UK immigration routes for international investors
The UK introduced an immigration route for foreign investors in 1994. In 2008, the government established the Tier 1 Investor and Tier 1 Entrepreneur routes, as part of a new points-based system. More than 10 years later, in 2019, the Entrepreneur visa was stopped, but new routes were introduced, such as the Innovator and the Start-Up visas.
All these immigration routes can lead to the acquisition of Indefinite Leave to Remain and, ultimately, British Citizenship. In this guide, we explain all you need to know about the requirements international investors need to meet before they can seek UK citizenship.
Tier 1 Investor Visa eligibility requirements
Applicants who seek entrance in the UK as foreign investors must intend to invest at least £2,000,000 in the UK. Besides, they must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Be over the age of 18
- Be able to prove that the money belongs to either them or their partner
- Have opened an account at a UK regulated bank
What are the differences between Investor and Innovator visas?
Although both visas are under the Tier 1 category, the initial investment required from investors is significantly higher. Besides, there are a few aspects of both routes that applicants should consider carefully before submitting their application:
- Investors can work and study while in the country. Innovators, however, can only work in the company in which they have invested.
- Investors do not need to meet the English language requirement.
- Investors can apply for settlement in the UK after 2 years.
- Investors always have full control over their investment funds and might be able to recover them.
Getting British Citizenship by investment
There are two routes which can lead to UK citizenship by investment.
UK Settlement options on a Tier 1 investor visa
Depending on the amount of their investment, Tier 1 Investor Visa holders can apply to settle in the UK after the following periods of continuous residence:
- £10,000,000 to settle in 2 years
- £5,000,000 to settle in 3 years
- £2,000,000 to settle in 5 years
Under the current immigration rules, continuous residence is defined as being out of the UK for no longer than 180 days in any 12 months.
Funds must be held in your bank account for at least two years to prove their availability. In addition, the UK financial institution where your investment account is open is required to periodically conduct diligence checks.
British Citizenship for international innovators
Once your business idea has been endorsed, and you have set up your business in the UK, you can live in the UK as the director of your own company. Nevertheless, to be eligible for this visa, you must have access to £50,000 and present an idea that is viable, innovative and scalable.
Your Innovator Visa will be first granted for 3 years and four months, and it will be subject to an unlimited number of extensions.
If you meet additional requirements, you can apply for settlement after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK.