Important factors to consider in residence planning
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.
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.
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.
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.