TIER 1 Investor UK Visa
The Tier 1 (Investor) Visa enables high-net-worth individuals, who want to make a substantial financial investment, to live and work in the United Kingdom. Investors with a Tier 1 Visa can bring their family to the UK and the Visa could lead the Investor to acquiring British citizenship.
This is an attractive route as it allows a migrant:
- To be able to engage in unrestricted self-employment and employment in the UK, with the exception that they will not be able to work as a doctor or dentist in training;
- To accelerate their route to settlement in the UK (2 years for those investing over £10 million and 3 years for those investing over £5 million)
This note sets out the immigration rules and requirements for the Tier 1 (Investor) Visa and explains what investment support is available. Please note that different rules may apply for those intending to study in the UK.
TIER 1 Investor – An Overview
To be able to apply for the Visa, an Investor must have £2 million or more of their own money available for investment in the UK and live outside of the European Economic Area. The £2 million will need to have been held continuously for 90 days in a regulated financial institution as at the date of the application.
Investors cannot mix personal money and borrowed money in order to reach the £2 million investment required. However, they are able to rely on money that is owned either jointly with, or solely by, their spouse, civil partner, or unmarried or same-sex partner.
If the Investor’s money is not held in pounds sterling then its value must be converted into pounds sterling on the date on which the Investor makes their Visa application.
Applicants are deemed to be experienced and sophisticated investors who meet minimum subscription and financial resource requirements.
Investors – Entry Clearance
The investment fund of £2 million may be held overseas at the time of application, or it may already be in the UK. Investments that have already been made in the UK within the 12 months immediately before the date of the Visa application may count towards the £2 million provided they are held in a regulated financial institution (i.e. authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority in the UK or by the relevant home regulator if the money is held overseas).
An investor may not use assets or possessions, such as property, as evidence of their funds for investment.
The investment money must:
- be held in a regulated financial institution;
- be disposable in the UK; and
- amount to £2 million or more.
Where an Investor has not held the funds for 90 days before the date of their Visa application they will also be required to provide evidence of the source of the investment funds.
The following sources of funds are eligible:
- deeds of sale;
- funding from a business;
- divorce settlement; or
- award or winnings.
All of the £2 million funds must be freely transferable to the UK and able to be converted to pounds sterling. Many countries have controls over the transfer of currency; if the Investor’s money is not already in the UK they must provide confirmation that the money can be transferred into the UK.
In line with the requirements for extension applications, the investment relied on must have been made no earlier than 12 months before the date of the application which led to the applicant’s first grant of leave in the category.
In addition, an investor:
- must be aged 18 or over;
- must have a UK Bank account;
- must provide a criminal record certificate;
- may need to provide tuberculosis test results ;
- must provide a current, valid passport or other travel identification;
- must provide fingerprints and a current photograph.
Investors – Grant of Leave
If the application is successful the applicant will be granted leave to enter the UK for 3 years and 4 months.
Investors –Investment and Visa Extension
An Investor must invest no less than £2 million of their capital in the UK by way of certain government bonds or share or loan capital in an active and trading UK registered company. Note that any company invested in cannot be mainly engaged in property investments, property management or property development.
An Investor may extend their Visa for a further two years. In order to do so, Investors must have made their initial investment within three months of the Investor’s arrival. If they have not, then their permission to stay in the UK may be curtailed immediately and/or their subsequent applications for extensions and indefinite leave to remain could be jeopardised, unless there are exceptionally compelling reasons for the delay.
Maintaining Investment Portfolio
Where any part of the £2 million qualifying investment(s) is sold (whether at a gain or a loss) during the Investor’s continuous period of leave, the gross proceeds (the total from the sale of the portfolio, before any fees, taxes or other costs are deducted) will need to be re-invested in other qualifying investments before the end of the next reporting period, or within six months of the date of completion of the sale, whichever is sooner.
If any qualifying investments are sold so that the total purchase price of the remaining qualifying investments falls below £2m, they must purchase new qualifying investments to make up the balance within the same reporting period. As such, it is immaterial whether or not the market value of any of the qualifying investments rises or falls: what matters for each investment is always the initial purchase price.
Successful Tier 1 (Investor) Visa applicants will be allowed to bring their dependants (their children under 18 years of age, or their husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried or same-sex partner) with them to the UK.
Dependants will be required to apply for their own Visa and must meet the Home Office requirements.
Indefinite Leave to Remain and Accelerated Route to Settlement
Holders of a Tier 1 (Investor) Visa may wish to stay in the UK for the long-term and, subject to compliance with their Visa requirements, will be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (also known as settlement).
Depending on an Investor’s level of investment in the UK, they must complete a continuous residence period of 2, 3 or 5 years in the UK before they can apply for settlement.
During the continuous residence period, an Investor cannot be outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 consecutive months.
Accelerated Continuous Residence Periods
The requisite relevant investment amounts and specified continuous periods of residence are outlined in the table below.
|Specified continuous period||Relevant investment amount|
If the Investor has a spouse or partner who has lived with them in the UK for a minimum of 5 years they can also apply for settlement. An Investor’s children may also apply for indefinite leave to remain once the Investor has been granted settlement.
After the Investor has held indefinite leave to remain for a period of one year, they may be eligible to apply for British citizenship in order to acquire a British passport.
In order to apply for British citizenship, the Investor must be able to demonstrate compliance with the residential requirement.
The residential requirements mean that the Investor must have:
- been resident in the UK for at least five years (this is known as the residential qualifying period); and
- been present in the UK on the day exactly five years before the date of their application; and
- not spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the five-year period; and
- not spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months of the five-year period.
Fees and timescales
The Government fees for a Tier 1 (Investor) Visa are currently £1,530 for both the Investor, and each dependent. There will also be a healthcare surcharge which must be paid alongside this figure. An application usually takes around 8 weeks to process (though this can vary depending on the country in which the application is being made) and can be made, at the earliest, 3 months before the date of entry to the country under the Visa.
There may also be the opportunity to use a ‘super premium service’ if the Investor applies in person. This costs an additional £8,750 on top of the general fees and the Visa is issued on the same day.
Our professional fees for an application for each Tier 1 (Investor) Visa are usually between £6,000 to £12,000 plus VAT.
IBB Solicitors is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.