WHY THE UK REMAINS ONE OF THE MOST DISTINGUISHED AND ATTRACTIVE CBI PROGRAMS
The UK Tier 1 Investor program has, over the past years of its existence, brought in a steady revenue. The program continues to attract wealthy non-EU applicants into the UK who, in exchange for a £2 million investment in the UK economy, receive a visa for 3 years and 4 months and a chance to experience living and working in the UK. Providing that the right investment was made, its value preserved and residency requirements were met, an investor and their family (unlimited dependents up to the age of 18) can receive a visa extension for a further 2 years and subsequently permanent residency.
Unlike the UK Entrepreneur program the UK Investor offers a much easier route to British citizenship, because of the concept of an investment-i.e. this is a purely passive investment which only requires maintenance of the investment for the duration of the time that visa is held. It therefore does not require a language test, proof of further financial ability to support oneself and one’s dependents, nor a proven track record of experience and the relevant skills necessary to conduct such business activities.
However the rules on how the money must be invested and what it can be invested into are strict and are responsible for many applications being declined. For a qualifying UK Tier 1 investment evidence needs to be given that the funds are held in the client’s bank account (onshore or offshore) for at least 3 months prior to visa being granted. The funds also need to be transferred to a third party – i.e. custodian or a wealth consultant for investment strategies and investment into UK gilds, UK bonds and UK equities within the first 90 days. A statement of all transactions must be provided with the application. The investment must also be maintained at the level of GBP 2 million throughout the entire investment period and must be topped up by an investor whenever it falls below the GBP2 million threshold. Non-compliance will certainly jeopardise investor’s residency eligibility and visa extension.
Under the program, an applicant has the flexibility of staying in the UK for only 6 months each year that the visa is awarded for (less in the last year prior to application for a permanent residence), and therefore can travel between their home country and the UK to oversee their main business activities. However, if their business requires more attention at home and he is unable to commit to the residency rule, an investor’s spouse can become a principal applicant for the purposes of UK Investor Visa instead allowing the investor to ‘commute’ between countries without him fearing loss of residency due to insufficient days spent in the UK annually.
Providing that the investor did not spend more than 450 days outside of UK over 5 years and no more than 90 days in the last year (year 5), has been a resident in the UK for 5 years in total and have not been in breach of any Immigration rules, they can be eligible for British citizenship at year 6.
Despite the increase in investment value which saw the requirement going up from £1 million to £2 million and restricted benefits for wealthy non domiciles, the Home Office still reports a reasonable amount of applications being submitted. The Chinese, Russian, US and Middle Eastern investors and their families are still very much attracted to the settled but rewarding lifestyle, enviable tax concessions, highly developed financial sector, sophisticated and varied cultural scene, world class private education system and not to mention an opportunity to run a business (if desired) in one of the world’s most prestigious business platforms.
One cannot doubt that the UK is still the best relocation option for any high net worth individual looking for a safe and stable country to do business and to bring up a family. Although the UK Investor program has some competition in EU that provide similar investment programs, it is the reputable democracy with rule of law, quality of life and business and working opportunities that other countries offering citizenship programs simply lack.