UK immigration: high net worth individuals

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High net worth individuals who are subject to UK immigration controls and who wish to come to the UK to take up residence can generally do so with relative ease.

Immigration system

The UK operates a points-based immigration system which is divided into tiers. Individuals who require a visa to enter the UK must apply for entry clearance before travelling to the UK. Entry clearance determines from the outset that someone has both leave to enter the UK and leave to remain in the UK. Whether an individual is granted leave to remain in the UK for a limited period or is granted indefinite leave to remain (leave to settle) will depend on the circumstances.

Tier 1 (Investor) category

This category is for high net worth individuals who are willing to make a substantial financial investment in the UK. Investment required To qualify for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa an individual must:

  • have a minimum of £1 million of his own money, under his control, held in a regulated financial institution and disposable in the UK;

OR

  • own personal assets which, taking into account any liabilities to which they are subject, have a value exceeding £2 million; and
  • have a minimum of £1 million, under his control, held in a regulated financial institution and disposable in the UK. This can include money lent to him by a regulated financial institution.

At least £750,00 of the funds invested in the UK must be invested in UK Government bonds or in active UK trading companies.

The investor may have to show the source of the capital which he intends to bring into the UK. The funds must be invested directly by the individual; they can not be invested through an offshore company or trust.

Leave to remain in UK

Initially an investor will be given a visa for leave to remain in the UK for 3 years and 4 months, and will then be able to extend his stay for a further 2 years.

Leave to settle in UK

The point at which an investor can apply for leave to settle (that is, to remain indefinitely) in the UK depends on the level of his financial investment in the UK. Someone who has invested £1 million may apply for leave to settle after being continuously resident in the UK for 5 years; an investor who has invested £5 million may apply after 3 years of continuous residence and someone who has invested £10 million may apply after he has been continuously resident for just 2 years. Investors are not permitted to be absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 calendar months to qualify for leave to settle in the UK.

Citizenship

An investor will be able to apply for British citizenship once he has been living in the UK for 5 years, or if he is married to a British citizen after he has been resident in the UK for 3 years. To qualify for citizenship, the investor must usually have spent at least 75% of his time in the UK.

General

The Tier 1 (Investor) category (unlike some other categories) is not subject to a limit on the number of applicants in any one year. A successful applicant under the Tier 1 (Investor) category is permitted to bring his or her spouse and minor children to the UK. Applicants under this category are not required to engage in any business activities in the UK.

This note provides a brief overview of our understanding of the UK investor visa category. This note should not be relied on as legal advice.

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