The UK has now abolished Tier 1 Investor visa and this UK immigration route is no longer available.
UK Tier 1 Investor visa option was one of the primary UK immigration routes that enabled wealthy overseas individuals to come and live in the UK. More importantly it facilitated long-term residence rights and British citizenship.
There are additional resources here that discuss:
- alternatives to Tier 1 Investor visa route,
- UK tax considerations you need to be aware of as you relocate to the UK,
- how to choose the best UK visa for you,
- what do you need to know as you invest, operate or relocate to the UK or Switzerland,
- your UK immigration status if you did apply for a golden visa in Europe or received citizenship by investment.
The purpose of this blog is to remind you the historic features of UK Tier 1 Investor visa category. It will help you compare its feautures with other UK immigration categories you may be considering. Therefore, the rest of this blog post is kept in its original form unaltered. You may schedule a phone call with me here.
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You are wondering whether a Tier 1 Investor visa is the right choice for you as you plan to spend more time in the UK, earn UK residence rights and possibly, a British citizenship.
What is a Tier 1 Investor visa?
Tier 1 Investor visa is a specific visa category aimed at ultra high net worth individuals who want to come and live in the UK for an extended period of time. This UK visa category also allows the applicants who have successfully completed their residence requirements under the Tier 1 Investor visa, to apply for British citizenship.
Not sure whether Tier 1 Investor visa is the right choice for you, here are 5 signs that may indicate that this option is the right one for you:
1. English language requirement
This UK immigration category is very attractive to overseas nationals who are not native English speakers. The applicant has to demonstrate a very basic knowledge of English. You have to demonstrate that your English language is at A1 CEFR.
CEFR stands for Common Reference Levels as developed by the Council of Europe based in Strasbourg, France. Council of Europe is one of the oldest European international organisations. As an independent international organisation, it is distinct from the European Union. It was founded 1949 and 47 countries are members of this European international organisation.
If you are a passport holder of a major English speaking country, your English language requirement is met by demonstrating your passport.
The list of major English language speaking countries is as follows: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, USA, Malta.
If you are a national of one of these listed countries, you are not required to prove your English language skills separately.
2. You want to invest in the UK
You have at least £2M up to the maximum £10M available that you wish to set aside and invest in the UK.
A word of caution. Not every investment of choice is suitable to be awarded a Tier 1 Investor visa if mandatory visa application requirements are met.
To qualify for a Tier 1 Investor visa, only qualifying investments for Tier 1 Investor visa are accepted.
You need to check the latest guidance on what the Home Office considers qualifying investments for the purposes of Tier 1 Investor.
Previously, the requirement was to invest in government bonds, which is no longer the case. You need to make sure you follow the latest requirements accurately.
Failure to follow the latest requirements may mean that your application is to be rejected and the leave if already granted, curtailed.
In UK immigration law, leave to remain indicates the right to live in the UK for the specified amount of time. Leave to remain may be curtailed if you no longer meet the conditions and requirements under which your leave to remain was granted.
Curtailing means that the time period you were initially awarded to remain in the UK is to be interrupted and you will be asked to leave the UK before your current leave (visa) expires.
It may not be emphasised enough why a professional independent advice needs to be sought very early on when making the initial application and to continuously monitor that the visa requirements are continued to be met until you gain your complete residence rights in the UK.
3. Looking to gain your UK residence rights faster
The amount of investments available may lead you to acquire your full UK residence rights faster. In UK immigration law, these rights are called indefinite leave to remain. As you obtain your indefinite leave to remain this means you are free from UK immigration. You have the same rights as British citizens and become eligible to apply for British citizenship.
The minimum investment requirement of £2M will secure your indefinite leave to remain after 5 years of legal residence in the UK. Please note that you will have to apply for the visa extension after 3 years and 4 months for another 2 years. You will be able to apply for the indefinite leave to remain if you continue to meet the requirements 3 years and 4 months later and your visa extension application is successful.
You may fast-track your residence in the UK if you invest more into the qualifying investments in the UK.
An investment of £5M will mean that you will become eligible to apply for the indefinite leave to remain after 3 years of lawful residence in the UK.
An investment of £10M will fast-track your application to 2 years of lawful residence in the UK. You will be eligible to apply for the indefinite leave to remain after 2 years of lawful residence in the UK.
Please note that if you do choose to fast-track your lawful residence rights in the UK, you still need to make sure that you and your investments continue to meet extensive requirements for your application for the indefinite leave to remain to be successful.
4. You want to spend more than 180 days in the UK
Typically, ultra high net worth individuals expect to be able to continue their lifestyle unhindered by requirements for specific residence in the UK.
A lot of extension and indefinite leave applications fall apart when the residence requirement is not met.
The residence requirement means that you have to demonstrate that you have lived in the UK during the required period of time, which is 2 or 3 years depending on the amount of the financial investment you are choosing to make.
For the extension and indefinite leave applications to be successful, you have to demonstrate that your absences from the UK did not exceed 180 days. Absences mean the amount of days spent outside the UK.
Please note that the Home Office calculates these absences in a very specific manner.
This requirement is taken seriously by the UK immigration authorities and the applications that do not meet this compulsory requirement are normally rejected.
5. You want to be awarded British citizenship
Over the years substantial changes to UK immigration law were made to reduce the number of UK immigration categories that would allow an overseas national to become eligible to apply for British citizenship.
There are a number of UK immigration categories that allow people to visit, study and to temporarily work in the UK. However, these same UK immigration categories do not allow obtaining full and complete UK residence rights and becoming eligible to apply for British citizenship.
Tier 1 Investor visa UK immigration category paves the way to obtaining the indefinite leave to remain and becoming eligible to apply for British citizenship.
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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.
Previous experience as one of the senior advisors for the government, made me a go-to person when delicate and uncomfortable scenarios involving heads of state need to be handled with care and preserve privacy.