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Switching From A Tier 4 Student Visa To A Tier 1 Investor Visa

While the Tier 4 student Visa is an excellent option for moving to the UK to study, it can become extremely limited after you’ve finished. Fortunately, the Tier 1 Investor Visa route offers a fantastic next step for Tier 4 Student Visa holders who have significant funds available to invest into British businesses. In this article, we're going to look at the options for Tier 4 Student Visa holders looking at the Tier 1 Investor Visa route as a way to stay in the UK long after their studies have come to an end.

Can You Switch From A Tier 4 Student Visa To A Tier 1 Investor Visa?

Yes, the Tier 1 Investor Visa is one of the few visas a Tier 4 Student Visa holder can actually switch to. This is due to the large amount of investment funds required to use the visa route. Having significant investment funds obviously benefits the British economy, which is why the visa switch is offered in the first place.

In recent years, the options for Tier 4 Student Visa holders have become very limited in the UK. This seems mostly to do with the number of people who overstay their student visa and the ruling Conservative party trying to reduce immigration from outside of the EU. The current rules are designed as a way to ensure only students with financial backing will be able to settle into the UK after their studies.

How Much Investment Funds Are Required For The Tier 1 Investor Visa?

The Tier 1 Investor Visa route has a minimum entry barrier of £2m of investible capital. At this entry point, visa holders will be able to live in the UK for an initial period of 3 years. At the end of this 3 year period, you will be able to extend your visa. To do this, you will need to have met certain investment requirements such as investing your money within 3 months of your investment start date. It is important you abide by these rules, otherwise you will not be granted an extension.

If you have more investment capital, you will be able to gain further benefits like the ability to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain earlier than the normal 5 years. If, for instance, you have £5m to invest, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after just 3 years. This means you will not need to extend your visa and can settle at the end of your initial period. If you have £10m, you can settle after just two years. In all of these scenarios, you will need to ensure you meet the investment requirements as laid out in the visa guidance to ensure compliance. Any failure to comply could result in the loss of your visa.

What Is A Qualifying Investment?

Under the Tier 1 Investor Visa route, there are explicit instructions on investments that qualify to be used to satisfy the requirements of the visa. For instance, you cannot use property investment to achieve this. You must invest your funds in an active and registered UK business. This can be in the form of shares or loan capital. Previously, you were able to invest in government bonds, but this option has since been removed.

As well as ensuring that your investment is placed with an appropriate business, you will also need to ensure you do not withdraw these funds during your stay. If, for instance, you have an investment portfolio, you can buy and sell shares as long as you do not withdraw capital from your account. Your initial investment must remain invested for the duration of your visa. You can, of course, change this after settling in the UK. There are very specific rules regarding your investments on a Tier 1 Investor Visa, and it is important to understand these before making your application.

Can You Gain Indefinite Leave To Remain After Switching From A Tier 4 Student Visa To A Tier 1 Investor Visa?

Yes, you can.

It is important you understand that the level of investment capital you have can dramatically affect your ability to settle in the UK. You can settle by using any of the investment levels, but this is tiered according to your investment capital. For instance, you can settle after 5 years (initial period plus extension) if you have £2m to invest, 3 years if you have £5m to invest and just 2 years of you have over £10m to invest.

One other point to be aware of is you cannot use your time spent in the UK on your Tier 4 Student Visa as part of your 5 years required to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This is because the Tier 4 Student Visa itself cannot be used to settle in the UK. Your 5 year period will start once you have switched to the Tier 1 Investor Visa. You can, of course, cut down the time required to settle if you can meet the higher investment tiers, otherwise you will need to wait until you have been in the UK on a Tier 1 Investor Visa for 5 years before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Where Can I Get More Help?

If you need help switching to the Tier 1 Investor Visa then please get in touch with one our solicitors. Our team of specialist immigration solicitors can help you by guiding you through the entire process.

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