The UK "Golden" Investor Visa

Expat Briefing Editorial Team, 30 January, 2018

For a variety of reasons, London is not usually to be found gracing the top end of the numerous league tables which attempt to measure the most attractive location for expats in terms of quality of life. The weather is bad; the cost of living is high; the cost of property is even higher; the transport system is expensive and overcrowded; the public health service is creaking at the seams; and crime is higher than in many peer nations. Yet, as recent figures show, wealthy foreigners continue to beat a path to its door. And, with a special Tier 1 investor visa – sometimes referred to as the "golden visa" – in place, the UK is only too happy to invite them in.

London – A Haven for the Super-Rich

According to a recent study by Wealth Insight, London is home to 4,400 of the world's "super-rich" – individuals with a net worth in excess of USD30m (GBP22.5m) – more than any other city, including the financial powerhouses of New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. Indeed, London has 25 percent more super-rich residents than Tokyo, and the gap is growing – in the previous year London was home to 22 percent more super-rich residents.

Ironically, given the uncertainty that Brexit is creating with regards to both the UK economy and its immigration and residency rules, it has been reported that London is seeing stronger foreign investment that other major European cities, and some suggest that the investor visa is responsible for the continued strong levels of interest in the British capital. And an August 2017 report by Workpermit.com indicates that Brexit is being seen as a possible opportunity by some wealthy investors, rather than something to run a mile from.

UK Investor Visa: A Summary

Introduced in 2008, the UK investor visa is for people from outside the European Economic Area (the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland.

As its name suggests the investor visa is aimed at high-net-worth individuals. Applicants must have at least GBP2 million available to invest in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies. However, investor visa holders cannot invest in companies mainly engaged in property investment, property management or property investment. They also can't work as a professional sports person or coach, and cannot receive public funds.

Other eligibility requirements include that applicants are at least 18 years old, and can prove that theyown the money they intend to invest, or their husband, wife, unmarried or same-sex partner does. Funds must be deposited in at least one regulated financial institution and "disposable" i.e. free to spend. The money can be either in the UK or abroad at the time the application is made.

Evidence that the applicant has the required investment will need to be presented in the application process. If this is to be the applicant's money, they must show:

If the money belongs to a partner, the applicant will need to provide the following documents:

However, additional documents may be required depending on the applicant's circumstances.

Any documents that are not in English or Welsh will have to be accompanied by a certified translation.

Students with financial sponsorship may also be eligible for an investor visa if they are already in the UK and are:

However, applicants falling into these categories must have unconditional agreement in writing from their financial sponsor to re-enter or stay in the UK if their course fees and living costs were paid by either a government or an international scholarship agency.

Those applying for an investor visa must do so online. However, applicants will need to have their fingerprints and photograph (known as 'biometric information') taken at a visa application center as part of the application process.

An investor visa entitles the applicant to remain in the UK for a maximum period of three years and four months. It is possible for a visa to be extended for an additional two years, but different rules apply depending on when the first successful application was made.

For visas applied for prior to November 6, 2014, the individual must meet the following requirements:

This sum should include the GBP750,000 (or more) investment and GBP250,000 (or the balance needed) to bring it up to at least GBP1 million. These funds can be either the applicant or their partner's money, or in the form of a loan from a UK-regulated financial institution provided that the minimum GBP2 million asset threshold is maintained.

A successful visa application made after November 6, 2014 can be extended if the applicant has at least GBP2m under their control, has invested it in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active UK companies and has invested it within three months of the visa start date.

An investor visa holder can apply to settle in the UK after two years if they invest GBP10 million, and after three years if they invest GBP5 million.

Dependents, defined as a husband, wife or child under 18, can also accompany the investor visa holder and enter the UK. However, they must also undergo an online application and have their biometric information taken at a visa application center.

At the time of writing, a fee of GBP1,561 is payable when applying for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa online or by post. The same fee is payable when a visa is being extended or switched to another visa scheme.

The Government also offers a "super premium" services for those who wish to apply in person. This costs GBP10,500, plus GBP2,030 for each person applying. The super premium services can be used for up to four main applicants (i.e. the applicants with access to the money), and a maximum of 10 people per visit.

Tags: interest | Students | Europe | Work | Invest | Other | Wealth | individuals | investment | Hong Kong | Switzerland | Iceland | Liechtenstein | Norway | Singapore | services | public health | fees |

 




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