United Kingdom is one of the best countries to live, work, study and do business for high-net worth individuals and families.
The Tier 1 (Investor) category is for high net worth individuals making a substantial financial investment in the UK.
UK tier 1 investor visa program is the most popular investment migration program to the United Kingdom for HNW families. The investment minimum for UK tier1 visas is set at £2,000,000 based on PBS -points based system. The investor scheme offers a fast track option of settlement in the United Kingdom and later path to citizenship meeting all the requirements. The entry clearance decision issued within 3 weeks.
The UK Government first launched the high value investor visa scheme on 1 October 1994. As of 2004, investor applicants were required to hold at least £1 million in the UK and to invest £750,000 in UK Government bonds, stocks or corporate bonds. In addition, the applicant had to make the UK their main home. In 2008, the Government introduced the Points Based System.As from 6 Nov 2014, UK announced increase in tier 1 investor visa from £1 million to £2 million.
Why invest in the UK?
- London is one of the most attractive cities to live in the world, major financial center offering high standard of living.
- UK has the best healthcare systems in the world.
- British citizenship after five years is very appealing
- UK gold visas offer expedited path to permanent residency with £5m and £10m
- UK has the best education system with some of the top universities in the world (eg. Oxford)
- Property prices have fallen due to Brexit concerns, best time to invest in UK property market
- Falling value of Pound sterling infact makes the investor scheme cheaper.
- Recoverable full investment and the money invested is not wasted!
- UK is has mixed multicultural foreign population, english spoken everywhere and drives on the left.
- UK has best infrastructure and facilities for research and development in science and technology
- UK is most attractive for investors and startups. UK ranked first in Europe and sixth in the world to operate business.
- No personal interview.
- No english language requirement to obtain visa.
- No prior business experience needed.
- No medical examination. No business experience.
- Government interview is often waived.
- Processing time is very fast, often 1 week to 3 weeks.
Fastest Golden visa
UK has also the fastest golden visa scheme in the world in terms of processing time. The Home office makes decisions within 1-3 weeks. This makes it very attractive for HNW/UHNW applicants who dont want wait a long time unlike US/Canada.
The minimum investment required is GBP £ 2 million has to be invested atleast for 5 year term in Government bonds, loan or share capital. ILR (UK permanent residency) is issued after 5 years. The investor is not allowed to invest this money in property, bank deposit. No employment is allowed. The investor is free to do whatever he wants with the remaining £ 250,000 money. Financing option is available but the investor has to prove that he/she has atleast GBP£ 2 million in assets.
- Applicant must show that they have money of their own under their control in a regulated financial institution amounting to no less than GBP 2 million.
- Must invest for five years in the UK by way of UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK-registered companies (other than those principally engaged in property investment). Investment in offshore companies not permitted.
- No business experience or the ability to speak English. Some nationals (China, Russia, Nigeria among them) are required to undertake a TB test before submitting their application. Investors are permitted to be gainfully employed under this visa or undertake a course of study in the UK.
- Investor and their family must make the UK their main home. Applicant and their family should not spend more than 180 days per year outside the UK. All children who originally applied as their dependents will only be granted ILR if both parents are eligible for ILR.
- Entry clearance for Tier 1 visa initially issued for 40 months. Within three months of entry into the UK, they are required to make the investment of GBP 2 million which must be maintained throughout the period of leave. At the expiry of the initial 40 month period, the investor must apply for an ‘extension of stay’. The UK government will grant a two year extension of stay to the whole family if the investor has satisfied the requirements for leave to enter, i.e. maintained the investment and adhered to the other general conditions for leave to enter.
Upon successful approval of the application, the investor will be given a 3 year entry clearance visa (40 months), with 2 year renewals and then after 5 years of legal residence in the UK, they qualify for `permanent residence` or `ILR indefinite leave to remain` status, provided the investor has maintained the invested money of £2 million, as stipulated by the program. Once ILR has been granted, you may travel in and out of the UK any time. But you should not spend more than 2 years consecutively outside the UK.
March 2019 Changes
The UK Home Office announced significant changes to the UK Immigration Rules which include updates to both Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Tier 1 Investor visa categories. The new rules come into effect on 29 March 2019.
- Government bonds (Gilts) no longer qualifying investment.
- Pooled investments will be allowed
- Holding period of GBP 2 million for must be two-year period prior to application, rather than the 90-day period currently in place.
- Entry clearance extensions now for the grant of leave will now be two years and four months, extended from two years.
- A clarification is also being made to confirm that “price of the investments” means the price the applicant paid for the investments, not the face value (which does not in itself demonstrate that an applicant has invested GBP 2 million in the UK, as required by the rules).
- Definition of Active and Trading companies amended
- The basic requirement stipulating that applicants open a UK bank account before making a Tier 1 Investor application is being tightened to ensure that banks confirm that they have carried out all required due diligence checks and Know Your Customer checks before a visa application is processed.
Accelerated ILR Path
- Over £ 5 million, ILR can be issued after 3 years, and for investments
- Over £ 10 million, ILR can be received after 2 years.
Only the main applicant will have his/her route to permanent residence fast tracked through higher level of investment; their dependents (spouse and children) can only apply for permanent residence after living for 5 years in UK.
- Application Fee: £1,623 for Tier 1 (Investor) visa.
- Priority service: £500 (decision within 5 days) for switching or extensions
Eligibility & Requirements
- Must be over 18 years of age.
- Must main the said investment amount throughout without decline in asset value.
- Spend most of the time UK as main home (180 days allowed absence).
- No prior criminal record.
- Sufficient financial means and accommodation
Applicants must have money of your own, under your own control, held in a regulated financial institution and disposable in the UK amounting to not less than £2 million. The money must be disposable in the UK and the applicant must open an account with a UK regulated financial institution
The investment must be made within 3 months, after entering UK. The investor is allowed to bring with family and children under 18 years of age.
The investor will be eligible to apply for UK citizenship after 6 years of stay in the UK. UK allows dual nationality but please keep in mind that your home country may not recognize it.
Source of funds
The Source of funds accepted under gift,deeds of sale,evidence from a business,will,divorce settlement,award or winning
Points based system (PBS)
The UK Government introduced a “points-based system for non-EEA immigration for the UK in 2008. For Tier1 investor visas, the applicant must have a minimum of 75 points
Total of initial 75 points awarded for applicants who :
- has money of their own, under their control, held in a regulated financial institution and disposable in the UK, amounting to not less than £2 million
- has opened an account with a UK regulated bank for the purposes of investing not less than £2 million in the UK
Applicants can use money owned either jointly or solely by their spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner but they must have an unrestricted right to transfer and dispose of the money and have permission from their partner to have control of the money in the UK. They must provide evidence of the relationship and permission to use the joint funds.
Investment offshore The funds must not be invested in companies mainly engaged in property investment, property management or property development
On June 23, 2016 UK voted to leave the European Union and withdrawal date is set at 31 Oct 2019 at 00:00 (Brussels time).
Despite brexit fears, UK is still an attractive country for investment and the demand for Tier1 investor investors have soared. Chinese, Russians, Americans and Indians among those who top the table
Applicants may apply for British citizenship one year after being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, providing they satisfy strict residential requirements below:
1. Resident in the UK for 5 years, and have been present in the UK 5 years before the date of citizenship
application, and have not spent more than 450 days outside the UK in 5 years,
2. Have not spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the 12 months preceding the application.
Once UK citizenship has been granted, there is no restriction on time spent outside the UK.
The UK allows to have more than one nationality.
The United Kingdom passport is one of the best and highly respected travel documents in the world ranking fifth powerful in the world with visa free access to 186 world countries in 2018
We have compiled the most important questions regarding the tier1 investor scheme
What is the processing time for UK tier1 investor applications?
The Home office will make a decision within 3 weeks, before approving entry clearance.
What if if my application is refused?
You can make an appeal and ask for administrative review of the decision made.
What restrictions apply for Tier1 investors?
- No access to public funds
- No Employment as a Doctor or Dentist in Training,
- No employment as a professional sportsperson
You are permitted to study, but you will need to obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate for the course/research and present it to your education institution before you start your study for Doctorate, Masters Degree, Post Graduate or Research period
Can i show evidence of funds, jointly with family?
Yes, you can show £2m at your disposal, owned either jointly with, or solely by, your husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner. You must have unrestricted right to transfer and dispose of the money.
Can i manage my own portfolio?
Yes, you manage your own investments or your portfolio manager does not operate in the UK and is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
How do i prove source of funds?
You can prove evidence for source of funds as:
- Deeds of sale of property
- Business Income
- Divorce settlement; or
- Award or winning
What is the difference between Leave to enter and Leave to Remain?
Here are the main differences
- Leave to Enter is permission to stay in the UK that is granted when you successfully apply and enter the UK from overseas.
- Leave to Remain is permission to stay in the UK that is granted when you successfully apply to stay in the UK, from within the UK.
Leave is a general term which means all of entry clearance, leave to enter and leave to remain.
Can i work under this visa?
Yes, investors and spouse are allowed to work under investor stream.
What is Entry clearance?
Entry Clearance is a permission for you to travel to the UK (usually a visa).
How much time i have before making the investment?
You must make the full investment within 3 months, once the entry clearance is issued. The money may be held overseas at the time of application
In what cases application can be refused?
If you come from a country subject to financial sanctions (eg Iran, Syria, Venezuela) etc, you have to receive permission fromHM Treasury, that you are authorised to transfer funds to a bank account in the United Kingdom. If the funds are freely transferrable and your application will be refused.
Do i receive residence permit?
After you are issued entry clearance, you have to come to UK and collect biometric residence permit within 10 days
Do i need to open bank account in the UK for the purpose of visa?
Applicant must open an account with a UK bankregulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for the purposes of investing not less than £2million in the UK. The bank will do all the KYC/Due diligence of client
You can also open account with wealth management investment firm comply with FCA/PRA standards , who will manage and control your portfolio
The institution that has opened the account for the applicant must confirm that is has completed all necessary due diligence and Know Your Customer checks in relation to your account, else application may be refused by Home office
What is the investment holding period?
You must hold the investment for 2 years after entry clearance. If you want settlement or permanent residency, you must hold £2 million for 5 years by way of share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies
What are the conditions for settlement for investors?
- You must live in UK not more than 180 days of absence from the United Kingdom during any consecutive 12 months of the qualifying period..
- Must have knowledge of english and life in the UK by passing both the Life in the UK test and holding an English speaking and listening qualification at level B1 or above.
- No criminal record
Is UK education free?
UK has the best education system in the world with top universities. Children from age 5 to 18 will be able to attend state schools free of charge. UK universities are not free.
Can i invest in UK Real estate?
No, passive investments such as real estate are ineligible. If you invest above £2m you can spend the excess on buying a home.
Can i invest £2m in UK companies?
Yes, Investments made as loan or share capital must be made in companies that are active and trading. A company considered to be active and trading for the purposes of Tier 1 (Investor) if you entered the route after 29 March 2019 is one that:
• Is registered with Companies House in the UK;
• Is registered with HM Revenue and Customs for corporation tax and PAYE;
• Has accounts and a UK bank account with both showing regular trading of its own goods or services; and
• Has at least 2 UK based employees who are not its directors
Which investments are not accepted under Tier1 investor route?
- Investments in Non-trading companies and dormant companies will not be accepted for the award of points for loan or share capital.
- invested through an offshore company or trust. The funds must not be held in offshore custody.
- Companies mainly engaged in property investment, property management or property development (real estate)
- Purchase of stocks or other investments by using borrowed funds
- Loans against investments
- Investments solely by using deposits with a bank, building society or other enterprise whose normal course of business includes the acceptance of deposits
Can i invest in Gilts?
No, this has been removed from April 2019
What is the maximum period extension of entry clearance issued for tier investors?
Is switch from other visa category allowed?
Switching to Tier 1 investor visa category only possible from these categories:Tier 1 (General) , Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 2 migrant, Tier 4 migrant.
What are conditions for UK citizenship?
Investor visa applicants do not get preferential treatment to apply for citizenship.They must naturalize under ordinary citizenship rules.
The legal requirements you should meet before you apply are that you:
- Aged 18 or over when you apply
- Lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands)
- Communicate in English (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic) to an acceptable degree
- Sufficient knowledge about life in the UK (pass Life in UK test, English at B1 CEFR or higher, or have a degree in UK)
- Good character and sound mind
- No criminal record
- Absence conditions: Not absent for 450 days outside the UK in the 5-year period or not more than 90 days outside the UK in the 12-month period