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Tier 1 - Investor Visa

The Tier 1 Investor visa is not really a working visa, but Tier 1 Investors are entitled to work in the UK if they want to. To qualify for a Tier 1 Investor visa the applicant – either from outside or possibly from in the UK – has to show that they hold funds of at least £2 million which is under their control and which they intend to invest in British companies or in British Government bonds.

The visa is granted for three years. If the migrant holds £2 million, they may be able to extend their visa for a further two years, provided that they can show that they have invested the funds in appropriate investments. After five years in total, they may be eligible for apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain if they have maintained their investment appropriately.

However, if the migrant has more than £2 million to invest they may be able to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain more quickly, and they will not need to extend their visa. If they invest £5 million, they may be able to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain in three years, and if they invest £10 million they may be able to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain in just two years.

There is no English language requirement for Tier 1 Investor applicants but, as for all types of applicant, there is an English language requirement and Life in the UK test requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications.

Why no English language requirement for Tier 1 Investor visa applicants?

It’s a good question. According to the Home Office guidance, this is because “while you are allowed to work in the UK if you wish to, you should not need to work”. But this doesn’t seem a very good explanation because there are other types of visa (e.g., spouse visa) where you don’t have to work, but there is nonetheless an English language requirement. Perhaps the real reason is that the Home Office don’t wish to discourage rich investors by insisting on an English language requirement.

What are the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain for a Tier 1 Investor?

The applicant must have invested the appropriate amount of funds (either £2m, £5m or £10m) into appropriate UK investments. The whole of the investment must have been made within three months, and it must have been maintained for the whole of the remaining part of the relevant period (either five years, three years or two years). They must not have spent more than 180 days per year outside the UK during the relevant period. The applicant must also satisfy an English language test and must additionally have passed the Life in the UK test.

Can a Tier 1 Investor Visa lead to British citizenship?

Yes, potentially it can, but first, the migrant must have lived in the UK lawfully for at least five years, and also they must have acquired Indefinite Leave to Remain, which they must have held for at least one year. So an applicant who has acquired Indefinite Leave to Remain after only three years or two years might – depending on their circumstances – have to wait for several years before they are eligible to apply for British citizenship.

And also the applicant must not have spent too much time outside the UK during the five-year period. It is important to understand that the requirement about time spent outside the UK for a British citizenship application is stricter than it is for an Indefinite Leave to Remain application, so it could happen that an applicant who had successfully acquired Indefinite Leave to Remain would nevertheless have spent too much time outside the UK to qualify for British citizenship.

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