One of the little recognised benefits of the Tier 1 investor visa is the amount of time which applicants are permitted to spend outside the UK without compromising their right to apply for permanent settlement.
Tier 1 investor visas are available to anyone prepared to invest in excess of £2 million to approved UK investments. The initial visa allows for three years and four months leave to enter (or three years leave to remain if applicants are switching from another category of applicant). This builds towards qualification for indefinite leave to remain after five years.
For anyone investing £5 million that timescale concerning the right to apply for residency is reduced to three years, whilst the period is cut to just two years for anyone investing £10 million, although this does not affect the statuary five-year period for naturalisation.
Common across each of these tiers is the right to spend up to 180 days per year outside the UK. Given the likely complexity of such applicants’ business and investment affairs this is seen as a practical and realistic component to the Tier 1 investment package. Since the rationale behind these schemes is effectively to out-compete rival jurisdictions for high net worth individuals, the 180-day allowance represents a conspicuous benefit for those contemplating such a move.
The Migration Advisory Committee which proposed the raising of the qualifying investment from £1 million to £2 million in November 2014 was explicit in acknowledging the economic benefits to the UK economy that might accrue from such migrants aside from their initial deposit - what they called their indirect financial contribution. It goes without saying that such migrants can only make such an indirect financial contribution to the UK economy if they are spending their money in the UK. The 180-day residency exemption necessarily qualifies the MAC’s assessment.
Government immigration figures show that Tier 1 Investors visa grants reached 2,074 in the 12 months to the end of June 2014. In some contrast, the first two quarters of 2015 saw the number of successful applications reduced to just 434 (including families and dependents).