The Tier 1 UK investor visa is intended for non-EEA nationals wishing to make a substantial investment in the UK.

The following guide provides an outline of the eligibility criteria when applying for a UK Investor visa, including the stringent financial requirements that all applicants must satisfy.

What is the UK Investor visa?

The five-tier points-based system is the main UK immigration route for foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to work, train or study in the UK.

Tier 1 of this system is specifically designed to cover entry of investors, entrepreneurs, graduate entrepreneurs and those who qualify as ‘exceptional talent’.

The Tier 1 Investor category is for non-EEA nationals who wish to make an investment in the UK of at least £2 million, or the equivalent value where the funds are held in another currency.

Eligibility criteria for a UK Investor visa

Under the points based system you must meet the full requirements of the Immigration Rules and score a minimum number of points determined by your Tier 1 visa application. For a Tier 1 UK Investor visa, you must score a minimum of 75 points.

To secure these points you are required to show that you are able to make an investment of £2million or more in the UK. This means you must have:

  • At least £2 million of your own funds, under your control, held in a regulated financial institution and which is disposable in the UK.
  • Opened an account with a UK regulated bank for the purposes of making the investment.

The funds for which you are claiming points may be held overseas at the time of application or may already be in the UK. If the funds are not already in the UK, you must provide confirmation that the money can be freely transferred and, where applicable, evidence that you have sought and gained any necessary approval to transfer your funds freely to the UK.

You may rely on funds owned either jointly with, or solely by, your husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner. However, you must have an unrestricted right to transfer and dispose of the money, with permission to have control of the funds in the UK. You will need to provide documentary evidence of your relationship and the permission to use the joint funds for which you are claiming points.

You must also provide a letter, issued by an authorised official of a UK regulated bank, which is dated within 3 months before the date of your application, confirming that you have opened an account with that bank for the purposes of investing the qualifying minimum investment threshold of £2million in the UK.

UK Investor visa – source of funds

You must provide evidence that the funds for which you are claiming points have been held, whether in the UK or offshore, for a period of 90 consecutive days prior to making your application for a UK Investor visa.

The documentary evidence submitted in support of your application should cover this 90 day period, ending no earlier than one calendar month before the date of your application.

If the funds have not been held for 90 consecutive days, then you will need to show the source of the funds. The Home Office will consider the following range of sources (although in some cases other sources for which specified evidence is provided may also be considered):

  • a gift
  • deeds of sale
  • evidence from a business
  • a will
  • a divorce settlement
  • an award or winnings.

The Home Office will only consider fresh investments, ie; investments made in the UK within the 12 months immediately before the date of your application.

UK Investor visa – proof of funds

The nature and extent of the documentation submitted in support of your application for a UK Investor visa will be key in determining whether or not your application is successful.

Where the Immigration Rules require that specified documents be provided, the caseworker assessing your application will only accept such documents as evidence of the relevant requirement.

To satisfy the Home Office of your investment funds, you must provide evidence using at least one of the following four forms:

  • a portfolio report or breakdown of investments in a letter produced by a UK regulated financial institution
  • documentary evidence of holdings, for example, from an accountant
  • personal bank statements
  • a letter from a bank.

The Home Office will not consider unrelated evidence when calculating the points score. Further, if the documents you submit do not contain all the required information, your application will be refused.

You must ensure that all of the necessary documentation in support of your UK Investor visa application is provided at the time the application is submitted. Any documents must be originals, not copies, unless stated otherwise.

If you are applying for entry clearance, you must also provide an overseas criminal record certificate for any country you have been present in continuously or cumulatively for 12 months or more, in the 10 years prior to your application.

UK Investor visa – control and provenance of funds

The UK Investor visa category is open to applicants over the age of 18, provided you can show that you have the necessary funds for investment in the UK, and that these funds are under your control.

In assessing your application, the Home Office will carefully examine the provenance of the funds for which you are claiming points, and whether these are wholly under your control.

The Home Office may not award points where they have reasonable grounds to believe one or more of the following applies:

  • you are not in control of, and at liberty freely to invest the, money specified in your application.
  • any of the money held by you, or being made available to you by a third party, has been acquired by means of conduct which is unlawful in the UK, or would constitute unlawful conduct if it occurred in the UK.
  • the character, conduct or associations of any third party providing funds is such that approval of the application would not be conducive to the public good.

Source of funds has come under renewed scrutiny, and applicants are advised to seek guidance to ensure you provide adequate evidence of provenance.

Seeking legal advice for a UK Investor visa

DavidsonMorris are specialist Tier 1 advisers. We advise applicants for the UK investor visa on all aspects of the application process, including satisfying the evidential requirements.