Foreign nationals seeking to obtain residency in the UK can obtain this via a Tier 1 (Investor) Visa.
After the visa has been held for 5 years applicants can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), and from that point effectively have UK residency as the visa has no further restrictions.
Criteria for application
Visas are awarded on a points based system with points awarded for the following
1.) The applicant must hold funds in a regulated financial institution and be able to transfer or already hold no less than £1 million in the UK.
2.) The applicant must have worldwide net assets greater than £2 million – net of liabilities and must be able to borrow £1 million against these assets from a regulated financial institution. As above, no less than £1 million should be held in the UK.
Applications should be made from the applicant’s home country or country of legal residence. If already in the UK under a different immigration path, in some circumstances this may be switched to Tier 1 (Investor). Documentation is usually handled by an agent. Once the relevant forms are completed and necessary documents obtained, the agent submits the paperwork to the UK Border Agency for approval, and if successful a visa is issued for 3 years.
A Tier 1 (Investor) migrant must have made a minimum investment of £750,000 in equities and fixed interest within 13 weeks of the Specified Date. The Specified Date is either: -
- The date of entry to the United Kingdom, where an applicant is granted clearance as a Tier 1 (Investor) migrant and there is evidence to establish the applicants date of entry to the United Kingdom; or
- The date of the applicant’s grant of entry clearance, where an applicant is granted entry clearance as a Tier 1 (Investor) migrant and there is no evidence to establish the applicant’s date of entry to the United Kingdom; or
- The date of the applicant’s grant of leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Investor), in any other case.
This does not apply where the applicant’s last grant of leave prior to the grant of leave that he currently has, was as a Tier 1 (Investor) migrant or as an Investor. Where the applicant has been found not to have made the investment within three months of the specified date, they may have their leave curtailed.
Within 3 months of the Visa issuance, or for overseas applicants within 13 weeks of the Specified Date, at least £750,000 of the minimum £1 million must be invested in any of the following investments: -
Gilts (UK Government Bonds)
UK Shares (where the company is UK registered or has a registered office in the UK and is listed on the UK stock market)
Loan capital in active UK registered companies (specifically excluding property companies)
Whilst the full £1 million can be invested in the above, applicants can also invest any balance over £750,000 in a UK bank, or in direct property in the UK.
Investment Trusts, Unit Trusts and other forms of collectives are specifically excluded as the underlying investments cannot be guaranteed to be UK based.
Evidence of investment
Paragraphs 245AA and 59 of Appendix A of the Immigration Rules state that only specified documents will be accepted as evidence of this requirement.
A portfolio of investments certified as correct by a UK regulated financial institution, which must: -
- Cover the required period of the applicants permission to stay in this category. This period begins no later than 13 weeks after the applicant’s specified date.
- Continue to the last reporting date of the most recent quarter of the year directly before the date of the application for an extension.
- Include the value of the investments.
- Show that any shortfall in investments was made up by the next reporting period. For example if the investments are shown to have fallen in value in the February report in a year, and the investments have a quarterly reporting period, the value has been made up by the June report. Effectively a portfolio can fall below the minimum value in a quarter as long as it is corrected by the next quarterly report.
- Show the dates that the investments were made.
- Show the destination of the investments, which should be United Kingdom companies/debt as described above.
- (for investments made as loan funds only) Include audited accounts or unaudited accounts with an accountant’s certificate (see section 2c of Home Office UK Border Agency document on SharePoint for more details) for investments made as loan funds to companies, which must give the full details of the applicant’s investment.
- Show the name and contact details of the financial institution that has certified the portfolio as correct, and confirmation that this institution is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – this will normally appear on the letterhead of all official documentation.
- Show that the investments were made in the applicant’s name and/or that of his/her spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner and not in the name of an offshore company or trust even if this is wholly owned by the applicant.
- Include the date that the portfolio was certified by the financial institution.
- State that the institution will confirm the content of the letter upon request.
Visa completion period
Towards the end of the initial 3 year period the applicant can apply to extend the Tier 1 (Investor) visa by an additional 2 years. In order to satisfy the requirements for an extension the assets must have been correctly invested during the entire 3 year period.
These requirements are: -
- Have no less than £750,000 invested in the assets noted under Investment requirements, within 13 weeks of entry to the UK.
- Have maintained a total level of funds in the UK (including the above) in excess of £1 million, throughout the period of residence.
Obtaining permanent residency
After 5 years of continuous residence within the UK a Tier 1 (Investor) can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Once approved the ILR visa has no further restrictions. Full British citizenship can be obtained when an applicant has lived in the UK under a Tier 1 (Investor) application for 5 years (although see below) and held ILR for at least 1 year.
Fast track applications
Applicants can speed up the route to ILR status by: -
- Investing at least £10 million in the UK; reduces the continuous residence period to 2 years.
- Investing at least £5 million in the UK; reduces the continuous residence period to 3 years.