Insight

Why choose? Living in the UK and Ireland

21/06/2022
Why choose? Living in the UK and Ireland

Did you know that once you have citizenship in either the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland, you and your family have the right to reside in the other, and enjoy the same associated privileges, including the right to work, study and vote in certain elections, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services?

In this article, we explain why and how, and delve a little deeper into the historical links between the UK and Ireland and the cultural similarities between the two. In addition, we speak to a UK immigration expert, who shares the latest UK immigration policies, opportunities for emigration following the close of the UK Tier 1 investor visa, and an alternative immigration route to the UK.

The United Kingdom and Ireland

Historically, relations between the United Kingdom and Ireland have been influenced by issues arising from their shared history, with Ireland flitting from periods where it was under the control of Great Britain and times when it was fighting to establish or maintain independence.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, war and colonization saw Ireland come under the control of the English. In 1782, Ireland gained near-independence from Great Britain, but in 1801, the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Violent campaigns for autonomy followed, culminating with a war of independence that ended with the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921. This saw the partition of Ireland into the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland, the latter which remained part of the UK. In 1937, Ireland declared itself fully independent of the UK.

Both Ireland and the UK joined the European Union in 1973. In June 2016, the UK held a referendum in which a majority voted to leave the EU. Brexit became effective in early 2020 with a deal reached on 24 December 2020, keeping Northern Ireland in the European Union Single Market for goods and maintaining a free border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland became the only English-speaking country in the EU.

Culturally, the four nations of the British Isles (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have many similarities and people travel between each nation as if it were one.

Geographically, the UK shares a 499km international land border with the Republic of Ireland. And Dublin, the Republic of Ireland’s capital, is just 288 miles from London—a flight takes less than 1.5 hours and is very reasonably priced, with tickets available from £12 for a one-way trip and from £30 for a round trip. It’s therefore no surprise that people who live in Dublin might pop over to London for a weekend shopping trip or a UEFA champions league game during the football season.

Living in Ireland has many similarities to living in the UK – particularly when it comes to accessing good quality education. The UK and Ireland have very similar education systems and both provide a world-class education. In each country, there are five stages of education – early years (nursery), primary, secondary, further education (FE) and higher education. Irish secondary graduates can apply to study in UK universities through their schools or through the UCAS website, and there is a point-based system that can be used to compare the grades of the Leaving Certificate in Ireland with GCSE and A-level results in the UK. Likewise, British students can apply for undergraduate courses in Ireland through the Central Applications Office (CAO) – the Irish equivalent of UCAS.

In both Ireland and the UK, students are admitted onto a specific course rather than to a university. They are accepted, for example, to study Nursing at Queen’s University in Belfast, or to study Business & Management Studies at University College Cork (UCC). Some subjects in Irish universities are ranked among the top 50 in the world for their area or speciality. In 2021, the highest rank for Ireland was University College Dublin’s (UCD) Veterinary Science department, which placed 23rd in the QS World University Rankings by Subject. It was closely followed by the English Language and Literature programme at Trinity College Dublin, in 25th position. Between them, UCD and Trinity held eight top 50 positions, while University College Cork placed 49th for Nursing.

Additionally, due to Ireland’s burgeoning start-up, FinTech and entrepreneurship scene, some business courses at Irish universities have outperformed those in other UK and European universities, with the highest number of graduates going on to become entrepreneurs. The table above shows the top 10 universities in Europe by entrepreneur count, as well as the number of companies founded by those entrepreneurs, and the total of venture capital raised, according to PitchBook, a platform that provides financial data.

Common Travel Area arrangements (CTA)

The Common Travel Area (CTA) is a long-standing arrangement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies and Ireland that pre-dates both British and Irish membership of the EU and is not dependent on it.

Under the CTA, British and Irish citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and privileges, including the right to work, study and vote in certain elections, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services.

The UK and Irish governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in May 2019 reaffirming their commitment to maintain the CTA, and the associated rights and privileges, in all circumstances, and the CTA remains unchanged after Brexit.

UK immigration policies update and alternatives

2022 is shaping up to be a year of change with regard to UK immigration. The UK government has announced wide-ranging updates its Immigration Rules. Families who are planning to move to the UK through the non-BNO route may face challenges due to these policy changes, but rest assured, there are alternatives to the UK.

We spoke to Janine Miu, founder of UK Immigration Specialist, and a specialist in UK Immigration Law, about the changes to the UK immigration policy, the visa programmes that are currently available, and her views on an alternative route to the UK via Irish immigration by investment.

Following the closure of the UK Tier 1 investor visa, families and non-BNO passport holders who are looking to emigrate to a place that offers a high degree of residing flexibility, and who may still have an ultimate goal to live in the UK, can consider the IIP. Janine recommends it as a good alternative.

The IIP allows families to receive their Irish permanent residency in about six months, and families are only required to spend one day per calendar year in Ireland to maintain their residency status. After five years, they can apply for citizenship and receive a passport. Irish nationals enjoy a right of residence in the UK under the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangement.

It’s important to note that the Enterprise Investment option in the IIP has 100% capital protection, meaning that investors can take their 1 million euros back at the end of the investment period, while investments in the UK Investor Visa have no full principal repayment guarantee.

Investing in the IIP will pave the way for the families to choose to live in both Ireland and the UK, enjoying optimal privileges and opportunities to study, work and enjoy a high standard of living.