The UK is the global leader in e-commerce, spending more per capita than any other country.

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2014: a year of major changes to immigration laws


28 October 2014

SHORT

The year 2014 has seen major changes to UK immigration laws. The 2014 Immigration Act, passed in May, marked a significant step in the government’s ongoing programme to reform the immigration system. October saw important additional changes introduced to Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur visas.

 

The Immigration Act of 2014 includes, among other things, measures to counter ‘sham marriages’ and a simplification of the appeals process. For the latter, a new system is put in place, which will enable applicants to appeal to immigration refusal only under fundamental rights to which the UK has made international commitments, such as the Human Rights Act.

 

The new system will effectively be based on the existing ‘out of country’ entry clearance refusals applications. With regard to marriage, the new Immigration Act sees notices of marriages involving non-EEA nationals being automatically referred to the Home Office in cases where that person could gain an immigration advantage from the marriage. This referral may lead to investigation by the Secretary of State, which in turn, may lead to nullification of such an advantage or even prosecution of the parties involved. Other significant provisions of the Act concern migrants’ limited access to NHS services, restrictions on the ability to open a bank account as well as restrictions on the availability of UK driving licences.

 

October saw important changes to both the Entrepreneur and Investor Tier 1 visas. Most notably, the minimum investment amount necessary for Tier 1 Investor visas was increased from £1 million to £2 million. Moreover, 100% of the funds must now be invested in UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.

 

Previous rules allowed up to 25% to be invested in property. Additionally, the previous requirement that an investment must be “topped up” if its market value falls is removed. Instead, Tier 1 (Investor) Migrants will only need to purchase new qualifying investments if they sell part of their portfolios. Furthermore, the existing provision under which the required investment sum can be sourced as a loan is being removed. Should you have any questions regarding these changes, do not hesitate to contact InvestUK today.


Immigration brings net-benefits to the UK economy


13 August 2014

SHORT

Immigration brings several tangible economic and fiscal benefits to the UK economy, studies show.

Immigration brings net-fiscal benefits to public finances, and it has a positive impact on worker productivity, as well. Recent studies by the University of Oxford, UCL and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) all point to similar conclusions.

The study by UCL finds that immigrants from the European Economic Area contributed £8.8bn more to public finances than they received in benefits between 1995 and 2001. More recent migrants contributed even more. Even when the data is adjusted to factor in differences in gender, age and education level, recent migrants are still 21 % less likely than natives to be living off benefits.

More generally, immigration expands the economy as new migrants create demand while bringing into the country valuable talents and human capital. Immigrants provide UK companies with a distinct pool of talent. The research suggests that immigrants, on average, boost the UK economy without doing much, if any, damage to the prospects for native workers. The common claim that immigration suppresses wages and reduces available jobs does not even stand up to the general observations. Wages are generally higher and jobs easier to come by in areas of high immigration like London, while many low migration areas have relatively depressed labour markets. Immigrants earn money, spend money and set up businesses, which increases the demand for labour. A native British worker may find a job that may have been created, directly or indirectly, as a result of immigration.

Moreover, recent work by NIESR suggests that immigration has positive effects on labour productivity: industries with higher shares of migrants have higher worker productivity. There is a particularly high correlation between employee origin and productivity in the manufacturing and real estate sectors. Immigrants have different skills and experiences to native workers. This means that they complement rather than substitute for native workers, helping raise wages and productivity for everybody.

More on the topic:

The Migration Observatory (University of Oxford)
Centre for Research & Analysis of Migration (UCL)
National Institute of Economic and Social Research


The UK’s taxation is another benefit to high-value immigrants


29 July 2014

SHORT

The UK is known for its rewarding lifestyle among high-value immigrants – those who bring talent, knowledge and investment to the UK. The country offers a leading private education system, an unparalleled financial system, and a rich, world-class cultural scene. The UK remains one of the most attractive countries to conduct business, and it offers a trustful legal system. What is less often talked about is the UK’s tax system, which provides enviable benefits in comparison to other Western countries.

The UK offers tax breaks for non-domiciled individuals who take up residence in the UK. In general, residents pay tax on their worldwide income and gains whilst non-residents are generally only taxed on income from sources in the UK. However, individuals resident but not domiciled in the UK can elect to be taxed on the remittance basis. For the first seven years of UK residency, this means that tax on non-UK income will be taxed only when remitted to the UK. Moreover, the government has announced plans to remove the tax charge where non-UK domiciled individuals remit income or capital gains to the UK for the purposes of commercial investment in UK businesses. The government is also committed to keeping the country ‘open for business’ by keeping taxes low for businesses in general. The UK has one of the largest double-tax treaty networks in the world with over 120 countries, including China.

The main rate of corporate tax in the UK is currently 21%, but it is expected to be lowered to 20% on 1 April 2015. Small companies (profits less than £300,000) are currently subject to corporate tax at 20%. The current standard value-added tax (VAT) is 20%, and some goods and services are subject to a reduced rate. The standard stamp duty rate is 0.5%, which must be paid on transfers of shares and certain securities. Again, there are certain reliefs and exemptions from the duty. The current income tax rates are 0% for personal allowance (£0-£10,000), 20% for the basic rate (£10,001-£41,865), 40% for the higher rate (£41,866-£150,000) and 45% for the additional rate (over £150,000). Dividend tax rates are 10% at or below the basic rate, 32.5% at or below the higher tax rate and 37.5% above the higher tax rate. Capital gains tax is paid on the disposal of certain assets at a rate of 18% or 28% (for higher and additional rate taxpayers). The UK is still criticised for its high inheritance tax, which, on UK assets, is 40 % for sums over £325,000.