What is a Tier 1 Investor Visa
By Teni Shahiean, Principal Solicitor
The UK Tier 1 Investor Visa is designed to encourage investment and economic growth in the UK. Here at OTS Solicitors our business immigration team assist both individuals and businesses clients to take full advantage of opportunities to invest in the UK by providing our clients with the best bespoke and individually tailored service for Tier 1 Investor Visa applicants.
The UK is a popular destination for high net worth individuals, and the requirements are relatively straightforward in order to encourage the positive benefits these visa holders bring. However, our business immigration team which consists of Legal 500 recommended solicitors with over 30 years of combined experience, have identify the common difficulties with Tier 1 investor Applications. It has been their aim to set out the requirements and the likely difficulties to these applications in this helpful article to all those applying for an Tier 1 (investor) Visa in the UK.
Requirements and Eligibility Criteria
Regardless of whether the applicant is outside the UK or has an existing visa and wants to switch, he or she must have at least £2 million available to be invested in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies. The £2 million cannot be invested in companies mainly engaged in property investment, property management or property development. The investment funds must belong either to the applicant or his or her spouse or unmarried or same-sex partner, and this must be proved in terms of the amount of money and where it is held. The source of the funds must be provided if they have been held for less than three months. The funds must be disposable, held in a regulated financial institution and UK bank account must have been opened. A fee of £1500.00 for the applicant and each dependent must be paid, as well as the NHS Immigration healthcare surcharge.
Applying from Outside the UK
This visa can be applied for from outside the UK if the applicant is a non-EEA or Switzerland national. This visa must be applied for within three months of the planned date of travel to the UK. Upon arrival, the funds must be invested in qualifying investments within three months. After 2 years, if £10 million has been invested, the visa holder may apply to settle and thereby obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), or after 3 years if £15 million is invested they may also settle and receive ILR. Otherwise the visa holder will be entitled to remain for up to 3 years and 4 months. The visa can be extended for up to 2 years. If the initial £2-million investment is maintained for five years, and as long as the visa holder doesn’t leave the UK for more than six months of the year, permanent residence can be applied for.
Applying while on another Visa
If applying from within the UK to switch into this category, the Tier 1 (investor) visa must be applied for before the current visa expires. If the applicant currently falls into one of the following categories, he or she can apply to switch:
- Tier 1 (General), Tier 1 (entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Post-study work), any Tier 2 category, any Tier 4 category, Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, businessperson, Innovator, student (under the rules in place before 31 March 2009), student re-sitting an examination, student nurse, students writing up a thesis, work permit holder, writer, composer or artist, investor.
Applicants who currently fall into other categories must leave the UK and reapply. The Points Based System applies to these applications, and sufficient points must be scored on investment funds. If the application is successful, the bearer is entitled to stay in the UK for up to a further three years.
What You Need to Know
- It must be proved that certain requirements have been met. Evidence must be provided that the requisite funds are held in regulated financial institutions in the UK. If the funds have not been in the bank accounts for three months, evidence must be provided as to why. An applicant needs to plan for moving the funds into a suitable account or finding evidence of where money has flowed from and to. This is because under normal circumstances it may be unusual for high net-worth individuals to hold large sums of money static in bank accounts or investments may have been moved around a lot and difficult to trace.
- When the funds are transferred to a wealth manager in the UK for investment, the requirements as to qualifying investments need to be adhered to also. This includes that the funds must be invested within 90 days and statements of all transactions must be provided. A competent wealth manager will ensure this time limit is met, and that wise investments are made, including that UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital are invested in and not property-related investments.
- The changes of 6th April 2015 mean that if the total value of investments made in the UK drops through selling investments at a loss, there is no longer a requirement to “top up” the investment to equal its initial value. However, capital itself cannot be withdrawn and gross proceeds from any investment must be reinvested in a qualifying investment before the end of the next reporting period or six months from the investment’s date of disposal. Reinvestment must be within the UK. Investors will also need to bring enough capital into the UK to cover charges resulting from the investments and taxes.
- Biometric Residence Permits will be gradually issued to non-EEA national visa applicants. If at the time of application this scheme has been rolled out the visa holder will also need to collect his or her Biometric Residence Permit (BMP) within 10 days of arriving in the UK, or his or her visa may be cancelled.
The investor category is a simple way for investors and their families to come and live in the UK, but working with a reputable investment firm is important. This will ensure that all of the legal requirements are met, and common mistakes are avoided.
To find out more about investment visas or our legal services, please contact us on 0207 936 9962 or fill in our contact form online and we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.
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