UK Tier 1 Investor Visa, Explained

The UK Investor Visa allows entrepreneurs to set up shop in the United Kingdom and start their own businesses, bringing their skills and talents to the table. Here’s everything you need to know about the UK Investor Visa, including how to apply, what it takes to qualify, and much more.

UK Tier 1 Investor Visa, Explained

Within the United Kingdom, there are multiple routes you can take if you want to become an investor. The UK Investor Visa program offers a streamlined path toward permanent residency and citizenship, as well as ample opportunity to invest in businesses and real estate. To qualify, you must have £2 million available and be able to prove that you have £1 million in assets, not including your primary residence, or have £200,000 in cash and investments.

As part of an ongoing effort to build economic partnerships with other countries, the UK offers visas specifically geared toward investors and business people from other countries who wish to invest in or run businesses in the United Kingdom. If you’re interested in starting or growing your business in the UK, then this visa could be of interest to you. Here’s what you need to know about the UK Investor Visa and how to apply for it.

In the UK, there are several different types of investor visas that you can apply for based on your individual needs and goals. A UK investor visa lets you apply to live in the UK if you can show you have sufficient capital to invest in property in the UK, or if you can invest in government bonds or share capital in active and trading UK companies (also known as an entrepreneur visa). The UK investor visa, also known as the Tier 1 (Investor) visa, allows those with at least £1 million in disposable funds to apply for citizenship in the United Kingdom (UK).

These funds must be legally obtained, and applicants cannot have any criminal record or be considered a threat to UK national security. To apply for this visa and eventually become a citizen of the UK, you must meet all eligibility requirements set by the government and prove that you have enough money to support yourself financially. If your application is successful, this will allow you to live in the UK for at least 2 years and possibly longer, so long as you continue making the investment and filing tax returns every year.

What are Tier 1 Investor visas?

Tier 1 Investor visa is one of the UK business visas, part of the UK Points Based System offered to wealthy individuals to enter and live in the UK providing that they invest at least £2 million into active and trading UK businesses. The higher the amount of money invested, the quicker you can apply for settlement and eventually British citizenship.

The Tier 1 Investor Visa is a high-value migration route, this means that you are not required to have a job offer before you can apply for an Investor Visa and your application will not need to be sponsored. The application is almost entirely based on your ability to invest the required amount within the first three months of your visa being granted. 

The Tier 1 (Investment) Visa is the UK’s version of the Golden Visa, in the sense that it offers residency to individuals who make substantial investments in the British economy. However, the minimum qualifying investment for a Tier 1 visa is higher – starting from £2 million – and investment in real estate (i.e. buying a house) does not qualify. However, the Investor Visa for the UK is not a direct citizenship-by-investment program, like in many other countries. This means that you actually have to live in the UK before you can apply to become a citizen.

With the Tier 1 Investor Visa you can live in the UK for up to 3 years and 4 months, if you wish to remain living in the United Kingdom after this time you can also apply for an extension of your Investor Visa for a further 2 years. Additionally, you cannot renew the UK Investment visa or apply for permanent residency or citizenship without actually living in the UK for the majority of the year. Tier 1 Investor visa holders and their immediate family (spouse and children under the age of 18) are allowed to live in the UK, however, they are not required to work, study or undertake business activities here, nor do they need to pass any English language tests or satisfy the maintenance requirements associated with many other visa categories.

One of the benefits of the Tier 1 Investor visa category is that holder of this visa (and their family members) will have access to the UK’s education system. In addition, the Tier 1 Investor category provides a pathway toward British Citizenship after a period of 6 years provided the required criteria are satisfied.

Tier 1 Investor Visa Requirements

You will need to meet the following requirements below to qualify for a Tier 1 investor visa:

  • At least £2 million of your own money, available for immediate dispersal in the UK, and currently held in a regulated financial institution
  • Have opened an account with a UK-regulated bank for the purposes of investing not less than £2 million in the UK. Applicants must have a UK-regulated investment bank account before making their initial application.
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • You have a clean criminal record.
  • Be able to prove that the £2 million in investment funds belongs to either you or your husband, wife, unmarried, or same-sex partner

How to Apply for a Tier 1 Investor Visa

You must apply for a Tier 1 Investor Visa online via the Visas and Immigration website of the UK Government. When completing an application, it is imperative that you send the correct documents to support your submission. Failure to do so can result in your application being immediately refused, wasting precious time. The application process is as follows: 

  1. You have to apply for a UK Investment Visa
  2. Complete the online application form.
  3. Provide the required documents.
  4. Pay the visa fee.
  5. Pay the health surcharge.
  6. Once you submit the application online, you must locate the nearest UK visa application center to submit your biometric information and fingerprints, as well as any other required documents
  7. Once your application is received, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may invite you to submit your biometric details.  This may be done at a Visa Application Centre based in your country.
  8. As soon as the biometric details are received, your full application will be considered. Decisions are usually received within three weeks.
  9. Wait for the visa application to be processed. This usually takes up to three weeks.
    Once the visa application is processed, you can collect your biometric residence permit.

Documentation Requirements for a Tier 1 Investor Visa

To apply for a UK investor's visa, you will need to submit several documents as a part of the application process. The UK immigration authorities will make a decision based on these documents, and the online application form. Meanwhile, the required documents for UK Tier 1 investor visa are as follows:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • a criminal record certificate from any country you have stayed in for a total of 12 months or more over the last 10 years
  • investment portfolio reports produced by a UK-regulated financial institution that shows you’ve met the investment eligibility requirements and maintained your investments for the full length of your visa
  • moreover, you need a blank page in your passport for your visa.
  • you will also need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.

UK Tier 1 Investor Visa Fees

For each person, you’ll need to pay:

  • £1,638 to extend this visa
  • the healthcare surcharge - check how much you’ll have to pay via the link below
  • If you want to get a decision more quickly than the standard 8 weeks, you can pay an extra £500 for the priority service to get a decision within 5 working days.

UK Tier 1 Investor Visa Application Processing Times

A decision will usually be made:

  • within 8 weeks of your application date if you use the standard service
  • within 5 working days of your UKVCAS appointment if you use the priority service

Once you’ve got your decision letter, your biometric residence permit will take up to 10 working days to arrive.

You’ll be contacted if your application is complicated and will take longer, for example, because:

  • your supporting documents need to be verified
  • you need to attend an interview
  • of your personal circumstances, for example, if you have a criminal conviction

Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.

How to Extend Your Tier Investor Visa

You may be able to extend your Tier 1 (Investor) visa for 2 years. Your family members (‘dependents’) will need to apply separately to extend their visas. They can either apply at the same time as you, or at any time before their current visa expires. However, you should apply before your current visa expires.

Final Thoughts

The UK is home to some of Europe’s most attractive cities and landscapes. As an investor, you might be able to obtain a residence permit by purchasing a considerable amount of real estate in an area (or areas) of high demand. To apply for a UK investor visa, it’s first necessary to identify which category is best suited for your needs and goals. Category 1 allows applicants to invest £2 million or more in the UK economy through government bonds, stocks, shares, or business assets. Category 2 is designed for those with investments over £1 million but less than £2 million and has been designed specifically for companies that are looking to expand into the United Kingdom. Category 3 will allow foreign investors who are residents outside the European Economic Area to make investments of up to £10 million.

Unless you have expert knowledge of UK legislation and financial matters, you will need legal help to settle your investment. To get assistance with the required paperwork and procedures for getting a Golden visa for the UK, it is advisable to hire legal representatives that specialize in these matters. Visit the official UK immigration authority's website via the link below for more information.