For high net worth individuals, the Tier 1 investor Visa is a great pathway into the United Kingdom. The visa requirements are simple. You need to invest a minimum of £2,000,000 in the UK. The investment can be into UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies (with some exceptions.)
The visa allows you to live, work and/or study in the UK for 3 years and 4 months and is renewable for an additional 2 years. You can apply to settle after 2 years (for investments of over £10,000,000) or 3 years (for investments of over £5,000,000). Visa processing and delivery times are rapid and there were over 1,000 Tier 1 visas issued between January and September 2018.
Potential Changes to the Tier 1 Investor Programme
This visa class is being actively reviewed by the Foreign Office and by the UK Government and there may be changes announced as early as March 2019. There has been a lot of coverage with news reports that it could be discontinued completely. Subsequent reports are that the visa will not be discontinued, but will be reformed, although exactly what this will entail is not clear at present. There is a recognition of the value that the applicants bring to the UK while there is concern that the investment capital must have a clear and ethical providence.
If you are interested in this visa class, we advise you to act sooner rather than later. We have a partnership with a well-respected firm in London who are currently assisting many applicants with their investments and visa applications. If you are interested in their excellent advice, please click here.
An Insiders Perspective on the Tier 1 Investor Visa
Below we interview our partner in London to hopefully answer some of the questions you may have:
WCIL: What is the benefit of this visa over other residency by investment visas?
Simply put, Britain is Great! If you wish to be in the UK and can afford to invest £2m for a minimum of 5 years plus meet the fitness objectives; this is a way to migrate to the UK. No matter what your interest, you will most likely find it here from the arts to education to the latest tech companies. Just don’t expect nice weather, on the bright side this allows you to have a bigger wardrobe!
WCIL: What are the most popular investments for applicants of this visa class?
The UK Tier 1 (Investor) visa specifies qualifying investments as UK Government bonds, share or loan capital of active trading companies. A diversified portfolio is key, but we understand that everyone’s requirements are different. Given current market conditions we see high level of interest in UK government bonds. Unlike other global investor categories, the UK attracts the discerning ultra-high net worth individuals who are mostly looking to preserve capital rather than try to double their money on bitcoin overnight.
WCIL: Are many people applying for this visa and what is the success rate from your perspective?
As above it attracts the few who have the funds. In numbers, they average around circa 200 to 350 main applicants a year. That’s it. Quality over quantity! The latest statistics I have checked show a less than 5% refusal rate. In the future, this will be higher due to the complexity and specialism of investing and reporting for Investor visa purposes. Over the years the immigration rules have become complex due to abuse. This is not a do it yourself route. Most banks and wealth managers have an expertise in investing but do not have a focus and a specialist department for investor visas.
WCIL: Where do most of the investors come from?
Today it is China, 7 years ago Russia & CIS, prior to that the Middle East dominated.
WCIL: How long does an average application currently take to be processed?
Once you have all your papers completed, VIP appointments are available at short notice. You should get a response on the same day or following day.
WCIL: The Tier 1 Investor Visa has got a lot of press recently due to the threat of suspension. Do you think that there is a possibility of suspension?
No. It will be reformed but we have seen a previous threat of suspension fail. In the UK, there is a process which must be followed according to the law. If significant threat is detected, then it could be suspended.
WCIL: What reforms are needed surrounding this visa?
Globally, abuse always take place. There should be sufficient checks in place to prevent abuse from happening. This is a good question, as we are currently about to embark on a consultation with migration policy. Britain is open and must remain so, but we will not tolerate abuse nor funds obtained illegally.
WCIL: What do you advise to anyone interested in the Tier 1 visa considering the impending reforms?
Better to go through the known than the unknown. We have experienced a rush of applicants who have brought their plans forward, and are applying now before the reforms come in.
WCIL: What has the impact of Brexit been on this visa type?
It has been great! Before the referendum we saw many use Malta or Cyprus’ citizenship by investment programs to gain access to the UK via EU treaty rights. Organisations such as Transparency International and even the European Council have questioned the due diligence these applicants have to go through. If Brexit is successful, this loophole will no longer be viable.
WCIL: Do you have any other advice or comments for interested clients?
Find the experts, build trust, and find out how Great Britain is for yourself.
If you would like to speak to our partner about your investments and the Tier 1 visa, please click here.
Related Blog: Read another Insiders Perspective, this time on the Portugal Golden Visa