Investor Visa UK

Is there any alternative to the now-closed UK Investor visa?

By Amer Zaman

on August 4, 2023

Read Time: 8 Minutes

On 17th February 2022, the UK Government announced that it had closed its Tier 1 Investor visa route – also sometimes referred to as the “UK Golden visa” – with immediate effect. In a statement at the time, the Home Office said that the Investor visa category had failed to “deliver for the UK people” and provided “opportunities for corrupt elites to access the UK.”

The decision to suddenly end this visa scheme on national security grounds brought an end to a long history of this type of visa investment programme in the UK. The Tier 1 Investor visa itself had been launched in 2008, and the country had operated some form of investor programme to encourage high-net-worth personal investment in the UK since 1994.

With the Investor visa’s demise, many migrants are looking for substitutes

Over the Tier 1 Investor visa’s period in operation, thousands of foreign nationals had used the route in order to secure leave in the UK. The visa route had also been subject to several rounds of reform over the years; on 6th April 2015, for instance, the requirement was introduced for candidates to open a regulated UK bank account before applying for the visa. Further new rules took effect in March 2019, placing more onerous criteria on applicants.

The version of the Tier 1 Investor visa as it stood prior to its closure in 2022, enabled migrants to invest a minimum of £2,000,000 in UK share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies. In return for this, and complying with the other eligibility requirements for this route, foreign nationals were able to obtain a visa entitling them to stay in the UK for an initial three years and four months (or three years if processed in the UK).

Although it is still possible for some existing Tier 1 Investor visa holders to extend it, for high-net-worth individuals who wish to relocate to the UK, there is currently no obvious “Golden visa”-type programme acting as a direct replacement for the Investor visa.

This brings us neatly onto the subject of our own Skilled Worker visa by investment programme here at Cranbrook Legal. In this article, we will be setting out why this scheme could be an alluring option for ambitious businesspeople who might have otherwise previously opted for the Investor visa.  

Can I still get an Investor visa in the UK?

The short answer to this question is no, you can no longer obtain a Tier 1 Investor visa in the UK, at least if you are not a current or recent holder of one.

If you do already have a Tier 1 Investor visa, or if you held one in the last 12 months and it was your most recent UK visa, you do have some options. You could use your visa and time in the UK to apply for the “indefinite leave to remain” (ILR) status that would entitle you to stay in the UK permanently, or you can apply for your family members (“dependants”) to join you in the UK.

Another possibility, if you already hold a Tier 1 Investor visa, could be to apply to extend your visa for an additional two years. In that case, you are advised to apply before your current Tier 1 Investor visa expires, and the exact eligibility requirements will depend on when you successfully applied for your original Investor visa. If, on the other hand, you are not a current or recent holder of the Tier 1 Investor visa, any opportunity to apply has now passed. The closure of the scheme took effect from 4pm on 17th February 2022, and applied to all new Investor visa applications, regardless of the nationality of the applicant.

What alternatives exist to the UK Investor visa following its closure?

In its announcement setting out that the programme had closed, the Government indicated a switch in philosophy, stating that settlement in the UK would “now be conditional on applicants executing an investment strategy that can show genuine job creation and other tangible economic impacts. Passively holding UK investments will no longer be enough to obtain settlement.”  

Indeed, in the same statement, the Home Office said that changes would be made to the Innovator visa route to support the Government’s goal of being more selective in the migrant investors it permitted to relocate to the UK.

Sure enough, the Innovator visa has now been transformed into the Innovator Founder visa. As we wrote about previously here at Cranbrook Legal, this renewed scheme brings certain important changes beyond a mere renaming or rebranding, including a different list of Endorsing Bodies, and applicants no longer being required to show they have access to £50,000 in investment funds.

There is, however, another route that could be of interest to many business-minded high-net-worth individuals who would like to move to, work in, and invest in the UK: our own highly regarded Skilled Worker visa by investment programme.

Introducing our Skilled Worker visa by investment scheme, and why you might consider it

Many of our readers will be aware of the UK Skilled Worker visa, which is a visa route that enables a foreign national to come to or stay in the UK, while working in an eligible job with an employer that holds a Home Office sponsor licence.

Our Skilled Worker visa by investment scheme provides a route through which an ambitious businessperson can secure this visa. In effect, it enables them to move to the UK and commence a career here through a combination of full-time employment and investment.

If you have funds to invest in a UK-based organisation, and you also have skills that would be genuinely valuable to such an organisation in a sector such as banking, financial services, software development, consultancy, or marketing, this could be a very attractive alternative way to start a new life in the UK now that the Tier 1 Investor visa category has closed.

You can find out more about our Skilled Worker visa by investment programme by clicking through to the relevant page of the Cranbrook Legal website.

There is a wide range of reasons why you might be drawn to this scheme, with one of them being the powerful rights the Skilled Worker visa itself would give you – including to move to and work in the UK for up to five years before you will need to extend the visa. As a holder of this visa, you may also be able to bring your ‘dependant’ family members with you to the UK.

Another major benefit of this programme is the comprehensive project management of your application that our specialists in UK immigration law will provide. Our central London-based solicitors have an excellent track record of helping migrants from a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances to get Home Office approval for a Skilled Worker visa.

So, when you place your trust in our team, you will know that you are in the best possible hands.

Can I invest in the UK and get citizenship?

One of the principal attractions of the Tier 1 Investor visa category for many people, was the pathway that it provided to settling in the UK, and eventual citizenship.

Specifically, the programme allowed holders of the Investor visa to apply for permanent settlement – also known as “indefinite leave to remain” (ILR) status – after holding the visa for five years, provided that they could demonstrate their £2,000,000 investment in the UK had been maintained.

And of course, that possibility remains open to those who already hold the Tier 1 Investor visa, or who had one in the last 12 months, as long as it was their most recent UK visa.

But what about those who do not have an Investor visa already, and who wish to invest in the UK as a means of eventually obtaining citizenship? Well, the bad news for such individuals is that, at the time of typing, there isn’t any direct “citizenship by investment” route in the UK. There are, however, several visa routes in the UK that can lead to British citizenship eventually.

The aforementioned Innovator Founder visa is one of those routes, with holders of this visa potentially able to apply for settlement once they have spent three years living in the UK. And our Skilled Worker visa by investment scheme can also entitle the visa holder to settle in the UK, after five years, provided that they satisfy the other requirements for ILR.

Although some high-net-worth foreign nationals might be satisfied enough with ILR status in the UK – given the rights this would give them to live, work, and study in the country for as long as they wish – some may wish to go further, by applying for British citizenship.

As a general rule, a migrant is entitled to apply to become a British citizen if they have spent five years living in the UK, and have had one of the following for a minimum of 12 months:

Naturally, every person’s situation is different, and as stated above, you will need to comply with certain other requirements in order to be approved for citizenship.

Especially in the current climate as the UK looks to guard against potential national security risks such as those that led it to close the Tier 1 Investor visa scheme, you cannot expect to be able to secure British citizenship – or even a visa – through investment alone.

Talk to the Cranbrook Legal team today about your prospective move to the UK

With the above guide, we have sought to outline the reasons why the Tier 1 Investor visa scheme was brought to an end by the UK Government. In the process, though, we would also like to remind aspiring high-net-worth migrants to the UK that there could still be attractive options for them to relocate to the country, such as through our Skilled Worker visa by investment pathway.

If you would like to learn more about the options that could be open for you, or about any other aspect of potentially investing in and moving to the UK, our experts in UK immigration law would be pleased to discuss this with you. Please feel free to call 0208 215 0053 today, or to complete and submit our online contact form to arrange a free consultation.

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