What are the special rules on entry for work and business for self employed creatives or investors?

What do the immigration rules deal with in terms of entry for business?

The relevant part of the immigration rules to look at here is part 6. This outlines the rules on leave to enter or leave to remain for people seeking to set up a business. Also in part 6 you find provision to enter the UK as an investor. No specific type of business is specified at any time in the immigration rules. Similarly, according to paragraph 200 of part 6, a business may refer to any of: a sole trader, partnership or company.

The business may be a new business or an existing one but the applicant must have at least £200, 000 of their own money to invest. The money must be new money (i.e. not already invested in the business), held in an account in the applicant’s name and not tied up otherwise e.g. in a house. Basically, they should show that the money is fresh and readily available should the application be successful. The applicant must also demonstrate that the business needs this much investment. It is less important to show that the business will be profitable and that there is a gap in the UK market for such a business. According to paragraph 201 of part 6, the applicant must also show that two new jobs will be created as a result of either a start up of a new business or new investment in an existing one. This demonstrates the economic benefit to this country of this migrant being permitted to enter or remain here.

General visitors are not permitted to switch into a business category but a certain range of highly skilled migrants may be permitted, if they meet the requirements. However, the rules strive to ensure that no disguised applications for employment are successful on a business application using false information. The applicant must show that they are financially self sufficient and this category must not be used by a business for an employee (as opposed to a partner) as this would be classed as subverting the existing work permit system.

What are the immigration rules for writers, composers and artists?

The rules for writers, composers and artists are not nearly as extensive as they are for those wishing to enter to start or join a business. There are no detailed requirements for a minimum amount of investment or creation of new jobs, for instance.

The individual must be established in their work, firstly. This means that they have had their work published, exhibited or performed. It also means that they must be able to support themselves (and any dependents on the application) from this ‘self employment’ alone. This means they must only work as a writer/ composer/ artist. According to paragraphs 232 – 239, they must not engage in any other forms of work but it is permitted that resources other than the current proceeds of their work be used e.g. monies resulting from past work.

In creative careers, who may apply under the immigration rules and who should apply for a work permit?

Paragraph 232 distinguishes between playwrights, classed as writers so can apply under the rules, and television or radio scriptwriters who must apply for a work permit as an ‘entertainer’. Another grey area comes for artists who create installations involving the body – are they sculptors or artists (who can apply under the immigration rules) or dancers (entertainers who need a work permit)?

Similarly, a singer/songwriter crosses the boundaries of composer and musician. The former comes within the rules, the latter needs a work permit. The self employment aspect of an application as a composer would come under threat with regard to the agreement to undertake no other employment if they were to be paid to sing, for instance. It has been suggested that a composer should only take gigs like this that involve singing, and not purely conducting their own work, with the prior permission of a specific work permit to avoid any problems. It is further complicated, though, by the fact that it is currently very difficult to get a work permit for singing unless the applicant is a well known singer.

What are the immigration rules for investors?

Provisions were made in 1994 in part 6 of the immigration rules for investors wishing to enter the U.K. The figures involved in this instance are much higher. The applicant must have £1 million of their own, available money and they must intend to invest at least £750,000 of this in the UK Paragraph 224 states that this can be ‘by way of UK Government Bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.’

The applicant must intend to make the UK their main home. They must be able to support themselves, and all dependents, without recourse to public funds. More appropriately, they must agree not to undertake any employment and be able to support themselves, after this minimum amount is invested, without doing so. The reason for this is again that this would circumvent the work permit scheme that is in place.

If an applicant is successful in applying to enter as an investor then they will be granted an initial leave period of 12 months. After this twelve months, if the applicant has complied with all immigration rules then they may apply to extend this period to five years – the dependents’ leave will mirror that of the main applicant. Entry of an investor, unsurprisingly considering the wealth involved, may lead to settlement after the extension of five years is complete.