The streets of London are paved with gold, according to old tales, but even in these times, people from around the world are drawn to the city to make their fortunes.
Around 18 million visitors flock to London every year and in the year to March 2021 669,000 were granted visas to work, study or join their families.
Out of those, a select band of just 216 high net worth individuals were granted a much-coveted Tier 1 Investor Visa while making a substantial financial investment in Britain.
With a Tier 1 Investor Visa comes with some special privileges:
- You need not speak English
- You can work but probably don’t have to
- You don’t have to show you have money to support yourself and your family
- Your family may join you but must make their own visa applications
- The door is opened for fast-tracked permission to stay permanently in the UK
If you’re looking at coming to the UK on a golden Tier 1 Investor visa, read on to find out if you qualify and how to apply.
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How The Tier 1 Investor Visa Works
If you are coming to Britain from overseas, you can apply for the Tier 1 Investor visa if you can show:
- You can show you have £2 million available to invest in the UK
- You meet the scheme’s eligibility requirements
Some wealthy individuals from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland can sidestep the Tier 1 visa and apply to stay in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme if they were living in Britain before January 1, 2021.
Irish nationals can settle in the UK with a visa or permission under the EU Settlement Scheme.
You can apply for the Tier 1 Investor Visa up to three months before you travel.
For example, if you intend to come to the UK on September 15, 2021, you cannot apply for your visa before June 15, 2021.
Allow 21 days for a decision from the UK authorities. If you need a faster decision, you can pay for a super priority service (next day decision) or priority service (decision within five days).
Who can apply for a Tier 1 Investor Visa?
Applying for a Tier 1 Investor Visa is open to a select few who have at least £2 million or the equivalent in foreign currency in the bank.
The money must be held personally and free from any third-party calls.
Besides that, you must show:
- You are at least 18 years old
- You can prove the money is yours or belongs to your spouse or partner
- You have a UK bank account open and ready to accept the funds if they are held overseas
Students with financial sponsorship can apply for the visa if already in the UK and hold a student (including Tier 4) visa.
They must have a letter from the sponsor that includes an unconditional agreement to re-enter or stay in the UK if course fees and living costs are paid by a government or international scholarship agency.
How long can you stay in the UK?
The Tier 1 Investor Visa lasts between six months and 40 months, with an extension of up to 24 months.
What does the Tier 1 Visa allow?
You can come to the UK to:
- Work or study
- Apply to stay after two years if investing £10 million
- Apply to stay after three years if investing £5 million
- Apply to stay after five years if investing £2 million
- Work as a professional sportsman or woman or coach
- Apply for benefits
- Work as a doctor or dentist in training unless certain conditions apply
Applying For A Tier 1 Investor Visa
You must complete your visa application online from outside the UK.
Don’t forget to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a UK visa application centre, otherwise you cannot get a biometric residence permit.
If you are already in the UK, you can apply online to extend or switch from another visa to the Tier 1 Investor Visa.
You also need to go through a checklist: of supporting documents to go with your application, including:
- A current passport or other travel ID. The passport should have a blank page for inserting the visa
- A tuberculosis test result if you live in a listed country
- A criminal record check from countries you have lived in for more than a year during the past 10 years
You should provide a certified translation of any of these documents that are not in English or Welsh.
Alongside your personal information, you should also have documents proving your £2 million or more funding is yours and available to invest.
This means showing:
- Which bank holds the funds and how much is on deposit
- If you have held the money for fewer than two years, you should explain how you came by the funding, for instance an inheritance
- The money is free to transfer to a UK bank in Sterling if the funds are overseas
If the money belongs to a spouse or partner, you also need a lawyer to confirm in writing that:
- Your marriage certificate or proof you have had a relationship for at least two years are valid
- Your spouse or partner will hand control of the funds to you when you come to Britain
Lastly, you must show you have opened an account to manage your funding with a UK regulated bank. A list of the 1,500 or so banks that qualify is here.
To do this, the bank will provide a letter which:
- Is on official headed paper
- Is signed by an authorised official
- Is Issued within three months of your visa application date
- Shows your name and account details
- Confirms the account was opened to invest at least £2,000,000
- Confirms the financial conduct authority regulates the bank
- Confirms money-laundering checks are complete
How Much Does a Tier 1 Investor Visa Cost?
Every applicant pays the healthcare surcharge towards future treatment on the National Health Service. The amount depends on how long the visa lasts. For example, a 12 month visa surcharge is £470 for a student or someone under 18, but £1,410 for a three-year visa.
All fees are chargeable on application.
|Tier 1 Investor Visa application||£1,623|
|Healthcare surcharge||£470 – £624 a year|
|Super priority service decision||£800|
|Priority service decision||£500|
|Biometric information (fingerprints and a photo)||£19.20|
Bringing Your Family to the UK
If you have a Tier 1 Investor Visa you dependant family can join you in Britain but will need their own visas.
The European Union Settlement Scheme may offer a better right to live in the UK if they were in the UK before January 1, 2021 and come from the EEA or Switzerland.
Your dependant family are:
- Your spouse or, if unmarried, your partner
- Children under 18
- Children aged over 18 already in the UK and listed as your dependants
Adults – those aged 18 or more in the UK – must provide a criminal record check from any country where they have lived for more than a year in the previous 10 years.
Dependants living outside the UK
Your dependants living outside the UK are under 18, they must apply for their Tier 1 Investor Visa online.
Over 18s cannot apply from outside the UK but can apply for a visa if they are already in the country and listed as your dependant.
If you are switching visas or extending a Tier 1 Investor Visa, you can include your dependants in your online application
Your family may not apply in the UK as your dependant if they are on a visitor visa.
Children born while you’re in the UK
If you have children while you’re in the UK, you can apply online to add them to your visa as a dependant.
You must provide a full UK birth certificate for each child, which shows the names of both parents.
Extending A Tier 1 Investor Visa
If you are in the UK on a Tier 1 Investor Visa and want to stay once the visa expires, you can apply for an extension.
Applying for an extension covers anyone on the original visa – including children who have turned 18 years old while living in the UK.
Don’t wait until the visa runs out to apply for an extension. Allow at least a month for the application to go through.
Tier 1 Investor Visa Investment Tests
If you are applying to extend your visa, the investment tests differ depending on the date of your original application.
Visas granted before November 6, 2014
You must show:
- At least £1 million is under your control in the UK
- £750,000 or 75% of the balance for larger deposits is invested in UK gilts (government bonds), shares or loans to UK companies
- The money was invested within three months of the date your visa started
- The money belongs to you or your partner
- The money is borrowed from a UK bank, but you still have personal assets worth more than £2 million
Visas granted from November 6, 2014
You must show:
- At least £2 million is under your control in the UK
- The money is invested in shares or loans to UK companies
- The money was invested within three months of the date your visa started
- The £2 million came from your funds or those of your partner
Visas granted before March 29, 2019
The visa terms allow you to invest the money in UK gilts.
How to prove your investment
You can prove your investment was made within three months of your visa start date with investment reports from a UK bank.
The visa start date is when you entered the UK or the date your Tier 1 Investor Visa or switch to the visa was granted.
Switching to a Tier 1 Investor Visa
Some visas allow the holders to upgrade to a Tier 1 Investor Visa, providing the application is made at least a month before their current visa runs out.
Applications are accepted from holders with these visas:
- Tier 1 (General)
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
- Any Tier 2 visa
- Anyone holding a student visa
Other holders must leave the UK and apply for a Tier 1 Investor Visa from overseas.
Tier 1 Investor Visa Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the frequently asked questions regarding the Tier 1 Investor Visa. Always seek professional advice when investing.
I have held my funds for more than two years in cash – does this count?
No. They must be held in a regulated bank account to show money laundering checks have been carried out. Once they are in a bank, you must show evidence of the source if you apply for the Tier 1 Investor Visa within two years of the deposit.
Do UK gilt investments count under Tier 1 Investor Visa rules?
Investments in UK gilts (government bonds) only count if they were made before March 29, 2019.
After that, the investment is considered outside and in addition to the Tier 1 Investor Visa requirement to invest at least £2 million in shares or loans to UK companies.
That means you can invest in gilts, but the amount is not added into the £2 million or more portfolio needed to make a Tier 1 Investor Visa application.
Do property investments count in my Tier 1 Investor portfolio?
Investing is not allowed in companies mainly trading in property management, investment or development.
What happens if my investment falls below £2 million?
It’s inevitable your investment will rise and fall in line with how the economy and stock markets perform and the visa terms recognise this will happen.
Can I still take dividends and interest from my investments?
Yes. Once you have made the investment, any income such as dividends or interest earned can be taken, but that cannot relate to a date that precedes the visa start date.
Which family members can come to the UK with a Tier 1 investor?
Only spouses, long-term partners and children under 18 can join someone with a Tier 1 Investor Visa in the UK.
Further related information and articles can be found following the links below
Have any Questions?
Speak to a financial adviser.