UK Citizenship By Investment – The Ultimate Guide By Experts

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 f 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

£2,000,000 to settle in 5 years

£5,000,000 to settle in 3 years

£5,000,000 to settle in 3 years

£10,000,000 to settle in 2 years

£10,000,000 to settle in 2 years

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.

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. 

Eligibility

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

Live, work and study in the UK with a residence permit

Citizenship in five to six years

Citizenship in five to six years

High quality of life

High quality of life

Easy to set up and run a business

Easy to set up and run a business

High quality education and free health care services

High quality education and free health care services

Fast visa application process for the residence permit

Fast visa application process for the residence permit

British passport

A UK passport allows for visa free travel to over 160 countries worldwide, including the USA under the visa waiver program and EU countries.

Whole family

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

Month 1
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Submit application

Month 2
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Go to a visa centre and submit biometric data

Month 3
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Acquire UK residency

Year 3
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Renew permanent residency

Year 5
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Apply for UK citizenship

Documentation for the investor visa

The Home Office requests the following paperwork to obtain the investor visa. Note that 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

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.