Tier 1 Investor is indeed the easiest way for wealthy foreign nationals to move to the United Kingdom.
As this visa route involves a significant financial investment, investors would normally be asking a lot of questions about how to get this visa, how to extend it, how to get permanent residence in the UK (also called ILR or settlement) and later apply for naturalisation and British passport. Imperial & Legal advisers offer you answers to top 10 frequently asked questions about British citizenship by investment.
Applicants for a Tier 1 Investor visa are required to make a significant contribution to the local economy. To make this investment mutually beneficial, the UK government offers them a lot of benefits in return.
Unfortunately, it is not possible any more to invest in government bonds or real estate in the United Kingdom to apply for an investor visa. The rules have changed.
It is possible, however, to invest in UK-registered companies unless they are involved in real estate construction, management and sale. By limiting investment options, the UK government is trying to encourage investments into a real sector of economy.
On the one hand, new rules increase investment risks. On the other hand, no more headache related to property management and you can make real profit. To minimise risks, prior to making an investment, talk to experts that could recommend you a best solution.
The minimum amount you must invest is £2,000,000. However, if you plan to stay in the UK and are prepared to invest more into UK companies, you can become part of British society significantly faster.
A table below shows when you can apply for settlement and citizenship in the UK based on how much money you have invested.
The more money you invest in shares of trading UK companies, the faster you can settle in Great Britain. A settled person has almost the same rights as a British national. Moreover, once you obtain ILR, you can get your money back.
As the United Kingdom has never positioned itself as an offshore or tax haven, applicants for a Tier 1 Investor visa must demonstrate a legal source of money to be invested in UK economy.
If for any reason you cannot demonstrate where you have got that money from, it must be held on your account for at least 2 years before the date of application.
Firstly, you must prove that you have free access to the funds you plan to invest and you can transfer them to an investment account in a UK bank any time.
It is important to remember that the funds do not have to belong to you alone, they can be also held by your second half (partner or spouse). In this case, all you need to do is to provide evidence to the Home Office that you have access to the money and are free to do what you want with it.
Secondly, though there are not many requirements to applicants for an investor visa, UK authorities would not let anyone into their country with criminal records or infectious deceases.
Therefore, you must provide a criminal record certificate for the last 10 years and test negative for a tuberculosis test.
Furthermore, for your Tier 1 investor visa application, you must obtain and submit a letter from a UK financial institution confirming that you have opened an investment account with them. Bank or another credit organisation officials conduct their own background checks on you and the source of your funds.
To speed up obtaining an investor visa to the UK, get in touch with qualified immigration lawyers from the very start. This will help you to avoid unwanted mistakes and save time and money.
It normally takes 1 to 2 weeks to prepare all necessary documents. Once your application is submitted, you must attend a visa centre in person. The Home Office allows up to 8 weeks to process your application. If you want to fast-track it, you can pay an extra fee and get a decision in 5 working days.
After your Tier 1 investor visa is granted, you will have up to 90 days to enter the country and another 90 days after arrival to transfer money to your investment account and buy shares or bonds of UK companies.
If you are applying for an investor visa outside the UK, in the country of your residence, it will be valid for 3 years and four months. If you switch to the investor category within the UK, your investor visa will be granted for 3 years.
Before your current visa expires, you can either extend it for another 2 years or apply for settlement, provided you have invested enough money to qualify for it.
Tier 1 investors do not have to live in the country all the time. However, if you plan to stay in the UK for good, you must not be absent for long. In the period before applying for ILR, you must not leave the country for more than 180 days in any 12-month period.
Apart from this continuous residence requirement, you must comply with additional requirements to apply for settlement:
If you apply with a family, all adults dependants must also pass an English and Life in the UK tests to evidence their language skills and integration in British society.
How much you have invested will determine how fast you will be able to settle in the UK – in 2, 3 or 5 years of living on the British Isles. We have shown in the table above how the more money you invest, the faster you can obtain ILR.
As settled status gives almost the same rights as British citizenship, it is common to stop at this stage and stay in the UK without applying for a UK passport. However, if you decide to naturalise and become a British national, you and your family can do it after a certain number of years based on how much you have invested. It would normally be 1 to 3 years after ILR. More details are in the next question.
Though it does depend on how much you have invested, but not as much as in case with ILR. You won’t be able to significantly speed it up.
To naturalise, you must also speak good English and have clean criminal record. Life in the UK test is also mandatory. These two tests apply to all adult dependants, including children who turned 18 while living in the UK on a dependant visa.
Another thing to remember, a number of days of absence from the UK for naturalisation applications is different for that of ILR applications: in the 5-year period before applying for British citizenship, you must not leave the country for more than 450 days in total, and not more than 90 days in the 12 months prior to submission. Therefore, these things must be kept in mind from the very beginning if your goal is to get a UK passport.
You do not need help from qualified experts in the UK if you know the following:
If, however, you are not sure about at least one of the points above, qualified advisers at Imperial & Legal can always provide a full consultation on all matters related to your relocation to the UK and help you at every stage of the process from obtaining a UK investor visa to organising relocation to tax planning and business support.
If you want to apply for a Tier 1 Investor visa, you will need to prepare the following documents:
If you invest your spouse’s or partner’s funds, add to this list:
If you have difficulties in applying for a UK Tier 1 Investor visa, gathering the necessary documents or opening an investment account in a UK bank, qualified advisers at Imperial & Legal can always provide a full consultation.
Yes, and it means that unlike other UK visas, you are not obliged to do only one specific thing: work, study, run a business or be married to a British.
As an investor, you can do anything as long as you do not break the law. The exceptions are those activities that require a government licence or work permit. For example, you cannot open a dental practice if you do not have the necessary education, documents and approval from the state regulatory authorities.
Yes, you need to get a biometric residence card 10 days after you declare your wish to come to the UK (even if in reality your arrival is delayed).
You must be fingerprinted and photographed in order to obtain a biometric residence permit. Both can be done at one of the UK visa application centres around the world, including your home country.
Under the current rules, whoever comes to the UK as an investor must invest in a share or debt capital of UK companies within the next 3 months. Your arrival date (keep your ticket) is called the investor start date. It means that an investor visa holder has 3 months to prove their status.
If you cannot prove with your documents when you came to the UK, or if you switch to the UK investor visa from another visa type, the date of your application approval by the UK immigration authorities is taken as the starting point.
If 3 months are not enough to take an informed decision about investing in UK shares, we recommend seeking advice from experienced specialists at Imperial & Legal. Our advisers will help you to build both a safe and profitable investment portfolio.
If you meet all the requirements of the immigration service, it is necessary to apply for an extension of your immigration status 3 months before your first UK investor visa expires.
Visa extension costs include:
You can also pay an additional £500 for a priority service for each person. In this case, your application will be processed in 5 days instead of the 8 weeks under the standard procedure.
We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.
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