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Investor visa: what are the best options for high net migrants in the UK?

06 January 2011

High net worth individuals have the option to make an application under three very different categories of the Tier 1 Scheme depending on their individual circumstances and their priorities when deciding to relocate and settle in the UK.

The most straightforward option is to apply as a Tier 1 General holder showing that in the 12 months preceding the application they have earned a gross income above £150K. However, to qualify in this category an applicant will also need to meet the English language requirement and the maintenance requirement.

However, it is important to bear in mind that the Tier 1 General scheme will be removed for in country applicants on 5 April 2011. On 23  December 2010, the UK Border Agency  stopped accepting entry clearance applications (from outside the UK) made under the Tier 1 General Scheme.

A second option is to invest £200000 in a  UK business in order to apply for leave to enter and remain under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur. This option will be discussed in more details in a follow up article. However, we wish to focus today on the third option: the Tier 1 Investor category under paragraph 245O of the Immigration Rules.

In order to qualify, an applicant will need to show that they can claim 75 points under Appendix A. However, the prospective investor will not need to meet the English language or the maintenance requirement.  Unlike it predecessor, simply referred to as “Investor”, there are no restrictions on taking up employment except as doctor or dentist in training. Please note that while the Tier 1 General category allows to accumulate time spent in different immigration categories, it is only possible to aggregate time spent under  the previous investor category to the Tier 1 Investor in order to qualify for settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain.

An applicant can score 75 points under Appendix A by either:

  • showing that he has money of his own, under his control, held in a regulated financial institution and disposable in the UK amounting to no less that £1 million or;
  • that he owns personal assets, of at least £2 million when taking into account any liabilities AND that he has money under his control held in a financially regulated institution and disposable in the UK amounting to no less that £1 million which has been loaned to him by a financial institution regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). In this second case scenario, an applicant is not allowed to mix personal funds with the funds loaned to him by a FSA’s regulated institution.

The applicant will need to invest £750K in UK Government bonds or share/loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies within three months of the specified date.

It is important to note that the money does not have to be held in the UK, but can be held overseas although it will be converted in GBP at the time of submission. Further, it can be jointly or solely owned by the applicant’s spouse, civil or unmarried partner as long as the applicant has an unrestricted right to transfer or disposal of the money. The applicant will need to provide evidence of the funds and the source of the funds unless they have been held in a  bank account or in a portfolio managed by institution regulated by the FSA  or the home regulator.

If the investor is relying on his personal net asset exceeding £2 million and £1 millions pounds loaned to him by a  financial institution regulated by the FSA, he will need to provide a letter confirming all these details. To calculate the applicant’s net worth, assets such as personal cash, investments and property will be offset against personal debts such as mortgages or other personal loans.

Once the application is approved the Tier 1 Investor will be granted  3 years.  In order to apply for an extension, an applicant will need to show that he has invested £750K within the first 13 weeks  from the specified date. Further this investment will need to be maintained at that level for the 5 years period. If the valued of the investments were to fall due to fluctuations in shares process, it must be corrected by the next reporting period.

The Tier 1 Investor visa leads to settlement, but the good news is that the UK Border Agency is planning to offer an accelerated route to settlement, depending on the level of investment.

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Migra & Co is a private immigration company, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), reference number F200900038. This website is not a government website and as such, we are not linked or affiliated with the UK Visas and Immigration. We offer expert legal advice and flexible tailored solutions to both private and corporate clients to ensure that their immigration needs are met. If you wish to download or prepare a UK visa application form, you can do so free of charge by visiting the Official UKVI website.