Britain's legal system, with its flowery language, red robes, and powdered wigs, can seem somewhat comical to outsiders — or baroque and downright confusing to those seeking to navigate it. When it comes to immigration issues, there’s an added layer of complexity. The United Kingdom regulates immigration advisory services with three classes of advisers, who may or may not be lawyers, authorized to provide advice, fill out forms, and, in some cases, represent clients before immigration tribunals.
United Kingdom Investment Immigration Programs Overview
The UK residency program offers a chance to settle in a stable, cosmopolitan country with a vibrant business community, free healthcare, and some of the best schools and universities in the world.
The program is aimed at people who want to settle permanently in the UK and offers a valuable pathway to residency and eventually citizenship. After several years as a resident, investors will receive permanent residency. It will take a minimum of five years before they can qualify for citizenship.
UK doesn’t operate a citizenship-by-investment program. Investors who receive admission to the UK under the Tier 1 Investor Visa program, however, can qualify for citizenship after a minimum of five years of residency, without making any additional investments. In addition to five years of UK residency, investors must have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, the British equivalent of permanent residency, at least 12 months before applying for citizenship.
The UK’s Tier 1 Investor Visa is designed for investors from countries that aren’t part of the European single market.
The core visa requires applicants to demonstrate that they have no less than 2 million pounds available to invest in the UK through government bond purchases, share capital, or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies. The investment doesn’t have to be completed prior to receiving a Tier 1 visa, but the investment should be made within three months of arrival in order to qualify for subsequent visa extensions and a pathway to citizenship. Investments made up to 12 months prior to the application can also be counted towards the 2 million pound total.
Successful applicants receive a visa that remains valid for 3 years and 4 months, which can then be extended for an additional two years if the investments were made promptly and properly maintained. After five yearse, applicants can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. One year after receiving ILR status, investors qualify for British citizenship.
The Tier 1 program also offers two fast-track programs that can allow investors to obtain permanent status more quickly. Applicants who invest 5 million pounds can obtain ILR status after three years, while applicants who invest 10 million pounds can obtain ILR status after two years. In both fast-track scenarios, investors would be able to apply for naturalization five years after arriving in the UK.
HOW TO APPLY
Investors must open a British bank account or investment account and demonstrate they have at least 2 million pounds available for investment in the UK, typically by providing a portfolio report, bank documents, or other evidence. The funds can be held by the applicant, or jointly with or solely by their spouse or unmarried partner. The UK closely monitors the sources of funds, especially in cases where funds were acquired less than three months before the application. Authorities can issue rejections when it believes funds were acquired through means that would not have been legal in the UK, or if it believes the funds were provided by a third party of questionable character or associations. Funds can be held overseas at the time of application but must be deposited with a registered financial institution capable of complying with British verification checks.
Investors aren’t required to demonstrate English-language proficiency but must provide criminal record certificates for every country where they’ve lived for more than 12 months over the previous decade. Applications should be filed, along with a 1,623-pound filing fee, no more than three months before travel, and are typically processed within three weeks of receipt.
A Tier 1 investor visa does not confer automatic travel rights within the EU, and even ILR status doesn’t automatically allow visa-free travel to the Schengen Area. Once the visa-holder qualifies for British citizenship, it changes considerably: the British passport is one of the strongest in the world, offering visa-free travel to 175 countries — a total only surpassed by Germany, Singapore, and Switzerland — along with the right to live and work throughout the European Union.
The British travel and employment rights in Europe could change in coming years as Brexit takes effect.
Britain remains a major international power and a global financial hub. The country is enduring a period of some economic and political uncertainty as its leaders seek to negotiate terms for its withdrawal from the European Union. Despite Brexit, UK remains one of Europe’s most powerful economies, and its stability, world-class educational system, and free health service should ensure it remains a magnet for immigration investors in coming years.
March 26, 2018
Investors are still showing a strong interest in immigrating to the United Kingdom despite the upcoming Brexit, which has England on a course to leave the European Union by 2019 after a historic referendum last year. The event might put an end to the free movement and ability to work and live in any EU county for British citizens.