How to Get UK Residency & Citizenship by Investment

How to Get UK Residency & Citizenship by Investment

Mar 21, 2024
Last Updated on May 29, 2024

UK Citizenship by Investment

In 2024, the UK remains an ever-popular destination for overseas investors who wish to invest and grow their capital. In large part, this is due to the enormous opportunities of establishing a new and innovative business to tap into the UK and European markets. Understandably, many overseas investors dream of gaining citizenship in the UK by investment, allowing them to remain for the rest of their lives and bring their family members with them. While it is not possible to gain British citizenship immediately by investing in the UK, it is possible to get on a fast track to citizenship by choosing the right visa route. In this guide, we will explain how you can get UK residency by investment and citizenship by investment in London or any other part of the UK.

Investing in the UK and Possible Routes to British Citizenship

The traditional way that overseas investors could gain UK nationality by investment was through the Tier 1 Investor Visa (sometimes called the ‘Golden visa’). This route is no longer open to new applicants, but existing visa holders can still extend their stay. Likewise, the old Entrepreneur and Start-up visas, which were designed to encourage overseas investors to establish a new business in the UK, have also been closed to new applications. The good news is that there is another way to get UK citizenship by investment, as we explain in the next chapter.

What Visas are Available to Investors?

While there is no longer a Tier 1 Investor Visa in the UK, the Entrepreneur and Startup visas have been replaced by the Innovator Founder Visa. The UK Innovator Founder Visa allows overseas entrepreneurs and investors to set up a new innovative business in the UK and settle after just 3 years. This provides a fast track to British citizenship, given that holders of other visa types normally have to wait for at least 5 years before applying. 

To qualify for an Innovator Founder Visa, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a new, unique, innovative and scalable business idea
  • Have your business idea endorsed by an approved body, and
  • Meet the English language requirement (level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages scale)

Most importantly, you will need to demonstrate that you have enough funds (and show the source of the funds) to establish your new venture. There is no minimum level of investment funds needed; what matters is that you have enough to get your business off the ground. You will not need to show proof of investment funds if your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa or if you have changed your business and already agreed this with your endorsing body.

Gaining PR by investment in the UK

If your Innovator Founder visa is approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), you will be able to stay for an initial period of 3 years, at which point you can extend your visa or apply for permanent residency (PR), also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain. To gain PR by investment in the UK through the Innovator Founder Visa route, you will need to demonstrate to UKVI that:

  • You have lived lawfully in the UK for at least 3 years on an Innovator Founder or Innovator visa. It is important to note that you cannot include time spent in the UK using any other visa.
  • You have received a new endorsement for your business from an approved endorsing body – this must show that you have grown your business in the last 3 years (see below for more details on gaining endorsement for your PR application).
  • You have passed the Knowledge of Life in the UK test if you are aged between 18 and 64 and
  • You have not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period during the 3 years before you apply (this is the continuous residence period). 

You can submit your application for ILR up to 28 days before you become eligible. It is important not to apply earlier than 28 days because your application may be refused.

Gaining business endorsement for PR

There are strict requirements that must be met before you apply for PR on the basis of your Innovator Founder Visa. Firstly, your business venture must be properly registered with Companies House, and you must be a director or member of the company. Your company must also be currently actively trading and must be able to continue to do so for the next 12 months. The rules also state that you must be able to demonstrate that you meet at least 2 of the following requirements:

  • Invested at least £50,000 on developing your business
  • Doubled the number of customers in the last 3 years. The number of customers must be higher than the average for similar businesses
  • Applied for intellectual property protection in the UK, if necessary
  • Made £1 million in revenue in the last full year covered by accounts
  • Made £500,000 in revenue in the last full year covered by accounts, with £100,000 from exporting overseas
  • Created the equivalent of 10 full-time jobs that have existed for at least 12 months, or
  • Created the equivalent of 5 full-time jobs that have existed for at least 12 months, with an average salary of £25,000 a year.

Become a British Citizen 

Once you have PR, after 12 months, you can apply for British citizenship. This means that the total amount of time between arriving in the UK and gaining citizenship is 4 years. Once you have British citizenship, you will have the full rights and privileges of a person who was born in the UK, including the right to vote and claim benefits. 

What is the Self-Sponsorship Route?

The Self-Sponsorship route is an increasingly popular UK immigration route that allows foreign nationals to relocate to the UK without needing to work for an employer but rather by setting up their own company. The Self-Sponsorship route provides a direct pathway to permanent settlement in the UK and, after a further 12 months, British citizenship. If you need any information on self-sponsorship, speak to an immigration Solicitor who can guide you through the process. 

A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!

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