Home Office will review all applications from investors who received visas between June 2008 and April 2015. 85% of them are Russian nationals. This is the statistic cited by the British non-profit organisation Spotlight on Corruption.
issued to Russians from 2008 to 2015
The period was not chosen randomly: before 2015, investors did not undergo Due Diligence and were not required to prove the legality of their sources of income. As a result, people involved in criminal activities could obtain a visa.
To obtain the Investor Visa Tier 1, an investor invests money in a UK business. The minimum investment amount is £2 million.
The investor visa holder is entitled to enter the country, live, study and do business in the UK. After five years, the investor can obtain permanent residency and, after another year, British citizenship. For those who invest £10 million or more, the path to citizenship is shortened to three years.
The Home Office has seen the issuing of the Investor Visa Tier 1 without proper security checks as a threat to national security. The re-checking of applications began three years ago and is still ongoing. If an investor is found to be ineligible for a visa or to have received money for an investment from illegal sources, their visa or citizenship can be revoked.
How the conditions for obtaining a British investor visa have changed
The first major changes to the procedure took place in 2014. The minimum investment amount then doubled from one to two million sterling.
amount increased in 2014
In 2015, the age of the investor was raised from 16 to 18. There are also requirements:
For the investor – to open a UK bank account before applying for a visa;
For financial institutions to conduct Due Diligence on new clients, including verifying the legal source of money for the investment.
From 2019, an investor can only apply for the Investor Visa Tier 1 if applicant:
Holds the amount of the investment for at least two years. Before that, the period was from 90 days;
invests in shares in British companies. Investments in government bonds are no longer accepted;
will provide proof of the final purpose of the investment and the method of payment if using intermediaries.
The effectiveness of the stricter issuance rules can be seen in the statistics of rejected investor visa applications. In 2015, almost twice as many applications were rejected as in 2014. The same trend can be seen at the end of 2020.
Percentage of rejected applications for Investor Visa Tier 1
Spotlight on Corruption calls on the UK government to rethink the conditions for issuing an investor visa. For example, it suggests that all sources of income should be verified over their lifetime, not just the last two years before applying for a visa.
If the applicant has been given money to invest, the source of the money should also be verified – it is not necessary to provide proof of the legality of income in this case.
The experts at Spotlight on Corruption also ask the UK Home Office to publish annual statistics not only on investor visas issued but also on those cancelled, indicating the reason.
What other visas to the UK are available to investors
If an investor wants to do business in the UK, they can get a Sole Representative, Start-up Visa or Innovator Visa instead of an Investor Visa Tier 1.
The Sole Representative visa is granted to the head of a company that is opening a representative office in the UK for the first time. The applicant must be a majority shareholder in the business, i.e. own more than 50% of the company’s share capital.
The applicant proves financial solvency. In 2021, he/she must have an income of £18,600 per annum to live in the UK. The investor also proves knowledge of English at A1 level, Listening and Speaking Elementary.
Start-up Visa is issued to investors who want to start an innovative business in the UK. Before applying for the visa, a business plan must be approved by one of the UK universities or an organisation that supports entrepreneurs.
Innovator Visa is available to investors who submit an innovative business project. The idea must be different from anything already on the UK market. The project must be approved by an approved body.
A Caribbean or Vanuatu passport can be an alternative to a UK visa if the main purpose, of the investor is visa-free travel to the UK.
5 Caribbean countries offer investors the possibility of obtaining citizenship by investment of $100,000 or more. Vanuatu offers a passport for a non-refundable contribution to a public fund of $130,000 or more.
Vanuatu and the Caribbean countries with citizenship programmes are members of the Commonwealth of Nations. Passport holders of these countries are entitled to visa-free entry to the UK. They are allowed to stay in the UK for up to 180 days a year.
Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for the Caribbean and Vanuatu citizenship programmes. If you want a second passport for visa-free travel around the world, seek advice from the experts at Immigrant Invest.