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Tier 1 Investor Visas – Statistics

Tier 1 Investor Visas – Statistics

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Tier 1 Investor Visas – Statistics

The UK, like many other countries, has a “residence by investment” visa route. Put simply, a residence by investment visa enables a wealthy person to invest in a country they like and go and live there – and take their close family members with them if they have any. In most cases such migrants can eventually acquire permanent residence and citizenship of that country if they want to.

In the case of the UK the relevant visa route is the Tier 1 Investor visa. This is a “pure” investment visa: unlike other visas – such as Tier 1 Entrepreneur – which require financial investment in a business and subsequent involvement in the running of the business, there is no such requirement for Tier 1 Investors. The only requirements are that the investment is made in appropriate vehicles (ie British Government bonds or British companies) and that its value is maintained for sufficiently long.

And Tier 1 Investor applicants get rather privileged treatment from the immigration authorities. They do not have to demonstrate any English language skills (unlike the great majority of business visa holders) and they can obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain (also known as settlement or permanent residence) in as little as two years. 

As long as you have at least £2 million pounds to invest this could be a very good and very simple option.

But of course not all investors are able to or are prepared to invest as much as £2 million in the UK, and there is competition from many other countries (and some of them with better weather). The number of migrants being granted Tier 1 Investor visas is consequently very low compared to other visas types. Over the last few years only a few hundred such visas have been granted annually, and various factors have caused a lot of instability in the Tier 1 Investor landscape (not least the doubling of the minimum investment to £2 million in 2014).

But currently, with the weaker pound sterling caused by the Brexit vote, Tier 1 Investor visas have suddenly become a lot cheaper for those holding funds in other currencies, and it surely makes sense for international investors to consider this visa route where previously it was not such a good option.

Statistics for 2017 show a modest number of applications so far this year (less than 100). Traditionally, Chinese and Russian investors led the field, and this pattern is still maintained. China (including Hong Kong) shows by far the greatest number of applications, and Russia is second.

It may be that the Brexit vote is causing uncertainty amongst international investors, despite the fall in the pound. But Brexit is a curious thing. Lots of politicians and economists warned that Brexit would be disastrous for the UK economy. But the disaster has not happened yet and some people – including the Prime Minister and an ex-Governor of the Bank of England – say that Brexit is an opportunity rather than a problem.

It could be time for international investors to look at the Tier 1 Investor scheme afresh.

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