The United Kingdom is a very popular destination for investment immigration.
International investors are attracted by financial opportunities and the relative stability of investment in the UK property market which generally deliver higher returns on investment as compared to our countries.
The UK also provides a bridge between Europe and the US is well connected as a hub and investors are attracted by the diversity, high standards of education and lifestyle in cities such as London, the financial capital of the world.
The UK investor visa program is one of the fastest immigration routes to the country. It enables investors and their families to migrate to the country much quicker than the traditional routes of immigration. The minimum investment for the UK investor visa program is affordable, giving Investors the opportunity to maximize their wealth at a low cost.
What are the options for the UK citizenship by investment program?
There are three ways through which you can migrate to the country and take advantage of the UK permanent residency and this citizenship. Remember in 2021 the UK passport was ranked the 4th best passport in the world!
This blog focuses on the three routes to start a business in the UK or obtain your UK citizenship by investment. For all the options, living in the UK for a certain period of time would make you eligible for UK citizenship.
1. UK Innovator Visa
The first option you have is to migrate through the UK innovator visa. This visa program is for business people who can demonstrate experience. They can either directly apply under this category or switch into this category if you are already in the UK on a Startup visa.
The innovator visa allows you to migrate to the UK for the purposes of starting an innovative business. The business plan and idea must be unique and genuine and should have the ability to create jobs in the UK. There should be a market for the business and your research and business plan should address any shortcomings.
The innovator visa requires an investment of £50,000 at a minimum per applicant so if there are two or more partners, each applicant has to invest at least £50,000 to establish the business in the UK.
Things you need to know –
- The innovator visa requires your business idea and plan to first be endorsed by an endorsing body- they will look at how creative it is and whether it is viable
- The duration of the innovator visa is 3 years. However, you can extend it an unlimited number of times after its expiration date. It will offer you an indefinite leave to remain in the country after 5 years
- During the first 5 year period you are only allowed to work in your own business
2. The UK Start-Up Visa
Similar to the innovator visa, the startup visa involves starting a business in the UK for the first time. You should have an original business idea that meets the requirements of the existing markets- Again your idea must be endorsed by an endorsing body.
This involves an endorsing company assessing your idea, and assessing whether the idea is creative enough to create employment and be viable in the UK.
Unlike the innovator visa there are no minimum investment requirements under the startup visa. However, you need to have access to sufficient funds for operating a business and some endorsing bodies may require up to £25,000 investment funds available to you.
Things to know:
- The duration of the start-up visa is 2 years. You cannot extend your stay after the visa has expired. You need to convert into another business visa, preferably the innovator visa.
- The startup visa also gives your family of four members access to the UK. They are free to work, travel, and live anywhere in the country.
- While there is no minimum investment, you need to have proof of funds and enough personal savings to support yourself while being in the country.
3. Tier 1 Investor Visa
This is the UK main answer to citizenship by investment options worldwide. Previously this visa only required (in line with other global programs) a £1 million investment in the UK but since 2016 this has since doubled to £2 million.
Indefinite Leave to remain is normally available after 2, 3 or 5 years depending on your investment in the UK. Family members are dependents are free to join you and there are no instructions to the main applicant undertaking employment in the UK. UK passport and citizenship is available 1 year after ILR.
The Tier 1 investor visa can be obtained through three different investment options:
- £2 million Investment leading to ILR in 5 years
- £5 million Investment leading to ILR in 3 years
- £10 million Investment leading to ILR in 2 years
Before applying for this visa you need to show that you have held the above funds in your account for at least 6 months or you may need to prove the source of funds.
There are limited options where the investment can be made (within 3 months of entering the UK) and these normally include in stocks and shares in listed companies.
In summary, although the UK investor program may require a higher investment as compared to other companies, it still offers a very easy path for international investors to obtain UK citizenship relatively fast and document free.