Tier 1 Investor Visa

The Tier 1 Investor visa has been closed to all new applicants from all nationalities with effect from 17 February 2022.

Please contact our visa specialists for advice on alternative options for a UK visa or on Ireland's equivalent scheme, the Immigrant Investor Programme.

Tier 1 Investor Visa

The UK government has now closed the Tier 1 Investor visa. The closure applies from 17 February 2022 to all new applications and to applicants of all nationalities.

As an alternative to the UK investor visa, we can support with applications for the Irish Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP), which offers residency in Ireland, as well as a path to Irish citizenship and to an Irish (EU) passport. 

In its announcement on the closure of the Tier 1 visa, the Home Office advised it would be reforming the UK Innovator route to allow for a new investment route which “works more effectively in support of the UK’s economy”.

Settlement is to 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”.  

The following information was published prior to the visa route closing on 17 February 2022. 

What is a Tier 1 Investor Visa?

The Tier 1 Investor Visa is open to applications from individuals looking to invest in the UK.

Following a period of review, new rules took effect in March 2019, imposing more stringent regulations and requirements on Tier 1 investor visa applicants.

A Tier 1 Investor visa allows you to invest £2,000,000 or more in UK share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies. Investor visa holders are permitted (but not obliged) to work, study or engage in business activities in the UK.

If you are looking to invest in the UK, it is important to seek legal advice to understand the migration options open to you, to ensure your application satisfies the increasingly stringent regulations and is effectively represented to avoid any delays with your application.

What will I need to show to apply for a Tier 1 Investor visa?

The requirements under the Tier 1 investor visa were tightened in March 2019 following a government review. The new regulations place more onerous criteria on applicants. As part of your application you will need to demonstrate:

  • The £2 million investment is the price paid by the investor rather than the market value.
  • The money for investment belongs either to you, your spouse or civil partner.
  • The funds must be held in one or more regulated financial institutions. The UK bank holding your funds will need to confirm they have carried out all required due diligence checks and Know Your Customer enquiries.
  • The funds are available to be transferred to and invested in the UK.
  • The requirement to show source of funds if £2 million has been held for less than 2 years (previously 90 days).
  • Applicants can be refused the visa if the Home Office have reasonable grounds to believe the funds used for the investment breached exchange controls.

What are permissible investments or activities under the Tier 1 Investor route?

You are not allowed to invest in companies mainly engaged in property investment, property management or property development, work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach, or claim UK public funds. The new rules in 2019 also exclude government bonds from permissible investments.

Pooled investments that receive funding from a UK or devolved government department or one of its agencies are, under the new rules, allowable investment.

Any intermediary vehicle must be regulated by the FCA and the investor will need to produce evidence of the final investment destination and how funds were transferred there.

The definition of an “active and trading” UK company has also been tightened. Stronger evidence of trading in the UK as follows:

  • Registered with Companies House in the UK.
  • Registered with HMRC for corporation tax and PAYE.
  • Accounts and UK business bank account showing regular trading.
  • At least two UK employees who are not directors.

How long is the Tier 1 Investor visa valid for?

Entry into the UK under a Tier 1 Investor visa is for a maximum of three years and four months. You can apply to extend this visa for another two years.

How can I extend my Tier 1 Investor visa?

If you have applied for and been granted a Tier 1 investor visa prior to the 29th March 2019, the ‘old’ rules will continue to apply in respect of visa extensions until 5th April 2023.

Settlement applications under the route can be made until 5th April 2025.

If your visa was granted prior to 6th November 2014, when the original £1 million threshold applied, the key dates to note are 6th April 2020 for extensions and 6th April 2022 for settlement. Applications made after these dates will be subject to the new rules.

Under the latest rule changes, extension applications submitted abroad will now be granted for 2 years, to align with extensions made within the UK. You are required to meet eligibility criteria and to submit a formal application to extend your Tier 1 investor visa. We detail the extension application process here.

Can Tier 1 Investor visa holders apply to settle in the UK?

You may become eligible to apply to settle permanently in the UK after two years if you invest £10 million, after three years if you invest £5 million, or after five years if you invest £2 million. Any dependent family members that you bring with you must wait five years before they are eligible for settlement.

Making a Tier 1 Investor Visa application

At DavidsonMorris we help both individuals and a wide range of commercial employers meet their global mobility needs, including Tier 1 investor visa applications.

We have the experience to advise you on the most appropriate category of visa for your circumstances and have the insight to make the process as smooth as possible.

As a team of immigration lawyers and former Home Office employees, we have an established reputation for effective and efficient management and processing of visa applications, and for providing expert visa-related advice. We also understand the stresses involved with moving across the world, and take great pride in playing a supportive role to ease the pressure.


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