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Who Can Apply for a UK investor visa (Tier 1)?

As we slowly emerge from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is predicted that the UK will experience strong economic growth in 2022 and beyond. According to the OECD, for the UK, “Strong GDP growth of 7.2% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022 is projected as a large share of the population is vaccinated and restrictions to economic activity are progressively eased. Growth is driven by a rebound of consumption, notably of services. GDP is expected to return to its pre-pandemic level in early 2022”. Other business groups have been more bullish in their projections, with the CBI stating they expect GDP growth to be in the order of 8.2% in 2021 and 6.1% in 2022. They also believe that our GDP will be back to pre-pandemic levels by December 2021, and the unemployment peak will be lower than had been expected. The UK also remains highly attractive to overseas investors, more so than most of Europe. According to accounting firm EY, “A forthcoming EY survey of 109 investors… focused on Europe, found that the UK is seen as the second most attractive European destination for foreign investment in 2021, with 40% of respondents describing it as among the ‘most attractive’ countries – slightly behind the 43% opting for Germany and ahead of the 39% backing France”. If you are planning to join the many investors planning to come to the UK in 2022, you will need to apply for an investor visa before you can do so. In this article, we will explain who can apply for a UK investor visa (Tier 1) and the benefits of doing so.

Applying for a UK investor visa?

The UK investor visa is pitched at foreign investors with substantial amounts of investment funds. As an applicant for a UK investor visa, you must:

  • have money of your own, under your control, held in a regulated financial institution, and which is disposable in the UK, amounting to not less than £2 million – this may be held by yourself, your partner or both of you jointly
  • have opened an account with a UK regulated bank for the purposes of investing not less than £2 million in the UK.

The rules state that where an application for a UK investor visa has not held their investment funds for at least two years, they must provide evidence of its source. The Home Office guidance states, “If you have not held the funds for two years consecutively before the date of the application, you must also provide evidence of the source of the funds. We will contact the source of these documents to confirm the information as necessary”. The following can be used as potential sources of investment funds:

  • gifts;
  • deeds of sale;
  • evidence from a business;
  • Will;
  • divorce settlement; or
  • award or winning

What are the benefits of a UK investor visa?

As a UK investor visa holder, in addition to investing, you will also be able to work or study. One of the main benefits of the investor visa is that it is possible to secure permanent residence in the UK faster than with other immigration routes. For most eligible visas, it is possible to secure indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after five years, but with the investor visa, this can be achieved after just two years. This depends on the amount of money invested, as follows:

  • settlement after two years if you invest £10 million
  • settlement after three years if you invest £5 million
  • settlement after five years if you invest £2 million

Note – there are some minor exceptions to the right to work condition which applies to a small minority of investors; specifically, if you are planning to work as a doctor or dentist in training, you must have a degree at bachelors’ level or above in medicine or dentistry from a UK institution or have worked as a doctor or dentist in training the last time you were in the UK. It is also not possible to work in the UK as a professional sportsperson or sports coach if you hold an investor visa.

Can I bring my family members with me to the UK on an investor visa?

Yes, dependant family members can apply & join the main investor visa holder in the UK. This includes the wife, spouse, or partner of the investor visa holder and their dependant children. Dependant children must be under 18 years and not live an independent life (i.e., be financially independent, live away from their parents unless in a boarding school or married). The rules also state that all family members are required to provide a criminal record certificate for any country in which they have resided for at least 12 months in the last ten years.

How long does it take to receive a UK investor visa?

If you are applying for your UK investor visa from outside the UK, you can expect a decision within three weeks. It is also possible to pay an extra £500 for the priority service to have your application processed within five working days. Dependant family applications made separately can take up to eight weeks, however, it is possible to have a decision made on the following working day by paying £800 for the super-priority service.

To ensure your application and those of your family members are processed in the shortest time possible, it is essential that you provide all the information and evidence required. If any documents or information is missing (or incorrect), this will add to the time taken to reach a final decision.

Final words

Where possible, seek the guidance of immigration Solicitors who can handle your application for you and your family members. This will maximise your chance of receiving a positive and timely decision, remove the burden from your shoulders, and allow you to focus on other matters.

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