The UK Investment Visa is a Tier 1 visa, part of the UK Points Based System, offered to wealthy individuals willing to invest a minimum of £2 million in the UK. The higher the amount of money invested, the quicker you can apply for settlement and eventually British citizenship.
However, the Investment Visa for the UK is not a direct citizenship-by-investment program, like in many other countries. This means that you actually have to live in the UK before you can apply to become a citizen.
Is a UK Investor Visa a Golden Visa?
The Tier 1 (Investment) Visa is the UK’s version of the Golden Visa, in the sense that it offers residency to individuals who make substantial investments in the British economy. However, the minimum qualifying investment for a Tier 1 visa is higher – starting from £2 million – and investment in real estate (i.e. buying a house) does not qualify.
Additionally, you cannot renew the UK Investment visa or apply for permanent residency or citizenship without actually living in the UK for the majority of the year.
UK Investor Visa Benefits
The benefits of the UK Investor Visa are:
- You can live, work, study, and do business in the UK.
- You can bring your close family members with you.
- You will enjoy the benefits of living in one of the biggest economies in the world.
- You enjoy the benefits of one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
- You and your family can eventually become British citizens, which would allow you to travel visa-free to more than 100 countries.
Who Can Apply for a UK Investor Visa?
You can apply for the UK Investor Visa if you invest at least £2 million into the British economy and you fulfil the following eligibility requirements:
- You are over the age of 18.
- You have a clean criminal record.
- You can prove that the money you wish to invest belongs to you, or your spouse/partner.
- You are not from an EEA country or from Switzerland.
- You have opened a bank account in the UK to use for your funds. The bank must be a “regulated financial institution”.
- Your money must be disposable in the UK (free to spend).
Residency Requirements for UK Investor Visa
Unlike most countries which issue residency by investment visas, in the UK, you have to actually spend time in the country if you wish to renew the visa or apply for permanent residency.
UK Investment Visa Options
To qualify for a UK Investment Visa, you must invest at least £2 million* in one of the following options:
- An active and trading UK registered company. This means that the company must be:
- Registered in the UK (or at least have a registered office in the UK)
- Actively trading – not dormant or non-trading.
- Have a UK bank account which shows recent transactions and payment of taxes.
- UK Corporate bonds, by way of share capital or loan capital.
- Investment in Government Bonds is no longer a viable option, as of March 29, 2019.
*The amount of investment is decisive on when you receive permanent residence (Indefinite Leave to Remain):
- If you invest £2 million, you can get ILR after five years.
- If you invest £5 million, you can get ILR after three years.
- If you invest £10 million, you can get ILR after two years.
Required Documents for a Tier 1 UK Investor Visa
To apply for a UK Investor’s Visa you will need to submit several documents as a part of your application process. Based in these documents, and the online application form, the UK authorities will take a decision on your application.
The required documents for a UK Tier 1 Investor Visa are as follows:
- Valid Travel Document. Your passport must have at least one blank page in order to be able to put the visa sticker on it.
- Tuberculosis test results. Check if you are required to take a tuberculosis test, since only the nationals of certain countries do.
- A criminal record certificate. You should obtain this document from any country you have stayed in for at least 12 months, over the last 10 years.
- Evidence that you have the required funds. You will also need to submit proof where that money came from, and if it can be transferred to the UK and converted to sterling.
- If the money is provided by your partner you should submit the following as well:
- A certificate of marriage or civil partnership, as applicable.
- A confirmation from your partner that they will allow you to control the funds in the UK.
- A letter from a legal adviser stating that the statement is valid.
- Evidence you have a UK bank account. This document should be dated within three months of your application. It should be on the headed paper of the bank and state your name and account number. It must confirm that the bank is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and that the checks for money-laundering have been carried out.
- Certified translations of all documents that aren’t in either English or Welsh.
You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.
When to Apply for a UK Investor Visa?
The earliest that you can file an application for a UK visa for investment is three months prior to your intended trip to the UK. Yet the latest you are advised to file an application is three weeks before this day since this is the amount of time necessary for visa processing.
How to Apply for a UK Investor Visa?
You have to apply for a UK Investment Visa via the Visas and Immigration website of the UK Government. The application process is as follows:
- Complete the online application form.
- Provide the required documents.
- Pay the visa fee.
- Pay the health surcharge.
- Once you submit the application online, you must locate the nearest UK visa application centre to submit your biometric information and fingerprints, as well as any other required documents.
- Wait for the visa application to be processed. This usually takes up to three weeks.
- Once the visa application is processed, you can collect your biometric residence permit.
Online Application Form for a UK Investor Visa
As explained above, before you start any other procedure to apply for an Investor Visa, you should complete the application form.
The application form for a UK Investor Visa contains questions regarding:
- Your name & surname.
- Your date and place of birth.
- Parents, their names, date and place of birth and nationality.
- If you have traveled to the UK before.
- If you have traveled anywhere in the world before.
- The purpose of your trip to the UK.
- The visa type you are applying for.
- Whether you are meeting the requirements, etc.
Can I Switch to an Investor Visa if I Am Already in the UK?
Yes, if you are in the UK with one of the following visas, you can switch it into a Tier 1 Investment Visa before your current visa expires, provided you fulfil the requirements:
- Tier 1 (General)
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
- Any Tier 2 Visa
- Tier 4 (General Student)
If you have any other visa, you have to leave the UK and apply via the regular method.
UK Investor Visa Fees
The Investor Visa application fee is £1,623. When applying to extend your Investor Visa you will also need to pay the same fee again. There are no exceptions.
UK Investor Visa Processing
The UK authorities take up to three weeks to process a UK Innovator Visa (Tier 1) application.
How Long Is the UK Investor Visa Valid?
A UK Investor Visa is valid for up to 3 years and 4 months. When your visa is about to expire, you can apply to extend it for another 2 years. After five years of residency, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
If you invested £5 million, you can apply for ILR after three years of residency, whereas if you invested £10 million, you can apply for ILR after only two years.
UK Citizenship by Investment
Since the UK investor visa makes way for settlement in the UK, it is also known as UK Citizenship by Investment.
To get a UK Citizenship by Investment you first need to get a settlement permit in the UK, You can do so after a particular period in the UK with an Investor visa. This period depends on the amount of money that you invest, as follows:
- You can apply to settle in the UK after 2 years if you invest £10 million.
- You can apply to settle in the UK after 3 years if you invest £5 million.
- You can apply to settle in the UK after 5 years if you invest £2 million.
After 12 months in the UK with a settlement permit, you are eligible to apply for UK Citizenship by Investment. You will need to pay a fee of £1,330 in order to apply.
Can I Get UK Citizenship by Investment?
Yes, an Investment Visa for the UK can lead to British citizenship – a few years down the line. After receiving the Investor Visa, you have to maintain your investment and you and your family members have to live in the UK continuously to qualify for citizenship.
To be eligible for a British passport, you must:
- Live in the UK for at least six years.
- During the five years before applying, you must have been in the UK 75% of the time. In other words, the time you spent outside the country must not be longer than 450 days out of five years.
- In the year before the citizenship application, you cannot have been out of the country for longer than 90 days total.
- You must not have broken any British laws.
- You must be of good moral character.
- You must have knowledge of the UK culture and knowledge of either English, Scottish, or Welsh language.
Can My Family Join Me With a UK Investor Visa?
Yes, your family members can join you in the UK if you receive an Investor Visa. dependent family members include:
- Your spouse or your partner.
- Your minor child (under 18).
- Adult children if they are dependent or if they are already in the UK with you (i.e. they reached adulthood while living in the UK).
They have to apply online via the Visas and Immigration website of the UK Government and have a clear criminal record from all the places they have lived in (adult family members only).
Can I Work in the UK with an Investor Visa?
Yes, if you have a UK Investment Visa, you can work and study in the UK as well. The same applies to your dependent family members.
You cannot work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. You also cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless you have a degree from a UK institution or have worked in the UK previously in those positions.