The United Kingdom started offering an immigration route for foreign investors in 1994. In 2008, the UK introduced a new point-based system that included Tier 1 Investor and Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas. In 2019, British immigration authorities stopped processing applications for Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas, allowing to extend only the already issued visas. For the investors who wanted to launch their own business in the UK, a new visa type was introduced – Innovator visa.
Since long-term visas were introduced, immigration rules for non-EEA investors have changed several times, increasing some requirements and slackening others.
If you spend several years in the UK on Tier 1 Investor or Innovator visas, you will be able to obtain permanent residence (or ILR – Indefinite Leave to Remain). Then, in a year, you, as a permanent resident, will be able to apply for British citizenship. Let’s see what you need to do to get British citizenship.
As one of the largest financial centres, the UK attracts entrepreneurs from all over the world, including those who are ready to invest into British economy to obtain the right to work and live in the UK.
Foreign investors know that the UK economy is always among the top five economies with the most attractive investment options. British economy is resilient to financial crisis. Its century-old entrepreneurial traditions, developed transport infrastructure, government support of small and medium-sized enterprises and vast markets offer ample opportunities for making good profit.
What other benefits, apart from financial ones, can foreign investors gain in the UK?
The main difference between Tier 1 Investor and Innovator visas is that investors can buy shares or bonds of almost any British company. Innovators, alone or with other entrepreneurs, can invest only in their own business that they plan to develop in the UK. For your information, we have compiled a table comparing Tier 1 Investor and Innovator visas.
Applicants for Tier 1 Investor and Innovator visas must comply with the following requirements:
Two routes are available leading to UK citizenship by investment:
To obtain Tier 1 Investor visa and later apply for permanent residence (ILR – Indefinite Leave to Remain), you need to invest at least £2,000,000 into British companies (irrespective of the number of dependants). You will be able to apply for permanent residence in a few years, depending on your investment amount:
Additional fees and charges apply.
You can apply for residence within the UK, when switching from another allowed category, or outside the country. Initial visa is granted for 3 years and 4 months and subject to extension for 2 years.
Even if you become UK permanent resident in 2 years, you will be able to apply for British citizenship only in 5 years. If you contribute the minimum investment amount of £2,000,000, you will be able to obtain British passport in 6 years.
To obtain an Innovator visa, you need to invest at least £50,000 into your own British company, become its CEO and bear responsibility for its development until you get permanent residence (ILR).
There is one more important requirement. Your business plan must be assessed and endorsed by a relevant body. If the endorsing body loses its license and withdraws its endorsement, you must reapply to another similar body from the government list.
You can set up your company by yourself or with other entrepreneurs. If you form a team, each investor must contribute at least £50,000. Other fees and charges apply.
You can apply for Innovator visa outside the UK or within the UK, when switching from another allowed category. Initial visa is granted for 3 years and 4 months and subject to extension for 3 years for an unlimited number of times.
As an innovator, you and your family can apply for permanent residence (ILR) in 3 years and get British passport in 5 years.
As it was mentioned above, investors can get permanent residence (ILR) under the accelerated procedure in 2 or 3 years, but they and their families will be able to naturalise only in 5 years. Standard procedure usually takes 6 years, and two main requirements must be met: you must live in the UK for 5 years and be a permanent resident for 1 year.
Imperial & Legal advisors have extensive experience in successfully delivering various immigration cases for British and EU migrants. Our experts provide complex legal support in getting and extending visas, obtaining an indefinite leave to remain and applying for a British passport. We can also make your relocation to a new country comfortable and hassle-free and help you to develop your business, open bank accounts and plan taxes.
To get British passport, you need to go through 6 steps:
When your initial visa for 3 years and 4 months has expires (provided that you applied for Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa outside the UK), you can extend it for 2 years. Alternatively, you can apply for permanent residence (ILR) if your business has significantly developed and you can prove this to immigration authorities.
Tier 1 Investor visa offers the easiest and quickest immigration route. You do not need to get endorsement letter for your business plan, learn English or prove your professional skills. Depending on the investment amount, you will be able to get permanent residence (ILR) in 2–5 years. However, you will need to pass the English test and the Life in the UK test for this.
Investors need to prove their knowledge of English to apply for permanent residence (ILR) in 2–5 years. Applicants must prove that they are well integrated into British society. They must be capable of simple conversations in English and know the details of British daily life.
The official website of the British government outlines 3 main requirements that your business idea must meet to get endorsement from a relevant body:
In comparison with other countries, in the UK, it is not difficult to register a new company. It can even be done online. The British government is interested in the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, so the government control is minimum.
It does not mean, however, that anyone can register a company in the UK and conduct business without supervision from the regulating bodies. Innovators setting up a company need a registered address, a bank account, secretary services and, when required, they need to register with the HMRC for VAT.
All the above challenges can be successfully resolved with the business packages offered by Imperial & Legal. Our advisors will help you to register your company and avoid problems with the Companies House and HMRC. For more information, see our article about registering companies in the UK.
There is no law in the UK that forbids to have second citizenship, so you will not be asked to denounce your first nationality. Though you are guaranteed complete confidentiality, Imperial & Legal advisors suggest that you should inform the authorities in your home country that you have a second passport if it is required.
We are OISC regulated immigration lawyers that provide full immigration support in obtaining British citizenship by investment. Contact us now to get expert advice.
Second passport by investment
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