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TIER 1 – INVESTOR VISA – Ultimate Guide

1. Introduction: What is the Tier 1 Investor Visa?

The Tier 1 Investor visa, sometimes referred to as the UK Golden Visa, is a Tier 1 visa category with allows a migrant and their family to enter/remain and settle in the UK by way of an economic investment. The route is open to all nationalises and does not have any maximum age restrictions.

As a basic overview of the visa the migrant must have available a minimum of £2 million GBP for investment in the UK at the time of application in order to be granted the visa. These funds must then be invested within 3 months of entry to the UK and continue to be invested for the length of the visa.

2. How long is the visa issued for?

Applications to switch to an Investor visa from inside the UK are issued for a period of 3 years. Migrants applying for entry clearance will be issued a period of 3 years and 4 months on their initial visa. Each subsequent extension is then issued for a period of 2 years in all cases.

3. How long does it take to get Indefinite leave to remain?

The length of time to Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) depends on how much money has been invested.

  • If £2 million GBP is invested then you may qualify for ILR after a period of 5 years.
  • If £5 million GBP is invested then you may qualify for ILR after a period of 3 years
  • If £10 million GBP is invested then you may qualify for ILR after a period of 2 years.

4. When can you apply for British Nationality?

For migrants whom invested £2 million GBP they will be able to apply for British nationality 1 year after having obtained ILR, that would be in year 6
For migrants whom invested either £5 million or £10 million GBP they will be able to apply for British nationality after 5 years, shortening the process by 1 year.

5. Can I bring my family?

Yes, spouses or unmarried partners whom have lived with you for 2 years or more can be included in your application.

Dependent children under the age of 18 can also be included.

Children have full access to state schools and spouses have the full right to work or study.

6. Quick overview of the visa timeline:

Step 1: Initial Visa application
Step 2: Make investment within 3 months of entering the UK
Step 3: Make Extension application showing that investment was maintained over 3 years
Step 4: Make ILR application showing that investment was maintained over 2 years

Please note migrants whom invest £5 million or £10 Million will apply for ILR at step 3 and therefore skip step 4.

7. What are the requirements of the initial visa?

7.1 – Funds available for investment

You will be required to evidence that you have £2 million GBP available to invest in the UK.  Should the funds be held in the UK, they will need to be held in a  UK based financial institution and the money must be disposable in the UK. Alternatively, if the funds are held outside the UK, the money will need to be freely transferable to the UK and convertible to sterling.

The funds must be under the applicant’s own personal control, i.e. you must be the beneficial owner of the funds. This includes money you hold jointly with your spouse, or money they own solely in their own name.   

The funds will either have to have been in the relevant account for 2 years prior to the application date. If the funds have not been held for 2 years, you will be required to evidence the source of funds. 

The following are accepted sources of funds for the purpose of a Tier   1  Investor  application:

  • Gift
  • Deed of sales
  • Evidence from a business
  • Will
  • Divorce settlement
  • Award or winnings

If the funds have been held in your personal account for 2 years prior to the date of application, we advise that you can evidence the funds by obtaining a letter from the institution that holds the funds. We will supply all necessary template letters where necessary.

Additional points:

  • If you wish to, you can rely on money you hold jointly with your spouse or partner, or money they own solely in their own name.
  • There is no requirement for the funds to be transferred to the United Kingdom before the application is granted, although the institution holding the funds will have to confirm that they are transferable to the UK.

You can also rely on pre-existing investments that are in the United Kingdom already (although no more than 12 months old) or pre-existing investments worldwide (provided that these can be liquidated and transferred to the UK).

7.2 – UK Investment Account

The second requirement of the visa is that you must have opened a UK investment account with an Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulated bank or investment firm. The account must be opened before you apply and the bank or investment firm must confirm in a letter that they have opened your account following the completion of relevant and appropriate background checks as required under their FCA regulation.

7.3 – Criminal Record Check

The final requirement of the visa is that you obtain a certificate of clean criminal record for any country which you have lived in for 12 months in total over the last 10 year period. This requirement applies to the main applicant and spouse.

If you can meet all the above you will be issued with the Investor visa. Once in the UK you need to make your investment within 90 days of your entry in order to comply with your visa (see extension requirements for further details)

8 – What are the requirements for extension?

Once you old the Tier 1 Investor visa, your  visa  will be valid for 3 years and 4 months in most cases (or 3 years if you applied from inside the UK) and you will have to adhere to certain conditions. Regarding the investment conditions attached to your  visa, we advise the following;

8.1 Making  the investment

Within 90 days of entering the UK you will be required to invest the full amount (£2, £5 or £10 Million GBP) in one or a combination of the following: 

  • Share capital in active and trading UK registered company
  • Loan capital in active and trading UK registered company 
  • A qualifying Pooled investment vehicle

Please note: investment in any type or size of UK registered company is accepted unless they are exempt by the rules

The exceptions are: 

  • No investment in property or property management (although please note that this does not include companies merely engaged in construction);
  • No investment in open ended investment vehicles unless specifically approved;
  • No investment in shares purchased on margin; 
  • No simple deposits made into UK Banks; 

No investments outside the United Kingdom.

8.2 maintaining the Investment

In addition to showing that you made the investment within 90 days of entering the UK, you also need to show that you correctly maintained your investment during the length of your visa. The evidence required to show this would be a detailed investment report/portfolio which demonstrates that your investment was always maintained.

Although you can buy and sell your investments at any time, you must have the full funds invested by the end of the next portfolio report (in most cases every quarter). As of the rule changes in 2014 If the value of your investment decreases below the required amount you do not need to put in further funds.

If the application for extension is approved, a further two year extension is granted, you will need to continue maintaining your investment during these two years. 

9 – What are the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

9.1 – Length of residence

In order be able to gain indefinite leave to remain, the you must have resided on the  Investor  visa in the UK for the appropriate amount of time;  for 5 years those investing £2 million GBP, 3 years for those investing £5 million and 2 years for those investing £10 million. 

9.2 Absences

You also must not have travelled outside the United Kingdom for more than 180 days (6 months) for any 12 months period over the length of residence period

9.3 Knowledge of English

You will also be required to pass an English Language test (speaking and listening test) and pass at level B1 or above and take a Life in the UK test. Any dependent over the age of 18 will also be required to pass the tests.

Applicants under 18 or over the age of 65 are exempt from both tests.

10 – What can you do on an Investor visa?

  • You may take employment and engage in business or self-employment; for example, as a consultant or a director.
  • Your dependants who have been given permission to accompany you may also take employment during their stay in the United Kingdom.
  • You and your dependants may study in the UK should you choose to do so.
  • You may freely travel in and out of the UK as you please
  • You are able to purchase a property or any other asset.

11 – How much does an Investor visa costs?

The fees for the visa depend on if you are applying from inside of outside the UK. The fees also tend to increase on a yearly basis, to get the latest quote you can use the Home office fee calculator

12- Are there any other fees I have to pay for?

Apart from the Home office processing fee there is an additional requirement to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) this is a forward payment for the right to use the UK health service and is mandatory for each applicant. The exact fee will depend on where you are applying from but in general works out to £400 per person, per year of your visa.

13 – How long does it take to get an Investor visa?

Applications from inside the UK can be processed using the Super-Premium service which takes around 24 hours for an additional fee. Otherwise the normal postal service takes around 8-12 weeks.

Applications from outside the UK tend to take 14 working days but can be reduced to around 5 working days if the option for a paid priority service is available from your application location.

14 – How do you apply for an Investor visa?

The exact process will depend on which country you are applying from. However as a general overview the first thing required is the completion of the Online application form, this for will gather your personal data and immigration history. Once complete and you have all your documents you can finalise your form by submitting it online and making the visa payment.

Once you have made the payment you will be able to book the in-person submission appointment where you will hand over your documents and give your biometric information such as fingerprint and iris scans.

Once your biometric appointment is complete your case is in the processing cue and you just need to wait for the decision to be made.

15 – What happens after my visa is granted?

If you are in the UK then you will receive your decision and Biometric card containing your visa via post.

If you are outside the UK then you will first receive a single entry visa in your passport which will allow you to enter the UK and pick up your Biometric Card. The Biometric card is your full visa.

The single entry visa is valid for 30 days only, however once you have picked up your Biometric card you are free to travel in and out as you wish.

16 – What happens if my visa application is refused?

Unfortunately there are times when visas are refused, however this can be resolved in most cases. The first thing to do is to ensure you have a copy of your refusal letter as this will tell you what the exact reason for refusal was.

After obtaining the refusal letter it is recommend that you speak with an immigration lawyer, they will guide you on the best way forward, this will be one of two options;

  1. Apply for Administrative review, or
  2. Re-apply

Administrative review is a way to challenge a refusal based on the Home office having made a legal error in assessing your case. The submissions needs to be made within 14 days if you are inside the UK or 28 days if you are outside the UK. The submissions must be made in writing and can only be based on a legal error. In most cases it is not possible to provide extra documents during an administrative review unless there is an allegation that you have used a fake document. For this reason it is important to submit an application that fully meets the requirements and is presented in a clear way to the Home office.

If its not appropriate to submit an administrative review or if the administrative review was not successful then there is always an option to re-apply. In the majority of refusals there is no restriction when you can re-applying. Furthermore in most simple refusals such as those involving document errors, the previous refusal does not have a significant effect on the next visa application.

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