How To Get A UK Visa If You’re A Non EU Resident

For many, living and working in the UK certainly has its appeal. It’s continually ranked among one of the best environments in the world for starting a business, and the country’s economy, education system and high standards of living is an attraction that many can’t resist. But, asks Heather Landau, what are the immigration options available to you if you’re a non-EU resident?


Skilled Workers

The vast majority of non-EU residents who obtain a migrant visa to the UK, do so through the Tier 2 Visa for Skilled Migrants. It’s one of the most popular and important entry roots into the UK for skilled workers.

For entry via the Tier 2 Visa, you must have a legitimate job offer and a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK business.  In 2011 the government introduced an annual cap on the number of visas issued that currently stands at 20,700. Any individual who earns more than £150,000 a year is excluded from these restrictions.


Tier 1 Investor Visa

Typically the reserve of the very wealthy, the Tier 1 Investor Visa is one of the most straightforward routes to UK residency. Applicants will need to show that they have £2m to invest in gilts, bonds, shares or a loan to a UK-based company.

The speed at which you can apply for permanent residency is also linked to the level of investment. 

  • £2m investment you can apply for permanent residency after five years.
  • £5m investment you can apply for permanent residency after three years.
  • £10m investment you can apply for permanent residency after two years.

During this period you must ensure the UK is your primary home, meaning that you cannot be outside of the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 calendar months.

According to the Freedom of Information Act, from the 3,340 Tier 1 visa applications, 1,220 were made from China, 705 from Russia, 205 from the US and 170 from the UAE.


Student Visa

During 2015 there will be approximately 280,000 non-EU residents who will enter the UK via the Tier 4 Student Visa. The visa is available to all non-EU citizens who are studying on an approved higher education course.

Students must receive sponsorship from a university or UK educational institution, and the length of stay permitted will vary depending on the duration of the course. A typical scenario however would allow a student to stay for the length of the course, plus four months. For shorter courses this may be decreased to an additional one week after course completion.


Entrepreneur Visa

The Home Office issues approximately 1,200 Entrepreneur Visas every year for individuals who have a minimum of £200,000 to invest. There are a number of stipulations for a successful application including:

  • A long-term commitment to take on at least two employees. 
  • A minimum investment of £200,000 directly into a UK company.
  • Sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependants.
  • You must demonstrate a proficiency in English.
  • Registered as a director or self-employed.

The minimum age of application is 18, but the visa is an exciting opportunity for experienced business owners who want to move to the UK with their immediate family.


This post was written by Heather Landau, managing director of Immigration Into Europe. We offer our clients a set of immigration services including company formation, bookkeeping, virtual offices or introductions to investment programmes that will support all your immigration requirements.