News - UK

UK - March 2022

UK – Investor route to a visa closed for those with £2m to invest – but alternatives remain for those wanting to invest in the UK

With the spotlight on wealthy Russians having used the Investor route as a quick path to settlement in the UK the Home Office closed this visa route to new applicants with immediate effect on 17 February 2022.

Existing Investor migrants will be able to extend their visas and apply to settle, provided they meet the Rules, but it is to be expected that there will be greater scrutiny of people seeking to stay in the UK based on money they have invested.

So, the question arises what alternatives are there for people who had a minimum of £2 million to invest in the UK?

Innovator Visa

Firstly, the Home Office have stated that it will amend the often-criticised Innovator visa route to provide an investment-related migration option in autumn 2022. At present to qualify on this path you must show:

  • you want to set up and run an innovative new business in the UK - it must be something that’s different from anything else on the market
  • your business or business idea has been endorsed by an approved body, also known as an endorsing body
  • you meet the other eligibility criteria including the English language criteria and being able to prove you have enough personal savings to support yourself
  • You have investment funds of £50,000 available

Under this route you can qualify for settlement after 3 years.

Start-up Visa

To be eligible for this visa your business must be endorsed by an approved body, which for this route is either a UK higher education authority or a business organisation which supports entrepreneurs.

Your business must also be:

  • innovative - you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
  • viable, with potential for growth

There is no requirement for investment funds to be available.

These visas are valid for 2 years and if you want to stay longer you would have to switch to an Innovator visa or another work route.

Representative of An Overseas Business Visa

To apply on this route a business must have no presence in the UK. It will need to be headquartered overseas and want to establish itself in the UK but keep its headquarters overseas.

The business must choose an employee to represent it who holds a senior position and has full authority to make decisions on its behalf in the UK.  The chosen individual must be an existing employee and have relevant industry experience. They cannot be a majority shareholder of the business; they might have founded the business but in that case must now own less than 50% of it.

Conclusion

Once again, the Home Office have acted quickly without fully thinking through the situation. They have closed a path, first introduced in 1994, where Russian applicants made up only about 10% of applications in recent years.

There is no ready replacement to the Investor visa, and it will be at least 6 months until one of the other routes is changed to attract investors. We will have to wait and see what takes its place.

Find out more

This article was produced by Jonathan Martin, Senior Consultant, at Abbiss Cadress, England, UK, a CELIA Alliance member firm.

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