The Guernsey Entrepreneur Visa – a pathway to British citizenship

There is more than one way to secure a British passport as an entrepreneur. You can do this not only through staying in the United Kingdom, but also through staying one of the British “Crown Dependencies”. These are three island territories located within the British Isles. There is the Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Isle of Man. The territory covered by the two Bailiwicks is referred to as the Channel Islands, because the islands are in the English Channel near France. The Isle of Man is in the Irish Sea between the UK and Ireland. 

These are not part of the United Kingdom, but are closely connected to it. They are each self-governing, with their own legal systems, including each having its own immigration and tax system, with unique visa pathways. However, they are not independent sovereign states, and its nationals are British nationals. The island of Guernsey is a British Crown Dependency located within sight of the Normandy coast of France and just a 40 minute flight from London.

The benefits of Guernsey are: 

  1. It is not a part of the UK for immigration purposes (up to and including indefinite leave to remain), but it is a part of the UK for nationality purposes. This means that there is no separate Guernsey citizenship, there is only British citizenship. You qualify to naturalise as a British citizen one year after getting Guernsey ILR.  It used to be the case that it did not give you free access to the EU, but now that the UK has left the UK as well, there is no difference. The British passport you have is a “full” British passport and the same as if you had spent your five years in the UK;
  2. Guernsey has a different immigration system, including a £200,000 visa route, and a £1m investor visa route;
  3. When you come to apply to naturalise as a British citizen, time in Guernsey will count towards the qualifying five years that you need. In this way, you can become a British citizen without setting foot in the United Kingdom!
  4. Its tax system is much more favourable than living within the UK; 
  5. It is within the open borders Common Travel Area of Britain and Ireland. So you do not need a further travel document for travel between the UK and Guernsey;
  6. It is English-speaking;
  7. It has a thriving entrepreneur community and welcomes people who wish to set up a business or home on the island. 

In Guernsey, the Entrepreneur visa is a subcategory of the ‘Business Person’ visa. There is no Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa for Guernsey. They still have a pre-points based system for business people and investors. The Bailiwick of Guernsey has three internal jurisdictions: Guernsey itself, then the islands of Alderney and Sark. We are dealing here with Guernsey itself.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to apply for the Guernsey Entrepreneur Visa, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • You must have £200,000 of your own money (under your control and disposable in Guernsey) which is held in your name (not by a trust or investment vehicle) which you will be investing in the business in Guernsey. But what are the eligible business types? A milk and dairy business, for example, is not going to work. Guernsey’s milk and dairy business is well established! Real Estate businesses may qualify, as there is a thriving Real Estate market in Guernsey. The digital and gaming space holds the most success. There have also been some successful applications recently in catering and hospitality businesses. Fintech is also very active. 
  • You must have sufficient additional funds to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependents; 
  • You must be involved in the business full-time either trading or providing services or as a director;
  • You must have a controlling or equal interest in the business (which is proportionate to the level of investment);
  • You must prove that your share of the profits (once your business is established) will be sufficient to support yourself and your dependents; and
  • You must prove your proficiency in the English language. 

(paragraph 201, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008)

If you intend to take over an existing business in Guernsey or join as a partner or director, you will need to produce the following additional evidence: 

  • A written statement of the terms on which you will takeover or join the business; 
  • Audited accounts for the business for previous years; and 
  • Evidence that your services and investment will result in a significant net increase in the employment provided by the business to persons settled in Guernsey or that his services and investment will otherwise be in the general interests of Guernsey.

(paragraph 202, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008)

If you intend to establish a new business in Guernsey, you will need to need to produce the following additional evidence: 

  • That you will be bringing sufficient funds to establish a business into Guernsey; and
  • That the business will create significant new full-time paid employment for persons already settled in Guernsey or that the establishment of the new business will otherwise be in the general interests of Guernsey.

(paragraph 203, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008)

Documents Required

Contact me for a list of the documents required.  

Application Process

You can contact me for details of the process. 

Can I Bring my Dependents? 

Yes, your spouse or civil partner and dependent children (under the age of 18) may apply at the same time as you (paragraphs 240-245 Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). Their leave will only be valid for as long as yours. They will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (indefinite leave to remain) and British citizenship at the same time as you. You must be able to adequately house and maintain your dependents.

There is no requirement for the spouse of a Guernsey Entrepreneur Visa holder to meet the 180 day requirement for ILR (Paragraph 242 D, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). So this means that if your spouse applies for the visa, then you can stay out of Guernsey for more than 6 months per year and still qualify for indefinite leave to remain, and a year later for citizenship. 

Route to UK Citizenship

STAGE 1 – Leave to enter will be granted for an initial period of 2 years (paragraph 204, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). You should apply for an extension at least 3 months before the end of your initial visa period. In order to acquire an extension you must have invested the £200,000 and met the conditions under which the original visa was granted (paragraph 206 Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). An extension will be granted for a term of 3 years (paragraph 207, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). 

STAGE 2 – After spending a continuous 5 year period in Guernsey you may be eligible for ILR. In addition to continuing to meet the requirements set out for the extension application (above), you will need to: 

  • Submit audited accounts for the first 4 years of trading and management accounts for the 5th year; and
  • Pass an English Language Test and Knowledge of Life test about life in the UK and Guernsey (paragraph 209, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008).

N.B. A continuous 5-year period in Guernsey will be broken if you are absent from Guernsey for more than 180 days in any year preceding the date of your application for ILR (paragraph 128A, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). 

STAGE 3 – After 12 months living with ILR status in Guernsey, you may apply for naturalisation as a British citizen (section 6(1), paragraph (2)(c) British Nationality Act 1981). In order to apply for British Citizenship you must not have been absent from the UK (which is defined for these purposes as including Guernsey) for more than 450 days in the preceding 5 year period and you must not be absent for more than 90 days in the preceding 12 months (section 6(1), paragraph 2 (a) & (b) British Nationality Act 1981). You must also have passed the Knowledge of Life in the UK Test and have sufficient knowledge of the English language (section 6(1), paragraph 1 (c) & (ca) British nationality Act 1981). 

Travel to the UK

The UK, Channel Islands (which include Guernsey), the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland collectively form the Common Travel Area (CTA). If you have been granted permission to enter Guernsey, you will not need to apply for leave to enter another part of the CTA, you are therefore free to travel to the UK (paragraph 15, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). 

However, if you intend to secure ILR in Guernsey, then you must not spend more than 180 days in any year outside of Guernsey (paragraph 128A, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). 

Once you have attained British citizenship you may live anywhere within the CTA.

Fees

  • Application for entry clearance: £516 per person plus £55 document submission fee (TOTAL = £571)
  • Priority Service for entry clearance application: £212 per person
  • Super Priority Service for entry clearance application: £956 per person 

(schedule 10, Table 26 & 27 The Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations 2018)

Paragraph 15, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008

https://www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=119151&p=0

Common Travel Area

15. The United Kingdom, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland collectively form a common travel area. A person who has been examined for the purpose of immigration control at the point at which he entered the area does not normally require leave to enter any other part of it. However certain persons subject to the Immigration (Control of Entry through the Republic of Ireland) (Guernsey) (No. 1) Order 1972b as amended and Immigration (Control of Entry through the Republic of Ireland) (Guernsey) (No. 2) Order 1972  as amended who enter the Bailiwick of Guernsey through the Republic of Ireland do require leave to enter. This includes –

  1. those who merely passed through the Republic of Ireland,
  2. persons requiring visas,
  3. persons who entered the Republic of Ireland unlawfully,
  4. persons who are subject to directions given by the Lieutenant Governor for their exclusion from the Bailiwick of Guernsey on the ground that their exclusion is conducive to the public good,
  5. persons who entered the Republic from the United Kingdom and Islands after entering there unlawfully or overstaying their leave.

Paragraph 128A, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008

https://www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=119151&p=0

128A. For the purposes of references in this Part to requirements for indefinite leave to remain –

a) “continuous period of 5 years in the Bailiwick of Guernsey” means residence in the Bailiwick of

Guernsey for an unbroken period with valid leave, and for these purposes a period shall not be considered to have been broken where –

  1. the applicant has been absent from the Bailiwick of Guernsey for a period of 180 days or less in any of the five consecutive 12 calendar month periods preceding the date of the application for indefinite leave to remain, and
  2. the applicant has existing limited leave to enter or remain upon their departure and return, except that where that leave expired no more than 28 days prior to a further application for entry clearance, that period and any period pending the determination of that application shall be disregarded, and
  3. the applicant has any period of overstaying between periods of entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain of up to 28 days and any period of overstaying pending the determination of an application made within that 28 day period disregarded, and

…..

Paragraphs 200-210, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008

https://www.gov.gg/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=119151&p=0

Requirements for leave to enter the Bailiwick of Guernsey as a person intending to establish himself in business.

200. For the purpose of paragraphs 201-210 a business means an enterprise

as –

  • a sole trader, or
  • a partnership, or
  • a company registered in the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

201. The requirements to be met by a person seeking leave to enter the Bailiwick of Guernsey to establish himself in business are that he has the approval of the Home Department and –

  1. that he satisfies the requirements of either paragraph 202 or paragraph 203, and
  2. that he has not less than £200,000 of his own money under his control and disposable in the Bailiwick of Guernsey which is held in his own name and not by a trust or other investment vehicle and which he will be investing in the business in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and
  3. that until his business provides him with an income he will have sufficient additional funds to maintain and accommodate himself and any dependants without recourse to employment (other than his work for the business) or to public funds, and
  4. that he will be actively involved full-time in trading or providing services on his own account or in partnership, or in the promotion and management of the company as 90 a director, and
  5. that his level of financial investment will be proportional to his interest in the business, and
  6. that he will have either a controlling or equal interest in the business and that any partnership or directorship does not amount to disguised employment, and
  7. that he will be able to bear his share of liabilities, and
  8. that there is a genuine need for his investment and services in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and
  9. that his share of the profits of the business will be sufficient to maintain and accommodate himself and any dependants without recourse to employment (other than his work for the business) or to public funds, and
  10. that he does not intend to supplement his business activities by taking or seeking employment in the Bailiwick of Guernsey other than his work for the business, and

that he meets one or more of the following conditions –

  1. he is a national of a majority English speaking country, or
  2. he has obtained a qualification or results from an English language test, and –
    1. has provided evidence of the qualification or results that clearly shows his name, the qualification or results obtained, and the date the qualification was awarded or the results obtained, and
    2. the qualification or results obtained, in the opinion of an Immigration Officer, meets or exceeds the level of English language required for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrants under the  Points Based System, or
    3. he holds a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a United Kingdom Bachelors degree or above, and

that he holds a valid entry clearance for entry in this capacity.

202. Where a person intends to take over or join as a partner or director an existing business in the Bailiwick of Guernsey he will need, in addition to meeting the requirements at paragraph 201, to produce –

  • a written statement of the terms on which he is to take over or join the business, and
  • audited accounts for the business for previous years, and
  • evidence that his services and investment will result in a significant net increase in the employment provided by the business to persons settled in the Bailiwick of Guernsey or that his services and investment will otherwise be in the general interests of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

203. Where a person intends to establish a new business in the Bailiwick of Guernsey he will need, in addition to meeting the requirements at paragraph 201 above, to produce evidence –

  • that he will be bringing into the Bailiwick of Guernsey sufficient funds of his own to establish a business, and
  • that the business will create significant new full-time paid employment for persons already settled in the Bailiwick of Guernsey or that the establishment of the new business will otherwise be in the general interests of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

Leave to enter the Bailiwick of Guernsey as a person seeking to establish himself in business.

204. A person seeking leave to enter the Bailiwick of Guernsey to establish himself in business may be admitted for a period not exceeding 2 years with a condition restricting his freedom to take employment provided he is able to produce to the Immigration Officer, on arrival, a valid entry clearance for entry in this capacity.

Refusal of leave to enter the Bailiwick of Guernsey as a person seeking to establish himself in business.

205. Leave to enter the Bailiwick of Guernsey as a person seeking to establish himself in business is to be refused if a valid entry clearance for entry in this capacity is not produced to the Immigration Officer on arrival. 

Requirements for an extension of stay in order to remain in business.

206. The requirements for an extension of stay in order to remain in business in the Bailiwick of Guernsey are that the applicant has the continued approval of the Home Department and can show –

  1. that he entered the Bailiwick of Guernsey with a valid entry clearance as a businessman, and
  2. audited accounts which show the precise financial position of the business and which confirm that he has invested not less than £200,000 of his own money directly into the business in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and
  3. that he is actively involved on a full-time basis on trading or providing services on his own account or in partnership or in the promotion and management of the company as a director, and
  4. that his level of financial investment is proportional to his interest in the business, and
  5. that he has either a controlling or equal interest in the business and that any partnership or directorship does not amount to disguised employment, and
  6. that he is able to bear his share of any liability the business may incur, and
  7. that there is a genuine need for his investment and  services in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and
    1. that where he has established a new business, significant new full-time paid employment has been created in the business for persons settled in the Bailiwick of Guernsey or that the establishment of the new business has otherwise been in the general interests of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, or
    2. that where he has taken over or joined an existing business, his services and investment have resulted in a significant net increase in the employment provided by the business to persons settled here or that his services and investment have otherwise been in the general interests of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and
  8. that his share of the profits of the business is sufficient to maintain and accommodate him and any dependants without recourse to employment (other than his work for the business) or to public funds, and
  9. that he does not and will not have to supplement his business activities by taking or seeking employment in the Bailiwick of Guernsey other than his work for the business.

Extension of stay in order to remain in business.

207. An extension of stay in order to remain in business with a condition restricting his freedom to take employment may be granted for a period not exceeding 3 years at a time provided the Lieutenant Governor is satisfied that each of the requirements of paragraph 206 is met.

Refusal of extension of stay in order to remain in business.

208. An extension of stay in order to remain in business is to be refused if the Lieutenant Governor is not satisfied that each of the requirements of paragraph 206 is met.

Indefinite leave to remain for a person established in business.

209. Indefinite leave to remain may be granted, on application, to a person established in business provided he –

  • has spent a continuous period of 5 years in the Bailiwick of Guernsey in this capacity and is still engaged in the business in question, and
  • has met the requirements of paragraph 206 throughout the 5 year period, and
  • submits audited accounts for the first 4 years of trading and management accounts for the 5th year, and
  • has sufficient knowledge of the English language and sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom and Bailiwick of Guernsey, unless he is under the age of 18 or aged 65 or over at the time he makes his application, and
  • does not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal, and
  • is not in the Bailiwick of Guernsey in breach of immigration laws, except that any period of overstaying for a period of 28 days or less will be disregarded.

Refusal of indefinite leave to remain for a person established in business.

210. Indefinite leave to remain in the Bailiwick of Guernsey for a person established in business is to be refused if the Lieutenant Governor is not satisfied that each of the requirements of paragraph 209 is met.

Paragraph 242D, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008

Requirements for indefinite leave to remain as the spouse of a person who has or has had leave to enter or remain in the Bailiwick of Guernsey under paragraphs 200-239.

242D. The requirements to be met by a person seeking indefinite leave to remain in the Bailiwick of Guernsey as the spouse of a person who has or has had leave to enter or remain in the Bailiwick of Guernsey under paragraphs 200-239 are that the applicant –

  • is married to a person who has limited leave to enter or remain in the Bailiwick of Guernsey under paragraphs 200-239 and who is being granted indefinite leave to remain at the same time, or
  • is married to a person who has indefinite leave to remain in the Bailiwick of Guernsey and who had limited leave to enter or remain under paragraphs 200- 239 immediately before being granted indefinite leave to remain, and
  • meets the requirements of paragraph 240(ii) to (v),
  • has sufficient knowledge of the English language and sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom and Bailiwick of Guernsey, unless the applicant is under the age of 18 or aged 65 or over at the time he makes his application, and
  • was admitted with a valid entry clearance for entry in this capacity, and
  • does not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal, and
  • is not in the Bailiwick of Guernsey in breach of  immigration laws except that any period of overstaying for a period of 28 days or less will be disregarded.

Section 6(1) British Nationality Act 1981

Subject to paragraph 2, the requirements for naturalisation as a British citizen under section 6(1) are, in the case of any person who applies for it—

  • the requirements specified in sub-paragraph (2) of this paragraph, or the alternative requirement specified in sub-paragraph (3) of this paragraph; and
  • that he is of good character; and
  • that he has a sufficient knowledge of the English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic language; and
    • that he has sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom; and
  • that either—
    • his intentions are such that, in the event of a certificate of naturalisation as a British citizen being granted to him, his home or (if he has more than one) his principal home will be in the United Kingdom; or
    • he intends, in the event of such a certificate being granted to him, to enter into, or continue in, Crown service under the government of the United Kingdom, or service under an international organisation of which the United Kingdom or Her Majesty’s government therein is a member, or service in the employment of a company or association established in the United Kingdom.

The requirements referred to in sub-paragraph (1)(a) of this paragraph are—

  • that the applicant was in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the period of five years ending with the date of the application, and that the number of days on which he was absent from the United Kingdom in that period does not exceed 450; and
  • that the number of days on which he was absent from the United Kingdom in the period of twelve months so ending does not exceed 90; and
  • that he was not at any time in the period of twelve months so ending subject under the immigration laws to any restriction on the period for which he might remain in the United Kingdom; and
  • that he was not at any time in the period of five years so ending in the United Kingdom in breach of the immigration laws.

The Immigration Nationality and Fees Regulations 2018

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/330/pdfs/uksi_20180330_en.pdf

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