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UK citizenship – what are the benefits of British passport and how to get it

It is very seldom that a decision to move to another country is taken impulsively, without careful deliberation, preparation and preliminary research. If you have considered all pluses and minuses and chosen the United Kingdom as your second home, do not expect it to be completely the same as you have imagined.

In this article, we will remind you which routes lead to a British passport. But first let us speak in detail about obvious advantages of living in the UK.

Rule of law

These are not just words. You might be able to benefit from this principle at the time of applying for the first visa. For example, if a case worker makes a mistake and refuses your application, you can always appeal that decision in an independent tribunal with the help of your immigration lawyer. On the other hand, if you breach a law or do not comply with legal requirements, you will not be welcome in Great Britain.

Another example. UK Immigration Rules say that a Tier 1 Investor can come to and leave the country as many times as they like, but if their days of absence exceed a permitted limit, they will not be able to apply for permanent residence, also called settlement or ILR. Neither could an investor do it without passing an English exam and Life in the UK test, though initial application for an Investor visa does not require it; all you need to do is to invest in an English company.

How will the rule of law in the UK apply to you? Simple, if you comply with all immigration regulations and requirements, doing your own research or consulting a qualified immigration lawyer, it will only be a matter of time before you can apply for naturalisation and British passport.

Prestigious education

If you want to give your children world-class education, the UK is the best solution. When planning a move, you will be looking for a good school or college. They say that a child would stand a better chance of going to a good university if they study at a public school.

There are many state schools in Great Britain, but public-school kids tend to show better academic results and build a fantastic career after graduation. The reason is that public schools focus on certain subject more than others and offer independent programs.

Why is school education so important? Because it is the results and achievements that universities are looking out for, not your money. They value their image and reputation and will not put up with underperforming students. The demand for British education is so high that your child could be easily expelled if they do not do as well as required academically.

Government support and social benefits

The British state takes an active part in supporting small and medium-size businesses because they pay taxes. It is a win-win situation. Therefore, it is easy to register a UK company while communications between the government and companies are minimised. Besides, there exist various business support programs and schemes as well as benefits and allowances for small companies.

Does the UK government care about people who live in the country? Yes, they definitely do. And the best proof of that is how they handled the COVID-19 crisis in spring and summer 2020. Millions of people were asked to self-isolate at home to prevent the spread of coronavirus which could have been disastrous for non-essential workers. However, the government did not let people down.

A furlough scheme, also called a job retention scheme, was introduced at the start of the lockdown and operated for several months. The Treasury committed to paying up to 80% of furloughed workers’ current salary up to £2,500 a month. The scheme helped many businesses and people to survive the virus outbreak while keeping safe.

Weather and climate

The UK is part of the northern Europe and people often think that’s it’s always raining here and the weather is really miserable. But that is not completely true. There are days and weeks when it is pouring, when the wind gets to your bones, but overall, thanks to Gulf-stream, UK climate is pleasant and mild. Winters are not too cold and summers are not too hot. If you are coming from a colder climate, British weather will be a blessing. If you are coming from a hot country, it can also be refreshing.

The best thing to do it to visit the country at least during summer and winter to get a feel for it. Nobody can guarantee how your body will react to British climate, but there are many accounts when people start feeling better.

How to choose a visa for moving to the UK?

UK visas for relocation, settlement and citizenship

How to become British?

We have covered only 4 advantages of life in the UK, but even that should be enough to make a decision whether or not to move here. As a rule, naturalisation in the UK takes a few years and requires the knowledge of English as well as history, customs and traditions of Great Britain.

Investor visa

This is your opportunity to get UK passport faster. By investing from £2 to £10 million into UK registered companies on the Investor visa route you can apply for permanent residence in 2 to 5 years depending on your investment. You can become naturalised after 5 or 6 years of continuously living in the UK, including the years before settlement. By “continuously living” we mean that you must spend most of the time in the UK and not be absent from it for more than 450 days in the 5 years preceding the naturalisation application. There can be exceptions to the rule if you have strong reasons for being absent longer and the Home Office accepts them.

Important! Applicants for Tier 1 Investor visa do not need to take an English language test or prove their skills and qualification. Besides, when in the UK, investors and their family member are free to do what they want.

Innovator visa and Start-up visa

These are categories of business visas but not as flexible as an investor visa. Both Innovators and Start-up entrepreneurs are strictly limited to what they can do in the UK, they must pass an English test, have a certain skill set and get an endorsement from an approved organisation. The main thing is that your business must bear fruits and be beneficial to the society.

A Start-up visa suits newbie entrepreneurs with ambitious ideas while an Innovator visa is ideal for experienced businessmen with £50,000 available to invest in their company. In average, 6 years will pass from the moment you arrive in the UK on a business visa to naturalisation.

Representative of an Overseas Business visa

This route will also take 6 years to British citizenship. Applicants for a Representative visa must also pass an English test, have a relevant education and job experience. However, there will be almost no personal costs to you; the parent company will pay for everything.

Sole Rep visa is a perfect solution for experienced top managers that have relevant knowledge and skills to be appointed by shareholders of the parent company to represent the business in the UK.

Family visas: spouse/civil partner visa, fiancée/fiancé visa

It is not hard to guess that this category is for those who have found their second half in the UK. Immigration authorities are very strict to applicants for family visas to the UK and their sponsors. However, if you are truly creating a family unit with a UK resident, you can apply for UK naturalisation in 5-6 years.

Work visa

Are you a qualified skilled worker and have a job offer from a UK employer? Then a work visa is for you. Be prepared to comply with a lot of requirements concerning your education, qualification and knowledge of English. The company that wishes to employ you must have a sponsorship licence, be prepared to pay a required minimum and do a labour market test to prove they have not found anyone else from the pool of UK residents.

There are also work visas for intra-company transfers, visas for ministers of religions and professional sportsmen.

If you establish long-term relationship with your employer, you and your family can apply for UK permanent residence after 5 years of moving to the country and a year later get British passports.

Student visa

You speak at least some English, you have money to pay for tuition and you have got a place in a school, college or university that is ready to sponsor you? Apply for a study visa. Though this category does not lead to UK citizenship, years that you spend in the country on study visas can be included in the 10 years of minimum residence after which you can apply for settlement or an indefinite leave to remain.

Want to know more about relocating to the UK and visas? Go to our website or talk to our expert lawyers. No matter what visa you opt for, immigration advisers at Imperial & Legal are always happy to support you in both obtaining a visa and organising your move to the UK. They will also help to start your business and provide some admin support, at least at the beginning.

FAQ about obtaining British citizenship

What other advantages do holders of a British passport have?

  • The most obvious advantage is an absolutely safe and comfortable life on the British Isles due to economic prosperity of the UK, high living standards and low crime level.
  • The UK is often chosen for tax optimisation. Though British tax legislation can hardly be called soft and liberal, it provides new residents with a range of options to reduce their tax burden. If you feel like taking this advantage, book a consultation with our legal advisors.
  • Entrepreneurs apply for British citizenship to have successful business in the United Kingdom. In Great Britain, you will find the optimal conditions for business activities, such as vast markets, well developed infrastructure, reliable banks, economic stability, tax exemptions and direct support of the government.
  • Even after Brexit, British citizens enjoy the right to stay in the European Union for up to 90 days without a visa. A British passport gives you a lot of opportunities to travel around the world. As of the start of 2021, holders of a British passport can visit 185 countries.

Can I get a British visa if I do not speak English?

Yes, you can. There are several ways how you can get a British leave to remain or enter even if you do not speak English. Unfortunately, seeking political asylum in Great Britain can hardly be called an exception nowadays. However, this topic goes beyond the framework of our overview.

A less extreme option is acquiring a Tier 1 Investor visa. Since a prospective candidate applying for this visa is expected to invest at least £2,000,000 in shares of UK-registered businesses, the British authorities set rather low requirements for the applicant and their family. For instance, they do not have to speak the language of the country they invest in even at A1 level.

However, if you plan to apply for an indefinite leave to remain in Great Britain, you and your family will have to prove a good command of English. Those who feel like becoming proud holders of a British passport also need to know English at a relatively good level.

With the help of Imperial & Legal specialists, you will be able to acquire an investor visa as soon as practically possible and to invest your finances smartly so that they will bring you not only your investor visa but a good income as well.

If my child is born in Great Britain, will it be a sufficient reason to grant him or her British citizenship?

Unfortunately, it will not. Unlike in the United States, the mere fact that your child is born on the British Isles is not enough for his or her further naturalisation.

However, it would be a mistake to say that only the so called ‘right of blood’ is in effect in the UK. For a child to get a British passport, at least one of his or her parents must be a British subject.  Children born in the United Kingdom are entitled to British citizenship even if their parents hold only an indefinite leave to remain.

Prospective citizens who are legally staying in the country but have not been granted ILR yet can apply for naturalisation of their newly born children. If a child was born abroad but at least one parent had acquired a British passport or ILR before the child turned 18, the immigration authorities might also grant citizenship.

However, if children have already turned 10 years old when the application for naturalisation is filed, they need to meet the ‘good character requirement’ that means their criminal record will be checked. Besides, in your application, you will need to give names of two independent referees. These are public officers and British citizens over 25 years old who know your children but are not related to them or to the applicant. It is highly probable that children aged over 16 will not be granted a British passport but they can be naturalised after they turn 18.

Which visa type out of the ones listed in this article does not guarantee ILR and citizenship?

A Start-up visa is designed for entrepreneurs who want to start their business in the UK. It is issued only for two years and thus does not lead to granting citizenship. Your business project is expected to be developing so when your Start-up visa expires, you will be able to switch to an Innovator visa easily, provided your project is successful.

Student visas do not guarantee citizenship either but they give you a chance to add the years spent in the UK with these visas to overall years of residence in Great Britain – 10 years are necessary to obtain ILR. Note that you should not leave the UK for a long time after you have completed your studies. In other words, you need to find a company to do your internship while studying in the UK in order to apply for a work visa and stay in Great Britain.

Takeaway: as a beginning entrepreneur or a student you will hardly be naturalised but time spent in the UK with such visas can be included in the 10-year period necessary to apply for ILR if you have not left Great Britain for a long period of time.

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