The Tier 1 Investor Visa is one of Britain’s greats. It allows investors from all over the world to come to the United Kingdom and invest great sums of money into British businesses, which in turn betters the economy. With foreign investments injecting money, companies are able to expand, increase wages for their employees (which in turn leads to more consumer spending) and carry out research to find better and more efficient ways to produce and/ or provide services to its clients. It allows for the United Kingdom’s infrastructure to be maintained and improved. For the most part, an all round win-win situation.

Of course, the visa is not open to European Economic Area (EEA) nationals as there is no need for them to obtain a visa to remain in the UK. That is not to say that Europeans cannot invest in the UK, they just don’t need a visa to do so if they want to live here. This is a point of clarification also based on on calls we have received raising this question, particularly in light of the upcoming EU Referendum and Brexit.

If you want to invest at least £2,000,000, that’s £2 million, in the UK, the Tier 1 Investor is the visa for you. There are a number of other eligibility requirements that one has to meet before an application is approved.

You must have access to at least £2,000,000 in investment funds to apply.

How long does it take?

The Tier 1 Investor Visa can be applied for up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK and normally you will get a decision on the outcome of your application within 3 weeks. If your country of origin offers a priority service, you may get a decision sooner if you pay the fee for this service.

How much will it cost?

The standard fee for the Tier 1 Investor Visa is £1,500 for the main applicant and an additional £1,500 for each dependent you wish to include in your application. The fee remains the same if you extend your visa or switch to the Tier 1 Investor visa whilst in the United Kingdom.

As with all other relevant applications, you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.

One benefit that Tier 1 Investors have is the option to apply [to switch] or extend their visa in person. This is known as the super premium service, and attracts a hefty fee of £7,000, plus application fees for each person. However, the application fees skip up to £1,900 for each person when using this service. The up side is the service can be used by up to 4 main applicants and a maximum of 10 people. So that’s 4 main applicants and a total of 6 dependants between them.

So if a number of you are planning to extend your application in the UK around the same time, it makes sense to split the £7,000 fee between you and get a decision super quick! If 4 applicants apply at once, they each will pay £1,750 (plus their application fees).

How long can you stay?

With the Tier 1 Investor visa you will be granted a maximum stay of 3 years and 4 months. Once in the UK and having met the further requirements you will be able to apply to extend for a further 2 years.

When can you settle?

Now this is where it gets interesting. If you invest the minimum of £2 million you will be able to settle after 5 years, in line with most other UK immigration categories. However, there are quicker ways to get to settlement with the Tier 1 Investor visa.

If you invest £5 million, you will be eligible for settlement after 3 years in the UK. Even better still, if you invest £10 million you can apply to settle after 2 years. For some people that is a deal breaker. If you have the money and want the settlement as soon as possible, this is the best way to go about it. There is no longer any other visa category that will get you settlement in this short space of time.

Are you eligible?

Can you demonstrate the following?

  • At least £2,000,000 investment funds
  • You are 18 or over
  • That the money belongs to either you or your husband, wife, unmarried or same-sex partner
  • That you have opened a UK bank account

It is imperative that you are able to show that your funds are held in at least one regulated financial institution and that you have access to them and are fee to spend it in the UK.

Fortunately, your money does not have to physically be in the UK when you submit your application. It can be held overseas.

What are the restrictions?

The most prominent restriction and probably the one that catches most people out is that you are not permitted to invest in companies whose main focus is on property management, property development or property investment.

You are not allowed to work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. If that is something you feel would be more suitable, take a look at our previous article on the Tier 2 Sportsperson Category.

As a standard you are not allowed to work as a doctor or dentist in training unless you are able to meet one of the few exceptions set out by the Home Office. Contact us for more information if this applies to you.

Lastly, it is plainly obvious but still worth a mention – neither you nor your dependents are permitted access to United Kingdom public funds. We are thinking if you have £2 million to invest, you certainly will not need any support from the government for living expenses.

However you are allowed to work (within the limits set out above) and study whilst in the United Kingdom.

Students

If you fall into one of the following categories and are already in the UK, you may be able to apply for a Tier 1 Investor visa:

  • a Tier 4 (General)
  • a student nurse
  • studying, writing up a thesis or re-sitting an exam
  • a postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • an overseas qualified nurse or midwife
  • a student sabbatical officer