The UK continues to be an attractive prospect for wealthy foreign nationals and the Tier 1 investor route is proving to be a popular option. The Office for National statistics recently published figures showing a sharp increase in the number of Tier 1 investor visas applications granted in 2017. In total 274 visas were granted in 2017 compared to 215 being issued in 2016.
The Tier 1 investor visa allows high net worth individuals to reside in the UK by way of making a substantial financial investment of £2 million or more in government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies. The route leads to settlement (or Indefinite Leave to remain) in the UK for the main applicant and his or her family members.
The increase may not be surprising as the Tier 1 Investor route presents clear benefits to prospective applicants. The obvious advantage is the potential for accelerated route to settlement. The applicant may qualify for settlement after two years, based on the level of investment made. Ordinarily the applicant has to wait until they lawfully complete five or ten years of residence in the UK.
The other distinct advantage is there is no maintenance requirement under the rules. In other routes such as the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route the applicant and respective family members need to maintain a certain level of funds in their account for a continuous period of 90 days. Similarly there is no English language proficiency requirement for the main applicant when making the application. There is also no requirement to have previous business experience and the applicant can study and obtain employment in the in the UK during the course of their visa term.
Lately there have been calls to tighten the rules following from the Salisbury poisoning incident, with Theresa May asking for a full review of the existing regulations in this area. However the statistics now appear to show signs that this will slow down.
It is fair to assume that the number of applications granted will continue to rise in 2018 and possibly surpass the numbers reached in 2017.