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Citizenship guide
Imperial experience

British citizenship by investment

The United Kingdom started offering an immigration route for foreign investors in 1994. In 2008, they introduced a new points-based system that established Tier 1 Investor and Tier 1 Entrepreneur routes. In 2014, the UK saw record numbers of investor applicants.

Immigration rules for non-EEA citizens planning to come to the UK under these visas have been changing over the years, increasing some requirements and slackening others. Both routes lead to settlement (permanent residence) and eventually to citizenship by naturalisation. Let’s see what to do to get a British passport.

Differences between Investor and Entrepreneur visas

Though at a first glance an investor visa looks more appealing and easier to get, it might not be what you are looking for and the required investment is significantly higher.

  • Investors can work, study or literally do anything while in the country. Entrepreneurs, however, can only work in the company in which they’ve invested.
  • Investors don’t need to meet English language requirement.
  • Investors can settle already in 2 years.
  • Investors have full control over their invested funds and can recover them.

Benefits of investing in the UK

Great Britain is a well-advanced economy and high-income country. It offers the following advantages to foreign investors and businessmen:

  • Passport in 5-6 years
  • Citizenship for the whole family for life
  • Full confidentiality
  • Visa-free access to 164 countries
  • High quality of life
  • Top standards of education and healthcare
  • Transparent legal system
  • Vast business opportunities
  • Easy to set up and run a company
  • Least barriers to entrepreneurship
  • Highly skilled and productive workforce
  • Tax benefits for non-domiciled individuals
  • Simple taxation for small businesses
  • Profitable tourism sector
  • Developed transport network

Eligibility and requirements

Apart from a required investment, the main applicant and dependants must also comply with the following criteria:

  • Minimum age for main applicant is 18 (investor) or 16 (entrepreneur).
  • Dependants include spouses and minor children.
  • Good health and no contagious diseases.
  • Clean criminal and immigration record.

Investment options

Two routes are available leading to citizenship.

1. Tier 1 Investor

To qualify for settlement and citizenship, one of the following amounts must be invested in UK government bonds or capital of UK-based companies, irrespective of the number of dependants:

  • £2,000,000 to settle in 5 years
  • £5,000,000 to settle in 3 years
  • £10,000,000 to settle in 2 years

Additional fees and charges must be paid.

You can apply from within the UK, when switching from another allowed category, or outside the country. Initial visa is granted for 3 years four months subject to extension.

2. Tier 1 Entrepreneur / Graduate Entrepreneur

To get visa of this category, you have to set up a business in the UK, become director there and run it till you can apply for settlement.

Minimum investment requirement depends on the source of funding:

  • £50,000 from an entrepreneurial seed funding competition, government department or FCA-registered venture capital firm; this is the only option for UK graduates.
  • £200,000 of your own money, or if provided by a spouse or investor.

Other fees and charges apply.

Applications can be made both in and outside the United Kingdom. First visa is given for 3 years four months subject to extension.

You can apply for settlement in 5 or 3 years. Accelerated procedure is available to entrepreneurs whose business turnover in the first three years has exceeded £5M or 10 settled workers have been employed full-time.

Applying for British passport

You and your dependants can make naturalisation applications within the following timeframes:

  • 5 years if settled under the accelerated procedure
  • 6 years if settled 5 years after first entry to the UK

Requirements

Apart from complying with the English language criteria and passing the Life in the UK test, you must:

  • Have spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years prior to applying for naturalisation, and no more than 90 days in the last 12 months;
  • Have not broken any criminal or immigration laws.

Your 5 steps to becoming UK citizen

Settle in as little as two years and get naturalised in five.

Step 1: Book an appointment with our specialists and sign a client agreement.

Step 2: Apply for Investor or Entrepreneur visa.

Step 3: Extend your visa or apply for settlement.

Step 4: Apply for citizenship.

Step 5: Get your British passport.

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