UK Tier 1 Investor Visa: Top 35 FAQ’s Answered
The UK Tier 1 Investor visa category is for individuals who are able to make a substantial financial investment in the UK. In order to qualify for a UK Investor visa you will need to have access to at least £2 million and be willing to invest your funds in actively trading UK companies. In this post we answer the top 35 questions that our clients most frequently ask us about the UK Tier 1 Investor visa route.
This post is intended to provide general guidance on the Tier 1 Investor visa route only. You may wish to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert legal advice.
1. Can I apply for a Tier 1 Investor visa by relying on funds that are not in pounds sterling?
If your investment funds are held in a foreign currency, their value will be converted to pounds sterling using the spot exchange rate which appears on www.oanda.com on the date of your Tier 1 Investor visa application.
2. Do I need to move my funds to the UK before applying for a Tier 1 Investor visa?
You can rely on funds that are held in an overseas financial institution, provided the funds are freely transferable to the United Kingdom and the financial institution holding the funds is willing to confirm this in writing.
3. Can I apply for a UK Investor visa by relying on funds that have been gifted to me by a third party?
Legal ownership of the funds will need to have been irrevocably transferred to you and you will need to provide the supporting documents specified by the Immigration Rules.
4. What other sources of funds are permitted for an Investor visa application?
Investment funds can originate from any legal source, provided relevant documentation can be provided as evidence of the source of the money, together with independent supporting evidence.
5. Can I apply for a Tier 1 Investor visa by relying on funds belonging, individually or jointly, to my spouse, civil partner or unmarried or same-sex partner?
When you apply for an Investor visa you will need to demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and subsisting and that the funds are under your control and you are free to invest them.
6. Do I need to have held my investment funds for at least 2 years?
If you have held your investment funds for less than 2 years then you can still qualify for a UK Investor visa if you can provide specified evidence of the source of your funds.
7. Do I need to prove the source of my funds if I have held the funds for at least 2 years?
The Immigration Rules for Investors do not require any mandatory evidence of the source of funds where the funds have been held for at least 2 years. However, the Home Office does have power to refuse an application for a Tier 1 Investor visa if it is not satisfied that the funds were lawfully obtained. We strongly advise all UK Investor visa applicants to provide evidence to establish the provenance of their funds.
8. Can I apply for a Tier 1 Investor visa relying on funds that I have already invested in the UK?
You can qualify for a Tier 1 Investor visa by relying on funds that you invested in the UK during the 12 months before the date of application.
9. Do I need a UK bank account to qualify for a UK Investor visa?
You will need to have opened an account with an FCA-regulated financial institution for the purpose of investing at least £2 million in the UK.
10. Can Richmond Chambers assist me to open a UK bank account?
We work closely with some of the UK’s leading investment managers and private bankers. Our strategic partners within the financial services sector regularly open UK bank accounts for our Tier 1 Investor visa clients.
11. What are my investment options as an Investor visa holder?
You will need to invest at least £2 million in share capital and/or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.
12. Can I invest in UK government bonds?
Since 29 March 2019, UK government bonds are no longer a Tier 1 qualifying investment. Tier 1 Investor visa holders can still invest in UK government bonds, but any such investment must be made outside the Tier 1 Investor visa scheme.
13. Are there any other restrictions on investments for UK Investor visa holders?
The Immigration Rules for Tier 1 Investors contain various restrictions on permitted investments. For example, investments in offshore companies or trusts, open-ended investment companies and companies mainly engaged in property investment, property management or property development are all prohibited.
14. Does this mean that all investments into property-related companies are prohibited?
No. The Home Office will look to see how the UK business derives its revenue. Business income must be generated from the supply of goods and/or services and not derived from the increased value of property or any income generated through property, such as rent. Investments into companies mainly engaged in construction or hotels, for example, would be permitted.
15. As a Tier 1 Investor visa holder, can I invest in a UK start-up business?
Tier 1 Investors are required to invest in active and trading UK registered companies. This means that at the date of the investment the company must be registered with Companies House in the UK, registered with HM Revenue and Customs for corporation tax and PAYE, have accounts and a UK business bank account, both showing regular trading of its own goods or services and have at least two UK based employees who are not its directors.
16. How long will I have to make my investment?
You will need to invest at least £2 million in actively trading UK companies within 90 days of entering the Tier 1 Investor category.
17. Is there any flexibility in the 90 day requirement?
The Home Office has a discretion to waive the 90 day requirement where there are compelling reasons for a delay in investing. The reasons would need to be unforeseeable, outside of your control and, where possible, reasonable steps must have been taken to mitigate the delay. Delays caused by failing to take timely action will not be accepted.
18. What happens if the value of my investment drops below £2 million?
Market fluctuations in the value of your investment will not impact on your ability to demonstrate that you have maintained a particular level of investment throughout your period of leave.
19. Can I sell any of the funds once I have invested?
Where any part of the qualifying investments is sold (whether at a gain or at a loss) during a period leave as a Tier 1 Investor, the gross proceeds must be re-invested in qualifying investments before the end of the next reporting period, or within six months of the date of completion of the sale, whichever is sooner.
20. Can I withdraw interest and dividends?
Tier 1 Investors may withdraw interest accrued and dividends declared after the date on which they purchased their qualifying investments.
21. Can I settle any fees, transaction costs or tax liability from the invested funds?
Fees, for example those charged by institutions for managing a Tier 1 Investor portfolio, and transaction costs and tax incurred through buying and selling investments cannot be paid for from investment funds relied on to score points but can be paid from any surplus investment.
22. Does the Tier 1 Investor visa lead to settlement in the UK?
If you invest at least £2 million into permitted investments and maintain your investment, you may be eligible for settlement under the Tier 1 Investor route once you have resided in the UK as a Tier 1 Investor for a continuous period of 5 years. There are also accelerated routes to settlement.
23. What are the requirements for accelerated settlement as a Tier 1 Investor?
Tier 1 Investor visa holders may apply for accelerated settlement after a continuous period of either 2 years (if they have maintained an investment of at least £10 million) or 3 years (if they have maintained an investment of at least £5 million).
24. Can I increase my investment amount and qualify for accelerated settlement once I am in the UK?
Yes. You will need to provide evidence of holding the additional funds for a 2 year period before investing, or provide evidence of the source of those additional funds. You will only be able to include time from up to 3 months before your investment was increased to £5 million or £10 million towards your accelerated continuous period.
25. Can a Tier 1 Investor bring family members to the UK?
Tier 1 Investors may bring, or be joined by, their spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner and any children under the age of 18. Investors cannot bring their parents, siblings or other extended family members.
26. Can my dependants qualify for accelerated settlement?
No. Dependants must reside in the UK for a continuous 5 year period in order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain.
27. What is the residence requirement for indefinite leave to remain as a Tier 1 Investor?
You will need to have not spent more than 180 days outside the UK during any rolling 12 month period during the relevant continuous 2, 3 or 5 year period.
28. How is the 180 day residence requirement calculated?
The Home Office will look at all the rolling 12 month periods during the continuous residence period relied on, counting back from the date of application for indefinite leave to remain. Travel days, on which you spend part of the day in the UK and part of the day outside the UK, will not be counted.
29. Does the 180 day residence requirement apply to dependants?
Your spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner will need to satisfy the 180 day residence requirement in order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain. Children under the age of 18 do not need to satisfy a residence requirement.
30. Do I need to be able to speak English?
There is no English language requirement for an initial or extension Tier 1 Investor application. However, unless aged 65 or over, you will need to demonstrate competence in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 before you apply for settlement. You will also need to take and pass the Life in the UK test, which is in English.
31. Can I withdraw my investment funds once I have been granted indefinite leave to remain as a Tier 1 Investor?
You may liquidate your investments and withdraw your investment funds from the UK, in whole or in part, once you have been granted indefinite leave to remain.
32. Does the Tier 1 Investor visa lead to British citizenship and a British passport?
You can apply to naturalise as a British citizen once you have held indefinite leave to remain (ILR) for a 12 month period (or upon being granted ILR if married to a British citizen). You will need to be of good character and satisfy a more stringent residence requirement.
33. When should I apply for a Tier 1 Investor visa?
You should make an application for a Tier 1 Investor visa not more than 3 months before you intend to travel to the UK.
34. Can I switch into the Tier 1 Investor from within the UK?
You can switch into the Tier 1 Investor visa category from within the UK if you have, or were last granted, entry clearance, leave to enter or remain as a Highly Skilled Migrant, Tier 1 (General) Migrant, Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, Tier 1 (Investor) Migrant, Tier 2 Migrant, Skilled Worker, Tier 4 (General) Student (subject to conditions), Student or as a Tier 4 (Child) Student or Child Student.
35. What documents do I need to provide in support of my Tier 1 Investor visa application?
The Immigration Rules contain strict requirements in terms of the documents that must be submitted in support of a Tier 1 Investor visa application, as well as the content and format of these documents. Our immigration barristers can advise in detail as to the required documents, and check all documents for compliance with the Immigration Rules, as part of our visa application preparation and submission service.
Contact our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance regarding an application for a Tier 1 Investor visa, contact our business immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.