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Citizenship guide
Imperial experience

Tier 1 Investor visa to the UK: step-by-step guide to British citizenship

PUBLISHED: 13 January 2020

Tier 1 Investor visa is the easiest and fastest route to legal residence in the United Kingdom with the right to take up any activity you want, get a job, run your own business, study or travel around the country or do nothing. British immigration authorities are very kind to foreign investors bringing money into the country; you would not even have to take an English exam.

Account manager and regulated immigration lawyer from Imperial & Legal, Vasily Kluev gives us an introduction to a Tier 1 Investor visa – how much money you must invest and how many points you must score to apply, and answers other important questions in this category.

How much money do I invest to get a visa to UK?

To apply for an Investor visa to the United Kingdom, you would need from £2,000,000 to £10,000,000. How much money you could spare for the next couple of year will affect how quickly you would be able to settle in the UK and get a British passport.

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It is the initial investment that matters. If the shares you have bought have decreased in value, you would not be required to top it up.

How many points must I score for investor visa?

The United Kingdom operates points-based system for some visa categories. In order to obtain a Tier 1 Investor visa, you must score at least 75 points. They are awarded for several criteria that you must meet:

  • you can invest £2,000,000 and more into British economy;
  • the money is held in an account in a regulated financial institution;
  • funds must be held in a UK bank or freely transferrable to the UK when needed.

These requirements are normally easy to comply with for any investor that has a required sum of money.

Do I have to invest my own money?

No doubt the UK government will check where the money comes from. You must provide a bank statement showing that the funds have been held there for at least 2 years. The bank can be any, from any country.

If you have not had the required amount for two years but want to apply for an investor visa to come to the UK, you can do it without waiting. The main thing is you must have the money at the date of application. However, you would need to demonstrate the source of funds (purchase of real estate, financial accounts from your business, inheritance, etc.)

Besides, you can share the funds with a spouse or civil partner provided you have a power of attorney authorising you to use the money however and whenever you wish.

What is the process of applying for a Tier 1 Investor visa?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to get your UK visa to applying for settlement and your first British passport.

1.    Open an investment account in the UK

Time needed to open an account varies from 1 week to 3 months depending on a financial institution you deal with. This includes all the due diligence they must do. Once an account is opened, you will get a letter confirming the availability of funds and passing of background checks.

2.    Get an investor visa

With all the required documents in hand you can submit a visa application. Processing time is around 1 month. If successful, you will get a Tier 1 Investor visa for 3 years and four months. This is a residence permit for you. You are given 30 days to enter the country on your visa and collect your BRP card.

3.    Invest

You are given three months to make a required investment in the local economy, if not already made. You must buy shares of one or several UK-registered companies. Investment in real estate or government bonds are not available anymore.

4.    Extend your investor visa

You will only need to do it if you have invested from £2 million up to £5 million. First visa is valid for 3 years and four months after which you must apply for extension. It should take roughly 1-2 weeks to prepare paperwork and 8 weeks to process the application by the Home Office. You can speed it up to 5 days if you don’t want to wait.

5.    Settle

How much you have invested will affect when you can apply for settlement in the UK – in 2, 3 or 5 years. Besides, you must spend at least 180 days in the country in any 12-month period before applying. On top of that, you must pass an English test and Life in the UK test to confirm your knowledge of the language, history, customs and traditions of the country. This stage will take from 2 to 6 months.

6.    Naturalise and apply for British passport

Rules No 1 and 2 are, you can apply for naturalisation one year after settlement, but not earlier than 5 years of living in the UK. Once your application is approved, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony where you will give an oath of allegiance to the reigning monarch. Only then will you be given a certificate of naturalisation which enables you to apply for a British passport.

What are the benefits of an investor visa to the UK?

Tier 1 Investor visa is the right to live in the UK, first temporarily and them permanently, and bring your family with you, including spouse and minor children. It gives access to high living standards, transparent legal system for businesses, safety and welfare. At the same time, neither you nor your family members are limited as to what you can do in the UK – you can study, work or run your own business, or do nothing at all.

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