Investor Visa for UK Residency & Citizenship

investor visa uk

The Investor visa offers a route to UK residency and citizenship if you make a qualifying investment.

 
The UK Tier 1 (Investor) Visa provides a specialist visa route for high-net-worth individuals seeking to move to the United Kingdom. To be eligible for the Investor Visa, applicants must be able and willing to invest at least £2,000,000 into British companies and the UK economy. This specialist visa category allows successful applicants to work and study in the UK. It additionally provides a route to settlement and citizenship for eligible individuals.

The Tier 1 (Investor) Visa process is one of the more complex visa categories due to the amount of financial information that must be provided. It is important to ensure that you follow the correct steps to apply for your Investor Visa, as your ability to move to the United Kingdom will depend upon the acceptance of your application by the Home Office. This article will outline common questions and concerns from investors around the world who are applying for an Investor Visa.
 

What is the UK Investor Visa?


The UK Tier 1 (Investor) Visa is a visa category that provides a route to permanent residency for high-net-worth individuals who are able and willing to invest at least £2,000,000 into British companies and the economy. This money must be legally sourced, held in the bank account of either the applicant or their spouse/partner for at least 90 days. You must be prepared to place all relevant investment funds in a regulated UK bank account for easy access and financial compliance purposes. Applicants to the UK Investor Visa must be able to invest a minimum of £2,000,000 to gain permanent residency within 5 years of arrival and can expedite this settlement process by investing larger sums of money. This visa does not require you to provide proof of proficiency in the English language. You can live in the UK for a maximum of 3 years and 4 months on an Investor Visa and may be eligible for a visa extension or settlement at the end of this period.
 

What does the UK Investor Visa allow?


A UK Investor Visa allows for specific activities throughout your time in the United Kingdom. You can do the following activities:

  • You can work or study, though you can choose to do neither
  • You can apply for settlement in the UK after 5 years if you invest at least £2,000,000
  • You can apply for settlement in the UK after 3 years if you invest at least £5,000,000
  • You can apply for settlement in the UK after 2 years if you invest at least £10,000,000
  • A UK Investor Visa does not allow for the following activities:
  • You cannot work as a sports coach or professional sportsperson
  • You cannot apply for most benefits, also known as Public Funds
  • You cannot work as a doctor or trainee dentist unless you meet one of the following conditions:
  • You have a UK medical or dentistry degree from a student sponsoring institution, a UK-recognised body, or a listed body
  • You previously worked as a doctor or trainee dentist in the UK
  • You were not subject to bans on the above conditions on a prior UK visa

 

Investor Visa requirements


To be eligible for the Investor Visa, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You must be age 18 or over
  • You have at least £2,000,000 of legally sourced funds immediately available for investment in UK companies
  • Your funds can be in any currency but must equal or exceed £2,000,000.00 in Great British Pounds Sterling on the date of your application
  • Your funds must be freely transferable upon arrival to the UK
  • Your funds must be held in one or more globally regulated financial institutions, either overseas or in the UK

 
You must be able to provide documentation providing that your investment funds are yours or belong to your spouse/partner. If the funds are held by you, you will need to provide:

  • Information on the amount of money you have to invest and where your investment funds are currently being held
  • If you have had your investment funds for more than 2 years, you do not need to demonstrate specific evidence regarding the source of your funds. You will need to demonstrate that these funds were legally sourced, however
  • If you have had your investments funds for less than 2 years, extensive information will be required to demonstrate how you obtained your investment funds. For example, these funds were:
  • Inheritance from a will of a deceased relative
  • Proceeds of a personal asset sale
  • Proceeds of a business asset sale
  • Gifted money
  • Financial winnings or an award
  • Proceeds from a divorce settlement
  • Any other legal source of funds provided that independent corroboration and documentation can be provided
  • Proof that your investment funds can be converted to Pounds Sterling and can be transferred to a regulated UK bank account if your funds are not already in the UK

 
If the funds are held by your spouse/partner, you will need to provide the above information in addition to the following documentation:

  • Your marriage certificate or certificate of civil partnership, or proof of your unmarried partnership for a minimum of 2 years
  • A written statement by your spouse/partner detailing that they will permit you to access and control the investment funds whilst in the UK
  • A written statement from your legal adviser attesting to the validity of your partner’s written statement

 
You must have opened a bank account at a regulated UK bank to hold these funds if your visa is accepted. You must provide a letter from your regulated UK bank with the following information:

  • Your bank must confirm that it has conducted checks to ensure money laundering has not taken place
  • Your bank must confirm that they are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority
  • Your bank must confirm that you have opened a bank account to invest a minimum of £2,000,000
  • Your bank must state your account number and full legal name
  • Your bank must issue this letter on the official letterhead of the bank
  • Your bank must date this letter and it must have been issued within 3 months of your application
  • Your letter must have been issued and signed by an authorised official of the bank

 

How apply for a UK Investor Visa


To apply for a UK Investor Visa, you must follow a series of steps to best assure that your application will be accepted by the Home Office. You can submit this application yourself, or hire an agent or representative to apply on your behalf.

First, you must ensure that you possess the appropriate amount of investment funds to be eligible for the Investor Visa. This is a minimum of £2,000,000 of readily accessible funds.

Second, you must open a bank account with a regulated UK banking institution where you will hold all investable funds if your visa is accepted.

Third, you will prepare all documents in preparation for submitting your Investor Visa application. Your documents must be in English or Welsh – if they are not, you will need to provide the original documents alongside certified translations. You will need to prepare the following mandatory documents and information:

  • Your valid passport with a blank page
  • An up-to-date Tuberculosis certificate if required for your country of nationality
  • A criminal record certificate from every country in which you have lived over the past 10 years for more than a total of 12 months
  • Evidence of your investment funds – please see the above guidance and note that specific documentation will vary upon your specific circumstances and the provenance of your investment funds

 
Finally, once you have collected all of your documents you are ready to apply for your Tier 1 (Investor) Visa. You can apply from outside the UK, inside the UK if you are extending your current visa, or inside the UK if you are switching from a different visa category.

Applying for your Tier 1 (Investor) Visa from outside the UK


The vast majority of applicants will submit their Investor Visa application online. You must either submit your application from your country of nationality or a country where you have valid immigration permission. During the application, you will need to pay the full cost of the IHS fee of £624 per year of your visa. The total amount of this fee will depend upon the desired length of your visa. At the end of the online application, you will need to pay the application fee of £1,623.

Next, you will need to book a biometrics appointment at a suitable visa application centre in your country of application. You can either upload your supporting documentation online before your appointment or pay an additional fee to have your supporting documentation scanned and uploaded at the appointment. You will have your fingerprints recorded, a photograph taken, and your supporting documentation confirmed at the biometrics appointment. Your passport will likely be sent to the UK government for an entry clearance stamp to be placed inside.

After this appointment, you will normally receive a decision within 3 weeks. You may be able to pay to receive a decision more quickly than this. If your application will take longer than 3 weeks, you will be contacted directly by the Home Office. If your application is successful, you will be issued entry clearance in your passport which will note the first date you can enter the UK. Upon arrival in the UK, you will need to retrieve your Biometric Residence Permit within 10 days of your stated date of arrival. It will either be shipped to a local Post Office or sent via courier to your mailing address.

If you are applying for your Tier 1 (Investor) Visa from inside the UK to extend your current visa OR to switch from a different visa category:

A small minority of applicants will submit their Investor Visa application from inside the UK. You will submit your Investor Visa application online. During the application, you will need to pay the full cost of the IHS fee of £624 per year of your visa. For a 2-year visa extension, the total IHS fee would be £1,248. You will be issued an IHS number as proof of payment to input into the application. At the end of the online application, you will need to pay the application fee of £1,623.

Next, you will need to book a biometrics appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point anywhere in the UK. It will cost £19.20 to book this appointment. You can either upload your supporting documentation online before your appointment or pay an additional fee to have your supporting documentation scanned and uploaded at the appointment. You will have your fingerprints recorded, a photograph taken, and your supporting documentation confirmed at the biometrics appointment. For some applicants, you may be able to use a mobile phone application instead of attending this appointment. You will be instructed on what to do when you submit your online application.

After this appointment or use of the mobile application, you will normally receive a decision within 8 weeks. You may be able to pay to receive a decision more quickly than this. If your application is successful, you will be issued a decision letter or decision email from the Home Office. If your visa extension or visa switch is approved, your Biometric Residence Permit will be sent to your mailing address via courier.
 

Why are UK Investor Visa applications refused?


You must follow all instructions as noted on your Tier 1 (Investor) Visa application form, and answer all questions truthfully. You should also ensure that all of your supporting documentation is in order before the submission of your online application. If you do not take due diligence in both of these areas, your Investor Visa could be refused. Some common grounds for refusal of the UK Investor Visa include important factors such as:

  • Failure to adequately demonstrate evidence of the source of intended investment funds
  • Failure to adequately demonstrate the legal sourcing of intended investment funds
  • Failure to provide overseas criminal records certificates
  • Failure to provide English or Welsh translations for all supporting documentation
  • Prior breaches of UK immigration law and/or a history of visa overstayiPriorioir history of criminal convictions not disclosed in your application

 

Investor Visa dependants


You may be able to bring dependants to the UK on an Investor Visa. Their immigration status will be tied to yours throughout your visa. Dependants are considered the following:

  • A wife, husband, civil partner, or unmarried partner
  • A child under the age of 18
  • A child over the age of 18, if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant

 
As part of the supporting documentation for your Investor Visa, you will need to provide evidence of your relationship to each of your dependants such as marriage certificates and birth certificates. For children over the age of 16, you may need to provide more specific documentation.

If you are applying from outside the UK, each dependant will need to complete a separate visa application and pay the correct visa application fee. You will also need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee for each dependant. Each dependant will need to include your Unique Application Number on their online visa application. If you are applying from inside the UK, you can include dependants in your online Investor Visa application.

Please note that your dependants will not be eligible for accelerated settlement. They will require a residence of 5 years to be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status.
 

Can the UK Investor Visa be extended?


You can apply to extend your UK Tier 1 (Investor) Visa for an additional 2 years. You must maintain all eligibility requirements as you did for your prior visa application. Depending upon your investment amount after 3 years and 4 months, you may be eligible for accelerated settlement.
 

Can UK residency be obtained as an investor?


If you have lived in the UK for at least 2, 3, or 5 years on an Investor Visa, you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence status, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This settlement status allows you to remain in the UK indefinitely without being subject to immigration control. As a permanent resident of the UK, you can work for any employer without limitations, engage in self-employment, or study at any university without needing prior permission from the Home Office. You may also access public funds and benefits as a permanent resident. However, it is important to note that your Indefinite Leave to Remain status can expire if you leave the UK for more than 2 years.

You must meet one of the following conditions:

  • You have lawful lived in the UK for 5 years on an Investor Visa and have invested a minimum of £10,000,000 through share capital or loan capital in one or more active and trading companies registered in the UK and/or UK government bonds
  • You have lawfully lived in the UK for 3 years on an Investor Visa and have invested a minimum of £5,000,000 through share capital or loan capital in one or more active and trading companies registered in the UK and/or in UK government bonds
  • You have lawfully lived in the UK for 2 years on an Investor Visa and have invested a minimum of £2,000,000 through share capital or loan capital in one or more active and trading companies registered in the UK and/or in UK government bonds

 
You must also meet the general eligibility requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain status through an Investor Visa, as follows:

  • You began investing funds within 3 months of your investing start date, as stipulated by the conditions of your Tier 1 (Investor) Visa
  • You currently have at least £2,000,000 under your control in a UK bank account
  • You have not broken UK immigration laws over the relevant period
  • You do not have a criminal record in the UK
  • You have not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in the past 12 months
  • You have successfully passed the Life in the UK Test, unless you are age 65 or over
  • You speak English at a minimum B1 Level as identified by the Common European Framework of Languages, unless you are age 65 or over

 
If you meet these requirements, you can apply online via ILR Form Set (O) to become a permanent resident of the UK. It currently costs £2,389 per person to apply for ILR, and your application will generally be processed within 6 months from the date of application. You can pay additional funds ranging from £500 to £800 to expedite your application.
 

What is the British citizenship application process as an investor?


You may be eligible to become a British citizen after you have possessed UK permanent residence status, known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), for at least 12 months. This citizenship status gives you the same rights as any other British citizen and there are no limitations on your ability to live, work, and study in the UK. You can also access public funds and benefits as a British citizen.

Importantly, citizenship carries certain benefits not afforded to those who only possess rights of permanent residence in the UK. These benefits include factors such as:

  • Requesting a British passport
  • Voting in all elections – however, you might be able to do so in some elections depending on your existing nationality
  • Standing as a candidate for elections – however, you might be able to do so in some elections depending on your existing nationality
  • Leaving the UK more than 2 years at a time without losing residence rights
  • Obtaining British citizenship for your children if they were born outside the UK

 
To qualify for naturalised British citizenship through your Investor Visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be 18 years or over
  • You have lived within the UK for at least 3 years before the date of your application
  • You have held legal permanent residence status via Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least 12 months
  • You have not been absent from the UK in the past 12 months for more than 90 days
  • You must be able to prove that you were in the UK exactly 3 years before the day the Home Office receives your application
  • You have successfully passed the Life in the UK Test
  • You speak English at a minimum B1 Level as identified by the Common European Framework of Languages, unless you are age 65 or over
  • You must meet the ‘good character’ requirements

 
Having invested at least £2,000,000 into British companies and the economy over the years, there are many political, social, economic, and practical benefits of becoming a UK citizen. You may want to apply for British citizenship due to these benefits, or simply because the UK is your home.

 

Investor Visa FAQs

How much do I need to invest to get permanent residence in the UK?

You will need to invest a minimum of £2,000,000 into UK companies over 5 years to obtain permanent residence in the UK. You may be able to obtain permanent residence in an accelerated period of 3 years if you invest a minimum of £5,000,000 or an accelerated period of 5 years if you invest a minimum of £10,000,000.

What is the UK Investor Visa?

The UK Investor Visa is a visa category that provides a route to permanent residency for high-net-worth individuals who are able and willing to invest at least £2,000,000 into British companies and the economy. You must be prepared to place all relevant investment funds in a regulated UK bank account for easy access and financial compliance purposes.

How can I get an investment-based visa for the UK?

You can get an investment-based visa for the UK by having at least £2,000,000 in freely accessible funds to invest in UK companies. You or your spouse/partner can be the owner of these funds, or they can be co-owned in several bank accounts in the UK or abroad. You must be able to provide extensive financial documentation related to the provenance of these funds and be willing to house all investment monies in a regulated UK bank account.

Can I get a UK visa if I buy a house in the UK?

You cannot obtain a UK visa of any category solely by buying a house in the UK. You will need to be eligible for and be successfully granted a UK visa from a broad range of immigration routes to live in the UK. The Investor Visa allows individuals willing to invest at least £2,000,000 to live in the UK.

 

Legal disclaimer


The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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