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How foreign nationals can invest in the UK

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The Tier 1 (Investor) visa grants a foreign investor permission to live in the UK with none of the restrictions on work or residence that apply to other visas. 

By demonstrating access to £2 million, investors can be granted a visa for 3 years initially, extendable to 5 years in total on condition of investing the full £2 million into UK companies and/or the UK government. After five years’ residence, the investor can apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK and even British nationality 12 months later. 

How do I demonstrate that I have access to £2 million?

Investors are required to evidence £2 million that is held in a regulated financial institution and disposable in the UK. The £2 million is seen as available to the investor if it is either held by the investor or the investor’s spouse or unmarried partner.

Investors either need to have held the £2 million in cash for a specific amount of time. If the investment funds are held for less than this amount of time, then the investor is required to provide evidence of the source of funds, whether it be a gift, proceeds from the sale of assets or winnings even. An investor cannot apply based on the value of assets alone; the assets need to be liquidated. 

For a few countries, the Home Office has published lists of which banks are approved and which are not. If you are a national of Cameroon, Ghana, India, Pakistan, Iran, Philippines, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, get in touch to see which banks these are.

How is money disposable in the UK?

Money is disposable in the UK if it is either held by a UK-based financial institution or if the funds, in their entirety, can be accessed whilst in the UK. Some countries have foreign exchange controls that limit the amount of money that can be exported out of the country and so the funds held in that country cannot be seen to be disposable in the UK. 

What can I invest in?

Investors have to invest within a specific time period in either UK government bonds or in share or loan capital in an active and trading UK registered company (or companies). Investments cannot be made into an offshore company, trusts, or in a company where the investment is held offshore. Investments cannot be in open-ended investment companies, investment trust companies, investment syndicate companies or pooled-investment vehicles. Property and property-management or development companies are precluded as too are ISAs or premium bonds. 

Can my investment be managed by a financial institution?

Yes, it can, but investors need to be mindful of the rules with regards to maintaining their investments. What this means is that on a quarterly basis, the investment needs to be consistently at a level no less than £2 million. With investments in UK companies, if the share value dips, then more money needs to be invested to compensate. Conversely, any gain from the initial investment also needs to be reinvested. Investors will need to produce quarterly reports as evidence of the continuous value of their investments.

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