UK Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP)

The rights of EU and EEA citizens and their families who were already established in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020 – continue to live, study and work in the UK, as well as to travel freely between the UK and the EU – are protected under the EU Settlement Scheme as a part of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

EU and EEA citizens can either apply for ‘settled’ status if they have lived in the UK for a consecutive five-year period prior to 31 December 2020; or for ‘pre-settled’ status if they have lived in the UK for a lesser period of time. ‘Pre-settled’ status will be granted for five years, during which time holders should become eligible for ‘settled’ status.

The deadline to apply was 30 June 2021 for most people. However, you can still apply if either:

You have a later deadline – for example, you’re joining a family member in the UK who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
You have ‘reasonable grounds’ for being unable to apply by 30 June 2021 – for example, you had an illness or were the victim of domestic abuse.


The UK introduced a new immigration regime following its departure from the EU, with a points-based system that subjects both EU and non-EU citizens to the same regulations. As of 1 January 2021, this amended most of the previous immigration routes into the UK, such as the Tier 1, Tier 2, Student and New Entrant route. Applicants require at least 70 points to be eligible for a visa.

The previous Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route has been replaced by a new fast-track ‘Global Talent’ visa, which enables recognised global leaders and promising individuals in science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology to come to the UK without a specific job offer, if endorsed by a recognised UK body.

New ‘Start-Up’ and ‘Innovator’ routes are designed to attract entrepreneurial talent and innovative, scalable business ideas to the UK. Start-up is for those setting up an innovative business for the first time, and Innovator is for those with industry experience and at least £50,000 funding. Applicants can be individuals or teams.

The previous Tier 2 route is replaced by a ‘Skilled Worker’ category, which applies to a larger pool of jobs because it opens up eligibility from the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Level 6 (Degree level) and above, to RQF Level 3 (A-Level) jobs. There is no cap on the number of people who can come to the UK and the resident labour market test has been abolished.

Points are assigned according specific skills, qualifications, salaries and shortage occupations, and applicants are required to score a total of 70 points. Basic requirements include proficiency in English (10 points), a confirmed job offer at the requisite skill level (20 points) from a Home Office-licensed sponsor (20 points).

To make up the remaining points to reach the 70 required, an additional 20 points can be obtained via a ‘tradeable’ process, largely dependent on the salary rate offered but also encompassing roles that are recognised as being a shortage occupation or those jobs requiring a relevant PhD-level qualification. There are also specific salary requirements for certain occupation sectors.

Further visa reforms

In his Spring 2021 Budget statement, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government is modernising the immigration system to help the UK attract and retain the most highly skilled, globally mobile talent – particularly in academia, science, research and technology. To achieve this, the government will:

Introduce, by March 2022, an elite points-based visa. Within this visa there will be a ‘scale-up’ stream, enabling those with a job offer from a recognised UK scale-up to qualify for a fast-track visa;
Reform the ‘Global Talent’ visa, including to allow holders of international prizes and winners of scholarships and programmes for early promise to qualify automatically;
Review the ‘Innovator’ visa to make it easier for those with the skills and experience to found an innovative business to obtain a visa;
Launch a new ‘Global Business Mobility’ visa (in place of the Representative of an Overseas Business category) for overseas businesses to establish a presence or transfer staff to the UK;
Provide practical support to small firms that are using the visa system for the first time;
Modernise the immigration sponsorship system to make it easier to use. The government will publish a delivery roadmap in the summer;
Establish a global outreach strategy by expanding the ‘Global Entrepreneur Programme’, marketing the UK’s visa offering and explore building an overseas talent network.

We await full details of the schemes, which are scheduled to be published in July. The government aims to implement and launch a number of the new schemes from March 2022.

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