Tier 1 investor visas – wealthy individuals from outside Europe are looking to obtain British Citizenship will find a very attractive route in the Tier 1 Investor Visa. The more money invested, the quicker the route to settlement*. The UK, in particular, London, has always attracted high-net-worth people. As one of the most important economic cities in the world, London offers excellent investment opportunities, a stable government, stunning homes, culture and sporting opportunities plus some of the best schools and universities globally.
Obtaining British citizenship by investment appeals to individuals and their families from all corners of the world and the British government welcomes and values the contributions that high-net-worth investors make to economic growth.
The requirements of a Tier 1 Investor Visa
The UK citizenship by investment program has strict criteria; which includes the following:
- The applicant must have a minimum of £2 million available to invest and prove the funds belong to them, their spouse or their partner and are held in a regulated financial institution for 90 consecutive days prior to the date of application.
- If the money is not held in pound sterling the value of the funds must equal no less than £2 million when converted. To evidence the availability of the funds, the applicant will be required to provide a specifically worded bank letter from each financial institution. Where the funds have not been held for 90 days, evidence of the source of these funds will need to be provided.
- The applicant must open an account within a UK regulated bank and provide a bank letter to evidence this.
- The investment must be made in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies
- The Tier 1 investor migrant and any dependents over the age of 18 must provide a criminal record check. This must be issued from every country in which the migrant has lived for 12 consecutive months or more in the ten years prior to the date of application.
*providing all other ILR criteria are met
There is no requirement that the applicant or their family speak English (although this will be required when you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain). The investor migrant and their dependents will be able to seek employment in Britain once the visa is granted, although there are some limitations to this.
Where the Tier 1 investor migrant adheres to the conditions of their visa, they, as well as their family members, will be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain in five years. However, the more money invested, the faster the process. An investment of £5 million may provide settlement after three years; £10 million could get you Indefinite Leave to Remain in two years.
To qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you cannot have been outside the UK for more than 180 days during each consecutive year of the qualifying five, three or two-year period. If you have been outside of the United Kingdom for more than 180 days in 12 months, this will break the continuous period and you will need to start the qualifying period for settlement again. If this happens, you may need to obtain a further grant of limited leave to remain, to reach the required continuous period in the United Kingdom.
In rare cases, the Home Office may use their discretion where there have been compelling circumstances outside of the applicant’s control that have resulted in excessive absences from the UK.
You and your family can apply for settlement at the same time. All of you will need to meet the continuous period in the United Kingdom requirement set out above, pass the Life in the UK Test and meet the English language requirements.
Managing your investment portfolio for extension and settlement
An experienced immigration solicitor, in collaboration with your wealth manager/investment advisor, will help to ensure that your investment portfolio is managed in accordance with Home Office requirements. This will ensure that you and your family can extend your leave, and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship once you are eligible.
Extending your Investor Visa
A Tier 1 Investor Visa is initially granted for 3 years and 4 months, a term that covers you and your dependents. Prior to the expiry of this visa, you must apply for an extension of two years.
Depending on the type of investments made, either in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies, the type of evidence required to prove your investments have met Home Office criteria for a Tier 1 Investor Visa will differ.
For example where the applicant has invested in UK government bonds he or she will need to provide the Home Office with a series of investment portfolio reports, certified by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority. These reports need to include the following details:
- where the £2 million was invested
- the value and/or purchase price of the investments
- the date your portfolio was certified by the financial institution
- the dates the investments were made
- confirmation that the investments were made in your name and/or that of your spouse or partner and not in the name of an offshore company or trust, even if this is wholly owned by you
- the name and address of the financial institution that certified your investment portfolio and that the institution is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority.
The reports will also need to state that the financial institution will confirm the content of the reports on request and confirm that your investments have been maintained.
If the value of your investment portfolio falls short of the required £2 million through the selling of all or part of the portfolio, the gross proceeds of the sale must be re-invested in qualifying investments before the end of the next reporting period, or within six months of the date of completion of the sale, whichever is the earliest.
You will not have to top up the value of your portfolio if the market value of your investment falls during the qualifying period.
These requirements apply to Tier 1 Investor Visa holders and their dependents who were granted entry to the UK on or after 6th November 2014. Different rules apply to Investor Visas granted before that date.
Applying for British Citizenship
Once you have gained Indefinite Leave to Remain, you and your family may be able to apply for British Citizenship after 12 months. To qualify for British Citizenship, you must:
- be over 18 years (a parent can apply on behalf of a child)
- be of good character, i.e. you do not have a criminal record, links to terrorist or criminal organisations and have not committed any immigration offences in the past 10 years
- be intent on living in the UK
- pass the Life in the UK Test and meet the language requirements
- have spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years
- have spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
Note that there are wider discretions for absences with British Citizenship applications than there are for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
How Saracens Solicitors can assist Tier 1 Investor Visa applicants and holders
Having assisted many high-net-worth individuals with their Tier 1 Investor Visa applications, compliance with Home Office requirements and subsequent British Citizenship submission, our partner led immigration law department understands the needs of those moving to the UK as investors.
With this in mind, we are able to make the necessary introductions to UK banks and can assist you with opening a UK bank account whilst abroad. We also very well connected with many wealth managers and financial advisors who in collaboration with our team, will ensure your portfolio is set-up and maintained to meet the requirements for extension and settlement.
Our London-based team can also introduce you to estate agents specialising in luxury properties, advise you on accessing private and/or public healthcare and organise assistance to find a school for your children and furnish your new family home. We also have a team specialising in luxury assets law who can ensure any valuable pieces of art, furniture and/or your cars arrive safely in the country.
Our team has worked with investors from all over the world; in particular, the Middle East, Russia, China and America. Many of our lawyers are multi-lingual To find out more about how our legal team can assist you, please call our London office on 020 3588 3500.
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