become a British citizen can be beneficial for those EU nationals with PR that have made the UK their long term home and intend to continue doing so.

If life in the UK is important to you, you couldn’t imagine life elsewhere and you want the added security of knowing that your status will be protected, the extra step can help. And the good thing is, many countries within the EU allow nationals to hold dual nationality.

But there is a proviso and that is around timing. If you are an EU national with non-EEA family overseas, it may be considerably easier to have them join you under the current EU regulations than under UK immigration rules, This is because UK immigration laws place strict financial and other requirements on non-EEA family members joining British family members.

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families by looking at the bigger picture.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance or assistance with an application for a settlement or British  citizenship, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

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Successfully applied to become a British Citizen? Here’s what you must do next!

EU citizens Brexit

Congratulations! Your application to become a British Citizen has been successful and you have the Home Office letter to prove it.

You have contacted the local council to arrange your attendance at the citizenship ceremony and invited your nearest and dearest to witness you becoming a British national.

At the ceremony, you will receive your certificate of British citizenship and welcome pack.

And then onto the next step – applying for your British passport. It’s exciting isn’t it?!

Yes. Only there are a few things that you need to be aware of.

After you attend the citizenship ceremony and receive your certificate of British citizenship, your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is no longer appropriate for your circumstances. That’s because you have formally become British and your BRP does not reflect this.

To address this, the Home Office requires that you return the BRP to them by post within 5 days of attending the ceremony or receiving the certificate of British citizenship.

Did I say ‘require’? It would be better to say ‘insist’ as failure to return your BRP to the Home Office after attending a citizenship ceremony can result in a fine of up to £1,000.

The BRP must be returned to (correct as of today’s date):

POL Returns 
PO Box 195 
Bristol 
BS20 1BT.

The BRP shouldn’t merely be placed in an envelope and posted but should be cut into several pieces and placed in a windowless envelope with a note. That note should contain brief wording such as:

‘I am returning my permit because I have become a British citizen’.

Apart from ensuring that you return your BRP within 5 days of attending the citizenship ceremony or receiving your certificate of British citizenship, it all seems straightforward, right?

Wrong! What happens if you have travel booked or plan to travel but cannot afford to wait 6 weeks to receive your new British passport?

Can you attend the ceremony, receive your certificate of British citizenship, travel with your original overseas passport and re-enter the UK with your BRP? After all, the BRP will show that you are entitled to reside in the UK and hasn’t expired.

The firm answer is no.

Once you have attended the citizenship ceremony or received your certificate of British citizenship you cannot hold onto the BRP and travel with it once you. You will instead need to be in possession of a British passport or Right of Abode Certificate to enter the UK.

If you do have travel booked, in such circumstances, it may be best to delay booking and attending the citizenship ceremony.

Normally, you will have 3 months from receipt of the Home Office letter of your application outcome to book and attend the ceremony. It your travel is booked to take place within that time, it may be best to contact your local council and explain the situation to them.

Council officials are extremely helpful and may possibly arrange for you to attend the ceremony at the latest available date. This may give you sufficient time to complete your travels and return to the UK using your BRP before attending the ceremony. This option will not be available if your certificate of British citizenship has been sent to you instead.

The main thing is that having gone through the process of qualifying for British citizenship, applying and being successful, it wold be a shame to become subject to a fine because you did not return your BRP or at worst, have no way of proving your immigration status when returning to the UK after your travels.

Hopefully, following this short guide will help you focus on what’s important, celebrating the outcome of your application to become a British citizen!

Brexit: What next for EU nationals?

Thomas Chase Immigration - EU nationals

Following Brexit, it can feel as if the road ahead has been closed to EU nationals. But it doesn’t have to be. I must have drafted and redrafted this article so many times since the British public voted 52% to 48% to leave the European Union (EU) on 23 June 2016. Perhaps it was a case of the Brexit Blues which led me to struggle with this particular piece. Fellow bloggers elsewhere seemed able to produce articles on the impact of Brexit on any number of industries and sectors. Indeed, I had come across numerous articles on the impact of Brexit on EU nationals and EU workers.

And yet for all the articles written, I’m not sure that EU nationals appreciate that things are not as bleak as they first appear; that they have options for securing their status in the UK and that the sooner they begin thinking about next steps, the better. With this in mind, I finally felt upbeat about putting pen to paper.

EU nationals and ‘Treaty Rights’

First of all, it’s worth highlighting which nationals we are talking about.

EU nationals include:

Austria France Malta
Belgium Germany Netherlands
Bulgaria Greece Poland
Croatia Hungary Portugal
Republic of Cyprus Ireland Romania
Czech Republic Italy Slovakia
Denmark Latvia Slovenia
Estonia Lithuania Spain
Finland Luxembourg Sweden

In addition, nationals outside of the EU, but within the European Economic Area (EEA) that may also enjoy free movement are:

Iceland Liechtenstein Norway

The only exception is Switzerland, which is neither a member of the EU or EEA but whose nationals may also enjoy the same rights.

In a nutshell, Treaty Rights’ and ‘free movement’ are the rights that EU nationals and their family members enjoy to travel and relocate to the UK (and other parts of the EU) to take up employment and seek work. Not just that, EU nationals may also study in the UK, establish and grow a business, live off their savings or continue their retirement.

Brexit is unlikely to change this. Such entitlements will continue for the next few years as the UK still remains an active member of the EU.

In fact, the referendum outcome merely informed the government that the majority of British nationals wish to leave the EU (however small that majority may be). The outcome is not legally binding though the acting Prime Minister, Theresa May, is committed to honouring the outcome, citing that ‘Brexit means Brexit’.

The nature and timing of any changes to the status of EU nationals presently in the UK will be better understood once the UK formally activates Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (the legal instrument giving notice of the UK’s intention to leave the EU). At that point, the UK will begin to put forward its proposed terms to the EU Member States during that 2-year negotiation process.

With this in mind, it may be easy for EU nationals to wait and see what happens. After all, with everything remaining the same for at least the next 2-years, why panic?

Fair point. The answer is actually two-fold. On one hand, the rights of EU nationals or EU workers in the UK is likely to be protected beyond 2 years by way of transitional or interim immigration arrangements. But on the other, EU nationals will likely have to demonstrate, by way of documentary evidence, that they have been exercising their Treaty Rights in the UK at a certain point so as to fall within the transitional arrangements. The difficulty for EU nationals (and immigration advisers carefully scrutinising this area) is that we do not know what those transitional arrangements will be and what parameters will be set by the Home Office (the UK government department responsible for immigration matters).

Rather than the wait-and-see approach, EU nationals may wish to submit an application to the Home Office at the earliest opportunity.

Permanent Residence status

For instance, EU nationals exercising Treaty Rights in the UK for 5 years automatically acquire permanent residence in the UK. Previously, they never needed to give their status a second thought. Proving their entitlement to take employment in the UK was as simple as presenting a valid EU passport or ID card.

Post-Brexit, it may be sensible for EU nationals to submit an application to the Home Office to certify their permanent residence status for added security. Such applications are onerous and time consuming, which is why many EU nationals avoided submitting applications up to this point.

EU nationals will be required to submit documentary evidence to demonstrate that they have been exercising Treaty Rights for the last 5 years (or less depending on certain circumstances).

In addition, they must show that they have made the UK their home and resided here for a continuous period. Holidays and trips abroad will be taken into account and should not be so excessive as to cause the Home Office to surmise that the EU national did not actually make the UK their permanent home.

Given the number of documents involved, the application process can take 6 months for the Home Office to conclude. Indeed, a recent report highlighted that the Home Office were inundated with applications of this type. I’m sure you can see why that would be the case!

The added benefit of this approach is that it provides EU nationals with the additional identity documents required for an application for British Citizenship, once they have resided in the UK for 6 years and can evidence their permanent residence. Having dual British and European nationality can be especially advantageous for many EU nationals.

For those that have already certified their permanent residence and have lived it the UK for at least 6 years, it may be time to consider making an application for British nationality.

Even if EU nationals chose not to submit an application to certify their residence status, collating the above documents, for themselves and any family members, will be prudent so as to comply with any transitional arrangements that will likely be introduced.

Registration Certificate

EU nationals that have not quite exercised Treaty Rights in the UK for a full 5 years, submitting an application for a registration certificate to certify their status to date, may be a better option.

EU nationals had little need to submit such an application unless they wanted further proof of their entitlements to access certain services in the UK. However, non-EU family or extended family members may be familiar with this process.

Fortunately, this application can be submitted by post and in person and can therefore be quicker to process.

Should the EU national come to be in the UK for 5 years Post-Brexit, it may more straightforward for them to convert that status to permanent residency.

Conclusion

Brexit has led to EU nationals to question their immigration status in the UK for the first time. Despite suffering from a dose of Brexit Blues, the situation does not need to be bleak. Nothing has changed and there is an expectation that post-Brexit, transitional arrangements will be put in place to respect the entitlements of EU nationals that have made the UK their home.

That does not mean however, that EU nationals should do nothing. It may be prudent for EU nationals to assess how to solidify and best protect their status in the UK, by way of making an application to recognise their permanent residence, applying for a residence certificate, collating documents just-in-case, or applying to become a British Citizen. Such applications will require EU nationals to evidence that they have been exercising Treaty Rights in the UK and that they have made the UK their permanent home. Given that EU nationals have to provide details of any absences from the UK for holidays or any other time spent abroad, what EU nationals should avoid doing in the short term is leaving the UK and returning to mainland Europe in order to see what happens. Doing so will likely break the chain of continuous leave in the UK and that’s when options for EU nationals could be compromised.

Should you require any help with your EU status, why not arrange a consultation with me to discuss your options? The email address is [email protected]