A 2022 Guide to British Citizenship Through Investing in the UK
With the closure of the UK investor route to new applicants in February 2022, you may think that you can no longer apply for British citizenship through investing in the UK. That is not the case. In this guide, our immigration solicitors look at how investors and entrepreneurs can acquire British citizenship by investing in the UK.
UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors
The end of the golden visa – not yet
The fast-track investor route, referred to as the golden visa, closed to new applications on 17 February 2022. However, there are investor visa holders, and their dependents, in the UK with valid entry clearance and immigration status because their visas were not curtailed when the investor route was closed by the UK government. These investor visa holders can either apply to extend their current investor visas or, if they meet the relevant residence requirement and the indefinite leave to remain eligibility criteria, they can apply for indefinite leave to remain. Once they have held ILR status for 12 months, they can go on to apply for British citizenship if they meet the naturalisation eligibility criteria.
Extending an investor visa
If you have an existing investor visa you can apply to extend it by up to 2 years if you meet the following criteria:
- You have at least £2 million of funds under your control in the UK
- The £2 million of funds are invested in either share capital or loan capital in actively trading UK companies in accordance with the detailed immigration rules on investments
- The investment of the £2 million was made within 3 months of your arrival in the UK on the investor visa (unless you switched to an investor visa from a different visa route in which case the switching application date is the important date)
If you have dependant family members living with you on dependant visas, they can also apply for a 2-year extension to their dependant visas.
If you are considering making an application to extend an investor visa it is best to get immigration law advice on whether you meet the eligibility criteria for indefinite leave to remain or your visa switch options. If you do not meet the indefinite leave to remain eligibility criteria it is important to understand the rules so that you will be eligible on the expiry of your extended investor visa.
Settling in the UK on an investor visa
There are 2 sets of rules for applying for indefinite leave to remain on a Tier 1 investor visa, depending on whether you applied for your first investor visa on or after 6 November 2014 or before that date.
If you successfully applied for your first investor visa on or after 6 November 2014 the length of the ILR residence requirement depends on the amount of your investment into the UK. The more you invested the quicker you will get your indefinite leave to remain status and be able to go on to apply for British citizenship (if that is your end goal).
The cash investment and residence requirement rules for investor visa ILR applications on or after 6 November 2014 are:
|£2 million||5 years|
|£5 million||3 years|
|£10 million||2 years|
The investment figure must not include UK government bonds if you first applied for your investor visa on or after 29 March 2019.
In addition to your investments needing to meet all the strict investment criteria in the Home Office Tier 1 investor visa guidance you also need to meet the other ILR eligibility criteria, such as:
- Meet the residence requirement rules on absences from the UK during your qualifying residence period of 2, 3, or 5 years. You must have spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months in the qualifying residence period. For investor visa to ILR applicants their extended absences from the UK can be problematic if they have not planned long family or business engagements around the ILR residence requirement rules
- Pass the life in the UK test unless you are exempt from sitting the test on age or health grounds
Alternatives to the investor visa to settle in the UK through investment
If you are not already in the UK on an investor visa the route to accelerated settlement on the ‘golden visa’ is closed to you because, whatever your nationality or immigration history, new applications were stopped by the UK government on 17 February 2022.
Despite the closure of the investor route, the various Home Secretaries in post since February 2022 have been keen to emphasise that the UK wants to attract the brightest and best to its shores and wants entrepreneurs to come to and invest in the UK.
Our business immigration solicitors advise that there are several alternatives to the investor visa to secure settlement in the UK through investment and business activity. The routes include:
- The innovator visa
- The global talent visa
- The scale-up visa
- The skilled worker visa
The only route that requires investment funds is the innovator visa where visa applicants need a minimum of £50,000 to invest in their proposed business. The investor visa is intended for experienced entrepreneurs who can quickly scale up their businesses. For less experienced entrepreneurs, there is the option of applying for a start-up visa. Whilst the visa is not a direct route to indefinite leave to remain, a start-up visa holder can apply to switch to the innovator visa once they are nearing the end of their start-up visa and if they meet the innovator visa eligibility criteria.
Although there are alternatives to the investor visa all the routes require you to set up a business that is innovative and scalable or to work in the UK in a skilled job. Having cash and relying solely on your financial advisors for immigration rule-compliant investment advice is no longer sufficient unless you already hold an investor visa.
UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors