As a key economic powerhouse, life in the United Kingdom is pretty sweet for global citizens invested in starting new lives. Prime living conditions, an excellent job market, as well as world-class universities attract investors worldwide to the UK’s shores. UK Citizenship by Investment — also referred to as the Tier 1 Investor Visa — is the primary route foreign investors can take to obtaining settlement in Britain, with a fast-track pathway to British citizenship possible.
In this UK Investor Visa, you’ll learn about the following:
- What the investor visa is
- Investment requirements for the UK visa
- Step-by-step guide to becoming a UK citizen
- Plus more!
What is UK Citizenship By Investment?
The UK government runs its own version of a ‘UK Golden Visa’ (or citizenship by investment) inviting high net worth investors to obtain residence in the UK — with eventual citizenship possible — in exchange for an investment in the nation’s economic prosperity.
The immigration rules are as follows; Applicants must invest a lump sum of money and maintain the respective investment during their permanent residence in the UK to qualify for the UK visa. Specifically, you have to invest in active and trading UK-registered companies to acquire permanent residence. While there are many citizenship by investment programs out there governed by various immigration laws, few countries have such a robust economic system and prime living standards as the United Kingdom.
Why the United Kingdom Citizenship By Investment?
The United Kingdom is strategically involved in the European markets, the United States, and Hong Kong. Boasting excellent state and private schools, a flourishing business infrastructure, and ample job opportunities, life in the United Kingdom is highly sought after by expats and high net worth individuals alike.
While the immigration rules to obtaining British residency are comprehensive, successful investors can find themselves living in the UK and enjoying unparalleled freedoms.
Financial Requirements for the UK Investor Visa
You must make a qualifying investment in the capital by way of share capital or loan capital in active UK-based companies to qualify for settlement in the UK. Note, the following requirements need to be met, with differing timelines to acquiring residency depending on the minimum investment amount.
Tier 1 Investor Visa (Citizenship By Investment)
The Tier 1 investment visa has the following investment routes, with Indefinite Leave to Remain granted depending on the investment sum.
£2,000,000 to settle in 5 years
£5,000,000 to settle in 3 years
£10,000,000 to settle in 2 years
An investment of at least £2,000,000 enables the investor to count on the UK permanent residency after five years of residing in the UK. An investment of at least £5,000,000 enables the investor to apply for permanent residency after three years of residing in the UK. An investment of at least £10,000,000 enables the investor to seek permanent residency after two years of residing in the UK.
The investment funds must sit in your nominated bank account for two years, or alternatively, you can provide evidence that you have the necessary funds in your visa application. Note that certain UK financial institutions will require additional due diligence checks on all investors, to ensure that the source of investment funds is legitimate. The initial investor visa is granted for three years and four months, and the Tier 1 investment visa can be extended for an additional two-year period, provided that the investment is kept.
NOTE: If you invested before 29 March 2019 and your portfolio incorporates government bonds, you must apply for settlement not later than 6 April 2025.
More About Tier 1 Investor Visa
The Tier 1 Investor Visa is the fastest way to get UK citizenship by investment 2022.
|The cost of visa
|Visa period of validity
|3 years and 4 months; if applied in the UK - 3 years
|After 5 years
|For 2+ years
|Expedited permanent residence
|Investments from £10,000,000 - after 2 years;
Investments from £5,000,000 - after 3 years.
|English language knowledge
The UK Tier 1 Investor Visa is a residency by investment program that allows high-net-worth non-EU investors who make a significant financial investment in the United Kingdom to buy UK citizenship and reside in the country.
British consulates in foreign nations handle visa applications for up to three weeks. If you apply in the United Kingdom, the deadline will be extended to eight weeks. If you select the Priority Service – accelerated document review service, the cost of which is around £500 –, your visa status will be ready within five working days.
All applicants first obtain a Tier 1 visa for 30 days, followed by a biometric residence permit valid for 40 months upon their arrival in the UK. Within three months of arriving in the UK, investors are to purchase £2,000,000 worth of corporate shares or bonds issued by affiliated UK corporations.
- They may invest in UK government bonds, as well as share or loan capital in UK-registered enterprises.
- They may not invest in companies whose primary business is to invest in real estate and offshore companies.
There are no specific criteria for applicants to the Tier 1 Investor Visa – they do not need to know English or have previous business experience. Additionally, investors and their family members will be entitled to live, work, and study in the United Kingdom.
Investors can renew their visa for an additional two years if necessary. This will require them keeping their investment for 40 months before seeking an extension, with the repayable investment after five years.
Applying for Permanent Residency
Investors and their family members can apply for permanent residency after five years of residing in the UK, on the condition that they have been living in the UK for at least 186 days within a period of 12 months prior to their application.
A permanent UK residency by investment application is considered by the UK Department for up to six months. The Priority Service provides an accelerated review service within five days, while the Super Priority Service provides an expedited review service within 24 hours. Fees for applying for a permanent residency in the United Kingdom are as follows: |
- £2,389 for each individual;
- £500 for the Priority Service;
- £800 for the Super Priority Service.
Permanent residency by investment can be obtained in two years if the investor places an investment worth £10,000,000 in the UK economy, or in three years if the investor contributes £5,000,000. Only the main applicant can speed up the process of obtaining permanent residency by raising the investment contribution.
The investor and their family members must pass the UK history and social order exam in order to succeed with their application. Candidates under the age of 65 are required to take an oral test in English up to the CEFR level of B1.
Applying for Citizenship
One year after gaining their permanent residency, the investor, their spouse, and children under the age of 18 can all apply for UK citizenship by investment. It is important not to leave the UK for longer than 90 days during this time. The application price for UK economic citizenship costs around £1330 per person.
Alternative to the UK investor visa: UK Innovator Visa
The Innovator visa in the UK is appropriate for entrepreneurs. To apply for the UK Innovator visa, you must satisfy the following requirements in your visa application:
- Have at least £50,000 to use in running your business
- Show a viable business idea which has the support of an endorsing body in the UK or relevant approved body.
- Along with needing an adequate business idea, you must submit a business plan and evidence that you are involved in the business, as well as evidence of your qualifications and experience in running a business;
- Provide proof that you have the required funds to live in Britain
- Hire at least two people in the business
- Have achieved the upper intermediate (B2) level of English.
The innovator route can lead to UK settlement after three years if you are eligible. Note that with the innovator visa, you can only work in the UK, this doesn’t translate to residence straightaway.
Sole Representative of Overseas Business Visa — The Other Alternative
|The cost of visa
|Starts with £620 if paid outside the UK
|Visa period of validity
|After 5 years
|2+ years, repeatedly
|Expedited permanent residence
|English language knowledge
|Listening and Speaking, level A1
A Sole Representative Visa is used by foreign media professionals who have been assigned to work in the UK for an extended period of time. This visa is available to any senior executive of a foreign firm that did not previously have a commercial presence in the UK.
A foreign company’s sole representative is not permitted to:
- Work as a doctor without particular education or experience in a related area in the UK;
- Work for themselves or another employer;
- Qualify for government subsidies and benefits;
- Work as a professional athlete or coach.
Visa applications can be submitted three months prior to departure, and visa approvals are issued within three weeks of their issuing. The Sole Representative of Overseas Business Visa does not have an expedited document review service.
Applicants to this visa must establish a registered office in the United Kingdom. If their work involves distant tasks, there is no need for them to have a physical office. It is also a condition that applicants make decisions on behalf of the firm but are not the dominant shareholder of that firm, and own less than 51% of the share capital.
Applicants must also demonstrate their financial viability. The minimal amount is not defined in the legislation and is computed based on current rental, housing, and market pricing as well as food costs. In 2021, for example, the minimal amount for an applicant’s residency was £18,600 per year.
The Sole Representative Visa can be obtained by the applicant’s spouse, as well as their children should they be under the age of 18. The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) has to be paid by the applicant and their family members prior to filing for their visas. The IHS cost is entirely refundable in the event of visa refusal.
Applicants have to pass the A1 level English language test in Elementary Listening and Speaking. Applicants with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in English are exempt from this requirement.
Applying for Permanent Residency
Candidates and their family members can apply for permanent residency –also known as the UK Golden Visa – after five years of residing in the UK. To be successful, it is necessary for them to have spent at least 186 days in the UK within the frame of a year.
The application price for permanent residency is £2,389 per individual and the UK Department reviews all documents for up to six months. This visa category does not have an accelerated processing service.
To be granted permanent residency, the applicant and their adult family members must pass the UK history and social order exam. Every candidate under the age of 65 is required to complete an oral English exam up to the CEFR level B1.
Applying for Citizenship
One year after gaining permanent residency, the candidate, their spouse, and children under the age of 18 can apply for a UK citizenship. Applicants may not travel beyond the UK for more than 90 days within the frame of that year. The application price for UK citizenship is £1,330 per individual.
Eligibility requirements for the UK Investor Visa are as follows:
- The main applicant must be at least 18
- The main applicant must be in good health
- Hold a clean criminal and immigration record
- Have sufficient funds to invest in the UK investor visa
- Source of funds must be legitimate
- The funds must be held in one or more regulated financial institutions
- Funds must be classified as disposable in the UK
- In addition, you are required to submit your biometric details so that you can be granted a biometric residence permit.
A key perk of the investor program is that you don’t actually need to pass any English language test to obtain the investor visa. This requirement, however, is needed if you’re after citizenship.
Benefits of UK Citizenship
Live, work and study in the UK with a residence permit
Citizenship in five to six years
High quality of life
Easy to set up and run a business
High quality education and free health care services
Fast visa application process for the residence permit
A UK passport allows for visa free travel to over 160 countries worldwide, including the USA under the visa waiver program and EU countries.
Family members include spouses and dependent children under the age of 18 are also eligible for a residence permit and UK citizenship for life
PRs have access to a myriad of opportunities
Successful applicants have the right to live, work or study in the UK without any restrictions and can leave and return as they wish, thanks to permanent residency status.
Diversity is celebrated
A branch of ethnic communities have settled in the UK already, showcasing just how vibrant and culturally diverse the UK is.
Step-by-Step Guide To UK Citizenship
1. Apply for the Investor visa or Innovator one
2. Extend your investor visa or apply for settlement
3. Apply for citizenship
4. Get your passport
Application Process Time for British Citizenship By Investment
Go to a visa centre and submit biometric data
Acquire UK residency
Renew permanent residency
Apply for UK citizenship
Documentation for the investor visa
The Home Office requests the following paperwork to obtain the investor visa. Note that the UK visa application requirements can change at any stage, at the discretion of the UK government. To avoid any disappointments, it is advised to consult a legal advisor on your unique situation. Specialized firms with qualified advisors can help you make sense of the necessary paperwork needed to succeed in your application.
- A valid passport with at least one blank page or another form of identification which can be used for travel; and
- A criminal record certificate
- Evidence of the amount and where it is held
- Confirmation of the source of the funds if the applicant has held them for less than two years
- Confirmation that the funds can be converted into pounds sterling and can be moved to the UK, assuming that they are held outside of the UK at the time of application
- Evidence that the applicant has a bank account with a UK regulated financial institution
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Applicants from some countries must undertake a tuberculosis test and show the tuberculosis test results to the Home Office in order to obtain the investor visa. In addition, a certified translation is required if any of the application documents are not written in English or Welsh.
Can I get British citizenship?
While the UK investor visa doesn’t directly lead to UK citizenship, citizenship by naturalization is possible after five to six years. To be eligible to apply for the British passport, you must pass the Life in the UK test, and meet the English language requirement. You also must pass a good moral character test and have not spent more than 90 days out of the country in the last 12 months before submitting your citizenship application. The timeline to successfully acquiring the British passport: 5 years if settled under the accelerated route or 6 years if settled 5 years after first entry to the UK
If you want to know more about UK visas and British citizenship, have a look at these articles:
- Innovator Visa UK
- Entrepreneur Visa UK
- Indefinite Leave to Remain vs. British Citizenship: A Complete Guide
- Global Talent Visa UK
- Everything about the British Citizenship Application
- Permanent Residence UK
- UK Citizenship by Descent
- British Citizenship: How to Become a British Citizen and Live Legally
- UK Secondment Worker Visa – All You Need to Know!
- UK Expansion Worker Visa – The Ultimate Guide by Experts
- UK Graduate Trainee Visa: Expert Guide 2024
- UK Visa: Options Open to You and How to Apply
- Start-Up Visa UK
Frequently Asked Questions about the UK Investor Visa
How can I apply for the UK Investor Visa?
To apply for a Tier 1 investor visa (citizenship by investment), you will need to make a qualifying investment for indefinite leave.Either invest £2,000,000 to settle in 5 years, £5,000,000 to settle in 3 years or £10,000,000 to settle in 2 years. The investment funds must be injected into the loan capital or share capital in active UK-based companies, or alternatively, Note the visa doesn’t automatically lead applicants to settle permanently in the country, you must lodge a separate application for PR.
Can you get British citizenship by buying property?
Investors cannot rely on property investment in UK property assets as the basis of an application for residency or British citizenship.
Do my family members qualify for the investor visa?
The good news is your entire immediate family members are eligible for the investor visa, and can enjoy the same residency and citizenship rights as you.
Are there any residency requirements for the UK visa?
The investor is required to spend at least 180 days per year in the UK.
Does the UK recognize dual citizenship?
Yes, there is no restriction on dual citizenship in the UK.
Can I get citizenship in the UK by investment?
Yes, you can do it via the Tier 1 UK Visa Investor residency program and acquire it within two to five years based on your investment. Tier 1 UK Visa allows high-net-worth non-EU investors with a significant financial stake in the United Kingdom’s economy to live in the country.
How much do you need to invest in the UK to get citizenship?
The minimum legal requirement is a £2,000,000 investment in qualified corporations in the United Kingdom and maintaining it for a permanent residency to be granted. The investor must demonstrate that the investment sum has been in their custody and control for a minimum of two years.
What is required to obtain British citizenship?
You must submit proof of identification, your biometric residence permit (if you have one), proof of at least a level of B1 in the English language in speaking, writing, listening, and reading (unless exempt), proof that you presently possess Indefinite Leave to Remain status, information about your absences from the UK throughout your qualifying period, and information demonstrating that you were lawfully living in the UK for the appropriate time period.
Who will not be able to obtain British citizenship?
If a person violates immigration regulations, they will be denied citizenship and permanent British residence, specifically under these conditions:
- Violated UK laws;
- Submitted fake papers or concealed information;
- Accepted government subsidies or accessed free medical care prohibited by the visa category;
- Resided in the country for a longer period of time than permitted by a visa;
- Worked or studied illegally;
- Engaged in a fake marriage.