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United Kingdom

The UK has long been a significant world power, both economically and politically. London is the financial capital of the world, offering an international business environment. The UK is also renowned for having some of the best educational institutions in the world and an open, international culture.

United Kingdom

Residence-by-Investment

The Tier 1 Investor visa requires an individual to make a substantial financial commitment in the UK. To qualify, applicants must have held no less than GBP 2 million under their control for two years in advance of the initial application, failing which they must provide evidence of the source of the funds.

Enquiry Factsheet

Investment

GBP 2 million

Processing time

Two–four weeks from submission of the application to approval

Key benefit

The right to live, work, and study anywhere in the United Kingdom

UK Investor Immigration Visa — An Overview

The UK immigration rules are set to attract investors, entrepreneurs, and people of talent. Recent changes have seen the UK close immigration to highly skilled workers and some other immigration categories. Therefore, for wealthy individuals, one of the best options in order to qualify for leave to remain in the UK is the Tier 1 Investor visa.

The investor category is designed to allow wealthy individuals who make a substantial financial investment in the UK to obtain permission from the UK to enter as an investor under the Tier 1 category. The applicant must invest a minimum of GBP 2 million in the UK.

The Tier 1 Investor category has the shortest investor immigration application processing time among the G8 countries and has very objective entry criteria, with a predictable outcome.

Criteria for the UK Investor Immigration Visa

The criteria specify that the applicant must show that they have money of their own under their control in a regulated financial institution amounting to no less than GBP 2 million.

The individual must invest for five years in the UK by way of UK share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK-registered companies (other than those principally engaged in property investment). Investment in government bonds and offshore companies is not permitted.

The applicant is not required to show business experience or the ability to speak English. Some nationals (Chinese, Nigerian, Russian, among others) are required to undertake a TB test before submitting their application. Investors are permitted to be gainfully employed under this visa or undertake a course of study in the UK.

The UK expects the investor and their family to intend to make the UK their main home. In order to be granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR), the main applicant and their spouse should not spend more than 180 days per year outside the UK. All children who originally applied as the main applicant’s dependents will only be granted ILR if both parents are eligible for ILR.

The applicant will initially obtain the Tier 1 visa for 40 months. Within three months of entry into the UK, they are required to make the investment of GBP 2 million, which must be maintained throughout the period of leave.

At the expiry of the initial 40-month period, the investor must apply for an ‘extension of stay’. The UK government will grant a two-year extension of stay to the whole family if the investor has satisfied the requirements for leave to enter, that is, if they have maintained the investment and adhered to the other general conditions for leave to enter.

Accelerated route to permanent residence by increased investment amounts

On 6 April 2011, the government announced new rules that provide the ability to achieve ILR, which is permanent residence, through an accelerated route. The new requirement is an increased investment. An investment of GBP 10 million or more will provide for settlement after two years, and an investment of GBP 5 million or more will provide for settlement after three years, instead of the usual five years. It is important to know that only the main applicant will have their route to permanent residence fast-tracked through a higher level of investment; their dependents (spouse and children) can only apply for permanent residence after living in the UK for five years.

Application for dependents

The main applicant’s spouse and children under the age of 18 years can apply as dependents. The UK investor visa does not provide for dependent parents, who may be required to apply for leave to enter the UK under a different visa category, although this route is currently very difficult. Alternatively, the parents and other extended family could consider obtaining an alternative citizenship and passport such as from Antigua and Barbuda, so that they may travel freely into the UK for up to a six-month period at any one time.

All of the above information is available in detail on the Home Office website and this information is not intended to be immigration advice.

Additional Residence Visa Options — Innovator Program

The Tier 1 Innovator visa is aimed at those who can demonstrate relevant experience in business. It requires an individual to set up or run an existing business in the UK. The applicant must be at least 18 years of age and have at least GBP 50,000 in investment funds if they want to set up a new business. They do not need funds if their business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa. The funding can come from any source.

Before one applies, one needs to have one’s business or business idea assessed by a Home Office–approved endorsing body. They will assess the viability of the business or business idea and, if approved, provide an endorsement letter to submit with the application.

The immigration rules distinguish between applicants who apply under the ‘new business’ criteria and those who apply under the ‘same business’ criteria. Individuals who go to the UK for the first time will need to apply under the ‘new business’ requirement.

Successful innovators are granted leave for three years at a time and can bring their family members to the UK. After three years, innovators can apply to extend their stay for a further three years or to settle permanently in the UK under indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Each of these three stages (initial application, extension, settlement) requires endorsement from an endorsing body. To qualify for ILR under the Tier 1 Innovator visa category, applicants are required to meet certain criteria, detailed in the downloadable UK Innovator Program factsheet.

Criteria for the UK Innovator Program

You can apply for a Tier 1 Innovator visa if:

  • You want to set up or run a business in the UK. You need to have your business or business idea endorsed by an approved body
  • You are outside the UK
  • You meet the other eligibility requirements (that is, are 18 years old, have sufficient personal savings, and speak the English language)

Procedures and time frame of the UK Innovator Program

The completed application and supporting documentation must be submitted to the diplomatic post in the applicant’s country of residence. The time frame from the submission of the application is dependent on the embassy receiving the application, and approval may take between one and eight weeks. Upon expiry of the initial three-year period, the main applicant must apply for an ‘extension of stay’ from within the UK. The authorities will issue the applicant with a three-year extension if all relevant criteria are met. Upon being granted settlement and spending a minimum of five years in the UK (the applicant must have held ILR in the last 12 months of that period), it is possible to apply for British citizenship.

Key advantages of the UK Innovator Program

  • International business environment — London is the financial capital of the world
  • Attractive tax regime for high-net-worth individuals who are resident but not domiciled
  • Direct international flight connections to almost all major cities in the world
  • World-renowned schools and universities

Detailed information on the Tier 1 Innovator visa is available on the Home Office website. This information is not intended to be immigration advice.

Additional Residence Visa Options — UK Overseas Business Visa

The Representatives of an Overseas Business visa is designed primarily to allow senior executives and managers of an overseas company to enter the UK to set up the company's first UK office, branch, or subsidiary.

Prospective investors who are senior employees of an overseas business and would like to go to the UK to set up and run a UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary of that business may be able to submit an application for a sole representative visa. The company must have its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK and, where applicants are seeking entry as sole representatives, the company must have no other branch, subsidiary, or representative in the UK.

Criteria for the UK Overseas Business Visa

Applicants must:

  • Have an intention to work full-time for their current employer in the UK and must have been recruited and employed outside the UK
  • Maintain a physical residence in the UK to avoid losing their permanent resident status
  • Pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test and an English language exam

The company:

  • Must have its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK
  • Must have no other branch, subsidiary, or representative in the UK
  • Must not have transacted business in the UK
  • Cannot have any employees in the UK, although it can have previously used agents, such as distributors, in the UK
  • Must be the same type of business as the parent company, which must still be actively trading and remain centered overseas

Procedures and time frame of the UK Overseas Business Visa

Prospective investors who are senior employees of an overseas business and would like to go to the UK to set up and run a UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary of that business may be able to submit an application for a sole representative visa. Married or unmarried partners and dependent children under 18 can apply to live in the UK along with the sole representative.

Successful applicants will be given permission to enter and remain in the UK for up to three years initially. Applicants from certain countries will be required to register with the police within seven days of their arrival in the UK.

Beyond this, they will need to submit a further application for leave to remain, which would be valid for two years. After five years in the UK in the sole representative visa category, successful applicants may be granted permission to remain in the UK permanently.

Key advantages of the UK Overseas Business Visa

  • International business environment — London is the financial capital of the world
  • Attractive tax regime for high-net-worth individuals who are resident but not domiciled
  • Direct international flight connections to almost all major cities in the world
  • World-renowned schools and universities
United Kingdom

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