|Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The David Cameron government is in the process of enacting tough visa rules to curb immigration, but on Wednesday announced new rules that makes it easy for the world's wealthy to migrate to Britain and settle here from April 6.
The new visa rules will reward entrepreneurs and investors who come to the UK and contribute to society, immigration minister Damian Green announced.
Under the new rules, those who invest large sums of money or create new jobs will be given the right to settle permanently in the UK faster.
Green said: "Today I have sent out a clear message – the UK remains open for business and we want those who have the most to offer to come and settle here. Entrepreneurs and investors can play a major part in our economic recovery and I want to do everything I can to ensure that Britain remains an attractive destination for them".
Those who invest 5 million pounds will be allowed to settle here after three years and those that invest 10 million pounds or more will be allowed to settle after two.
This compares with the minimum five year requirement for settlement that is currently in place for skilled migrants.
Entrepreneurs will also be able to settle in the UK more quickly if they create ten jobs or turn over 5 million pounds in a three year period.
It was also announced today that a new visit visa will be created for prospective entrepreneurs.
This will allow them to enter the UK in order to secure their funding and make arrangements for starting their business before they transfer onto a full entrepreneur visa in country.
While the standard investment threshold for an entrepreneur to qualify for a visa will remain at 200,000 pounds, the government will also make provision for high potential businesses to come to the UK with 50,000 pounds in funding from a reputable approved organisation – for example venture capitalists, including angel investors, or through seed competitions.
The Home Office said that major investors will also enjoy more flexibility as they will be allowed to have spent up to 180 days a year, rather than 90, outside of the UK before they lose their right to settlement. This addresses a major concern that investors often cite as they need to be constantly mobile.
Those investors who are already in the UK now and have invested large sums will also qualify for accelerated settlement.
Explaining how the new "exceptional talent" route under tier one of the points based system will operate from April this year, the Home Office said that the route will be limited to 1,000 visas under the annual limit, but will facilitate those who have already been recognised or have the potential to be recognised as a leader in the fields of science, arts and humanities.
Migrants seeking entry under the tier one exceptional talent category will not need to be sponsored by an employer but will need to be endorsed by an accredited competent body.
Green added: "Our new exceptional talent route will ensure that we continue to allow the brightest and the best who can make a valued contribution into the UK. This comes at a time of major reform to the immigration system to bring net migration back down to the tens of thousands."