Tier 1 Investor or

Tier 1 Innovator visas in the UK:

which UK visa is right for you?

Sadly, UK Tier 1 Investor visa is now abolished and  it is no longer possible to apply for this visa. This blog post is left unaltered for historic purposes only.

You are looking to come to the UK as an entrepreneur or investor in the UK, to start a business in the UK or invest into an existing business in the UK.

You are wondering, which UK Immigration route will serve you better in order to realise your business and investment goals.

1. Tier 1 Investor and Tier 1 Innovator visa are both UK Immigration categories based on points based system

These both UK immigration visa categories are based on the points based system in the UK. This means that the applicants will need to meet specific requirements and attributes and a specific amount of points will be awarded for meeting each of the requirements.

Should you not meet the necessary requirements and collect the amount of points required for your UK immigration visa application to be successful, your application is very likely to be rejected.

It is important to apply for each UK immigration category when all requirements are met and the prospects of the application being rejected are minimised.

A rejected visa application affects your UK immigration record and it makes it more difficult for you when applying again or in the future to secure a positive UK visa outcome.

Therefore, when applying for any visa in the UK it is important to make sure that all the requirements are met and the necessary evidence is included.

2. Tier 1 Investor and Tier 1 Innovator visa UK immigration categories require you to make an investment

Historically, both Investor visa and Innovator visa was an attractive way to attract investments and capital to the businesses based in the UK. There are a lot of creative solutions designed to raise capital and funds from overseas individuals willing to come and live in the UK.

Please be aware that not all these investment and capital raising schemes are compatible with the requirements to be met to qualify for Tier 1 Investor visa or Tier 1 Innovator visa. Therefore, I always encourage you to do your own research before you make and commit to a decision, which may adversely affect your prospects to qualify under Tier 1 Investor or Tier 1 Innovator visa.

As a very minimum you should be aware that in order to qualify under the requirements of Tier 1 Innovator, you can no longer make business investments into an existing business in the UK.

The requirements that need to be satisfied when applying for Tier 1 Innovator visa are:

  • It has to be a new business in the UK, by this it means that investments made in existing businesses in the UK are no longer allowed;
  • The new business has to be innovative in the UK;
  • The new and innovative business has to be viable.  

In relation to the requirements of Tier 1 Investor visa, the investments that need to be made in order to be issued a Tier 1 Investor visa, the investments need to be qualifying investments for this visa category.

You may be tempted to invest in random businesses and investment schemes in the UK, however, you need to be aware that only qualifying investments are approved.

Previously, under the previous rules for the Tier 1 Investor visa category, it was permitted to make some of the investments into a business. However, this is no longer the position currently.

Therefore, you need to be very vigilant and make sure you understand the requirements for each of the UK immigration categories in order to make a good UK immigration decision as well as investments.

You are correct to request as much relevant information and evidence as possible and I very much encourage you to do so.

3. Your investments made in the UK need to be approved by the appropriate body

UK immigration authorities were no longer satisfied with any type of business investments made in the UK, therefore, it has a list of approved third party bodies who are to approve business investment ideas made under Tier 1 Innovator visa.

A third party body of your choice will assess whether your new business idea is new, novel and scalable.

The list of approved third party bodies who are permitted to endorse business ideas in the UK is here.

Please note that the endorsing body has the right to withdraw their endorsement.

There is no endorsing body assigned for Tier 1 Investor visa investments. Please note that the requirement here for the investments to be qualifying investments under the specific requirements of Tier 1 Investor visa category.

4. You need a better English for Tier 1 Innovator visa

Tier 1 Investor visa remains an attractive choice to individuals who do not speak English fluently. The English language requirement is set at A1 CEFR level.

A1 CEFR is a very basic command of English.

Tier 1 Innovator visa English language requirement is set at B2 CEFR. This English language requirement is set higher than the English requirement that needs to be met when applying for British citizenship.

The reason why the English language requirement is set much higher for Tier 1 Innovator visa applicants is because the entrepreneurs applying under the Tier 1 Innovator visa are expected to create and establish a new, innovative and viable business in the UK.

The expectation is to interact with everyone within the UK in fluent English.

Applicants arriving from English speaking countries satisfy their English language requirement by demonstrating their passports.

5. You need a greater investment to secure Tier 1 Investor visa

The minimum investment commitment for Tier 1 Innovator visa is £50,000. These funds are specific to funding your business in the UK. You will also need to have savings, which you will hold on your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply.

The minimum investment to satisfy Tier 1 Investor visa requirements is £2 Million. However, you may also choose to invest £5 or £10 Million. This depends on your personal financial circumstances and your determination to speed up your application and receive your indefinite leave to remain in less than 5 years, which depends on the investment level.

The size of investment funds required for Tier 1 Investor visa is substantially more than for the Tier 1 Innovator visa. There is an opportunity to speed up the process in obtaining indefinite leave to remain under Tier 1 Investor visa if funds for investment are available.

You want to discuss your requirements now, but you are not sure where to start or how to find the right UK immigration adviser for you and your family, schedule a phone call with me!

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Saule Voluckyte, M.A.E.S, LL.B, FAIA

I have been working exclusively with UHNWI in Mayfair, London since January 2008. I built specialist knowledge and expertise required to serve ultra high net worth individuals investing, operating and relocating to the UK or Switzerland.

Within the industry, I am the single adviser who is able to traverse the different areas of expertise and bring a comprehensive approach across: global structuring, UK immigration, international taxation and FOREX to develop their global wealth strategy, while they build, grow and expand their wealth worldwide.

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