UK: Immigration To The UK For Investors

Last Updated: 30 October 2012
Article by Alastair Collett

The UK has encouraged investors and talented individuals to come and live, invest and work in the UK for many generations and London is a leading global centre in which to live and do business.

Detailed rules for immigration to the UK have been changed significantly in recent years but importantly London remains open to those with wealth and talent through a number of immigration programmes.

This note explains the requirements of the Tier 1 Investor Scheme.

In summary the scheme allows those with available funds for investment in the UK of not less than £1 million to enter the UK as investors in a category that can lead to indefinite leave to remain (settled status) normally after five years but earlier for those who invest significantly more funds in the UK.

Financial Requirements

To qualify in the Tier 1 Investor category an individual, in addition to satisfying the general rules and requirements for entry to the UK, must:

  • have money of his/her own under their control held in a regulated financial institution and disposable in the UK amounting to no less than £1 million; or
  • 1. own personal assets which, taking into account any liabilities to which they are subject, have a value exceeding £2 million; and

    2. have money under his/her control in the UK amounting to no less than £1 million, which may include money loaned to him/her provided that it was loaned by a financial institution regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

The majority of funds available for investment must be invested in the UK in a specified way:

  • the applicant invests not less than £750,000 of his/her capital in the UK by way of UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies (other than those principally engaged in property investment and excluding investment by the applicant by way of deposits with a bank, building society or other enterprise whose normal course of business includes the acceptance of deposits, or through offshore vehicles);
  • the investment needs to have been made within 3 months of the date of either the application approval or entry into the UK and also needs to be maintained throughout the period of permission to remain. Funds invested in the UK more than 12 months before an application will not be eligible to be taken into account.

One of the features of the investor category is that it does not require specific evidence of ability to speak English or the usual requirement to evidence means of maintenance on initial application.

The permission granted will normally be for three years and four months with an extension available for a further two years, provided that the investments have been maintained. After five years (or earlier as noted below) it is possible to apply for settled status. At this stage the normal requirement to pass a Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK test will be required of Investors.

Investors who wish to obtain settled status faster than the normal five year period can consider investing larger sums of £5 million or £10 million to secure a route to settled status after three years or two years.

To maintain status as an Investor it is necessary to have absences of no more than 180 days per year outside the UK.

Detailed requirements re proof of wealth

There are alternative methods of qualification depending on whether funds are provided directly or by way of loan but each requires particular, detailed evidence to be produced of wealth. The particular requirements depend upon the source and current location of the funds and the detailed evidence required (such as bank statements, investment portfolio statements or company accounts) varies depending upon what funds are being used/evidenced. We can advise on these requirements in the light of the facts in an individual case.

Process for application

An application should be made in the normal country of residence.

The applicant and any family will need to apply in person and have biometric details collected in the form of fingerscans and photos. The adults may have to attend an interview.

With the application forms for entry as an investor they will need to produce:

  • current passports (valid for at least six months) and passports issued within the last ten years
  • a schedule of previous travel to the UK (if any);
  • marriage certificate and birth certificates;
  • passport style photos;
  • the financial evidence;
  • the fee payable in local currency.

British Citizenship

British citizenship is available by naturalisation once:

  • an applicant has been resident in the UK for at least five years; and
  • upon at least one year of this period being with settled status.

In applying for citizenship, however, there are strict rules about absences from the UK and normally an applicant should not be outside the UK for more than 90 days in the last 12 months before application or have averaged more than 90 days per year away from the UK during the five-year period.

At present a £1 million investor will be eligible to apply after six years residence whilst those investing £5 million or £10 million can apply after five years.

Other immigration categories

We can provide advice on other immigration categories available to individuals such as those for entrepreneurs, graduate entrepreneurs and those endorsed as having exceptional talent as well as giving advice to businesses looking to set up or to hire international staff to work in the UK.

UK tax issues

Any person considering becoming resident in the UK under the Investor Scheme should also look then to arranging their affairs in the most tax efficient way possible to take advantage of the tax rules available to non-UK domiciled but UK resident individuals. Further advice can be provided based on individual circumstances and requirements.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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