The Tier 1 Investor Visa is a permit for temporary residence in the UK, which allows wealthy foreigners to relocate to the UK with immediate family. In order to obtain an Investor Visa, it is necessary to invest £2 million into the economy of the country, proving the legal origin of the finances. The Tier 1 Investor Visa is granted for an initial period of three years and four months with an option to extend for another two years.
Holders of the Investor Visa can live, study, work and do business in the United Kingdom, enjoy the services of quality medicine and tax benefits. Investing in the UK economy is one of the most secure ways to keep and grow legally earned money, which is why the demand for Tier 1 is growing every year.
Pros and cons of the program
The Investor Visa Tier 1 is the British version of the gold visa program, as it offers a residence permit to people, who make significant investments in the British economy.
Advantages of the British investment visa Tier 1:
- the opportunity to reside in the United Kingdom for an extended period of time;
- the right to work, study and do business;
- immigration with your spouse and children;
- access to one of the best healthcare systems in the world;
- no English language requirements;
- favourable taxation for investors;
- the possibility of obtaining British citizenship, allowing the investor and their family to visa-free travel to more than 187 countries.
Disadvantages of Tier 1 Investor Visa program:
- high investment threshold;
- no real estate investment options;
- the need to reside in the UK for 180 days during the year to further extend the residence permit.
After increasing the investment threshold from 1 million to 2 million pounds, the number of applicants for a residence permit has decreased, and the process of obtaining Tier 1 now requires a more careful approach to the preparation of documents and verification of the legality of funds.
What is the investor visa Tier 1
The Investor Visa program operates on the basis of the Immigration Act. The British government first introduced a visa scheme for large investors on October 1, 1994. As of 2004, applicants were required to hold at least £1 million deposited in a bank account and freely available in the United Kingdom, and to invest £750,000 in government or corporate bonds.
In 2008, the British government introduced a point system for immigration from non-EEA countries. To qualify for Tier 1, the applicant is required to score at least 75 points, which are awarded for having their own money held at a regulated financial institution and available for use in the UK.
Since November 6, 2014, the authorities announced an increase in the amount of required investment up to 2 million pounds. And since March 29, 2019, investors are required to provide proof of the source of funds for the past two years before applying for a residence permit instead of 90 days, as it was before. The funds should be invested either in the equity of British companies or in bonds of the United Kingdom.
In addition to the main amount of the investment, the following fees must be paid in order to obtain a residence permit:
- £1,623 for applying for an investor visa (the same amount is payable for each family member included in the application);
- £19.20 for biometric data submission (fingerprints and photo);
- Total immigration fee for health insurance, which is calculated depending on the age and country of residence of the applicant.
According to data, provided by the British online publication Shard Capital, 2,886 Tier 1 visas were issued to foreign investors from 2014 to 2020. In the last quarter of 2020 alone, Britain granted 52 residence permits to wealthy investors, which shows the popularity of the investor immigration program even against the backdrop of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reasons why foreigners prefer the Investor Visa Tier 1:
- London is a major financial center and an attractive city for investors, due to its high standard of living;
- the golden visa to the UK offers a fast track to permanent residence for investing £5 million and £10 million;
- affluent immigrants are interested in applying for British citizenship on a fast-track program;
- the drop in the value of the pound is actually making investor immigration cheaper;
- British government has developed the fastest golden visa scheme in the world, Tier 1 application decisions are made within 1-3 weeks.
The requirements for obtaining an Investor Visa
British law has no restrictions on dual citizenship, i.e. a citizen of the United Kingdom can be a citizen of another country at the same time. Therefore, when choosing the Investor Visa Tier 1 program as a fast-track to obtaining a British passport, foreigners get the opportunity to have dual citizenship.
To qualify for a UK investor residence permit, one should meet the following requirements:
- have funds of at least £2 million held by the principal applicant, his partner or jointly owned;
- keep the money in a regulated financial institution with the ability to transfer it freely to the UK and convert it into pounds;
- keep the funds continuously for 2 years up to the date of application at a regulated financial institution;
- open an account at a bank regulated by the UK for the purpose of investing in order to obtain a Tier 1 visa;
- invest in an operating company registered in a UK jurisdiction, as funds cannot be held in assets or personal property;
- to stay in the UK for 180 days within 12 months for further extension of the Tier 1 visa.
Investors cannot mix personal and borrowed money to make the required investment. However, the terms of the program do allow investment of funds that are jointly or solely owned by a spouse, common-law partner, bachelor, or same-sex partner of the principal applicant.
Although the funds do not necessarily have to be in the U.K. at the time of application, it is important to check for any regulations or sanctions in the country in which they are held to avoid any difficulty in transferring the funds. Any non-compliance or failure to meet investment and supporting documentation deadlines may result in a visa denial.
Who is eligible for the program
To qualify for UK’s version of the Golden Visa, a foreigner is required:
- be over 18 years old;
- have a bank account in the UK;
- have no criminal record;
- not to apply for a job in the sports or dental field.
All Tier 1 applicants are required to submit biometric data. Residents of certain countries are also required to submit to a tuberculosis test.
The required set of documents
When applying for the Tier 1 investor program, one should provide:
- valid international passport with a blank page for the entry permit;
- tuberculosis test results (if the applicant is from a country where the test is required);
- a certificate of no criminal record from any country, in which the applicant has been for a total of 12 months or more in the last 10 years;
- proof of the availability of the necessary investment funds;
- marriage certificate (if any);
- birth certificates of children (if any);
- a statement from the partner confirming that he/she allows the applicant to control funds in the UK (if the money is jointly owned or held by the partner);
- a letter confirming the existence of an account in a British bank, which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority;
- proof of the legality of funds;
- proof of employment and position;
- receipt of fees paid.
All documents issued in a language other than English must be submitted with a notarized translation.
Step-by-step procedure for obtaining an investor visa
- Preparation of documents. Applicant who qualifies for the Investor Visa Tier 1 program, gathers proof of funds for investment, undergoes due diligence on the legality of the origin of funds, and passes a TB test.
- Submitting an application. To apply for an investor visa, it is necessary to fill out an online application form on the official government website of the United Kingdom. The applicant pays the mandatory fees and sends scanned copies of the documents along with the receipt and the application. At the same time, the alien must make an appointment with the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services to submit his or her biometric data later on.
- Sending the documents. After confirming the sending of the application, the foreigner should send the original of the prepared dossier to the address indicated on the government website, along with an empty envelope for the return of the documents and to receive the passport with entry visa.
- Registration of a temporary resident card. Approval of the application means that the investor will be granted a British visa to cross the border. Upon arrival in the United Kingdom, the foreigner should visit the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services within the validity period of the entry visa (10 days) to be fingerprinted and photographed. At the same place within 10 days the investor is issued a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) with a validity period of 40 months. The residence permit is extended, provided that the investor has kept the invested money in the amount of at least £2 million, as required by the program.
Other available visas to the UK for entrepreneurs
The UK Start-up visa is for people starting a business for the first time in the UK. An important advantage of this visa is that the foreigner does not need to be a graduate or have any initial funding to apply. However, it is mandatory to have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea approved by the British government. The startup visa is valid for two years.
Requirements for applicants:
- 18 years old or over;
- knowledge of the English language;
- Have savings for living in the United Kingdom.
Innovator visa is suitable for experienced businessmen, who want to open their company in the United Kingdom. The business idea must be different from those on the market at the time of application. The applicant must have at least £50,000 in investment funds and proof of verification of origin of funds. Innovator visa is valid for three years and also gives the right of permanent residence in the UK after staying in the country for that period.
Requirements for applicants:
- an approved business plan with an innovative solution;
- knowledge of English at least B2;
- no younger than 18 years old;
- availability of funds for living in the UK.
Tier 1 Visa as a pathway to British citizenship
The threshold of £2 million allows the alien to apply for permanent residence permit after five years, while an investment of £5 million makes it possible to apply for permanent residence after three years, and with the threshold of £10 million a permanent residence permit can be obtained after two years. After 12 months of residency in the United Kingdom as a permanent resident, an immigrant becomes eligible for a British passport.
One year after an investor has been granted indefinite permission to stay, they are eligible to apply for British citizenship. For this purpose, it is necessary to:
- reside in the United Kingdom for at least 5 years;
- not leave the territory of the state for more than 450 days within a five-year period;
- not spend more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months before applying for citizenship.
The citizenship process consists of providing proof of residing in the United Kingdom as well as evidence of keeping the investments.
The UK is a country of great business opportunities. Therefore, wealthy immigrants, in addition to safe investment in a developed economic environment, get the opportunity to implement their own ideas for successful entrepreneurial growth.
In addition, Investor Visa holders have unlimited access to high-quality British medical services and reliable banking system, educate their children at prestigious universities and provide a prosperous and stable life for their families.
Participation in the Visa Tier 1 program allows investors from around the world to immigrate to the UK relatively quickly. At the same time, the procedure can be accelerated by collecting the most complete dossier and submitting all evidence of compliance with British law. It is also possible to obtain a residence permit more quickly by applying directly in the United Kingdom and paying an additional fee for fast-track processing (£500 per applicant).
UK immigration rules are constantly changing and updating, so it is essential that applicants receive up-to-date legal advice before applying. It is recommended that legal representatives, who specialize in investment immigration matters, be contacted for assistance with the necessary documents and procedures for obtaining a UK visa.