Investor visa closes to new applicants

On 17 February 2022 at 4pm without warning, the Investor visa route closed to new applicants. In this article we provide a summary of alternative routes.

What happened?

The Home Office closed the Investor visa route to all new applicants. Reasons quoted include security concerns, the legitimacy of some wealth acquisition and public perception of wider corruption.

Previously, the Home Office also queried whether passive investment in UK companies added any material or tangible value to the UK economy. The Home Office is silent on the wider benefits deriving from any ancillary influx of wealth (property acquisitions, tax revenue, expenditure on services etc).

Impact on current Investor visa holders

This closure does not apply to current Investor visa holders (and their family members).

They will continue to hold valid UK immigration permission, assuming they comply with the original rules.

Those who submitted applications before the closure of the route will still have their applications processed in line with the Investor visa requirements. Dependants of Investor migrants can still apply to join the Investor migrant in the UK.

Important deadlines

The last date (for current Investors) to file:

  • an extension application is 17 February 2026; and
  • an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is 17 February 2028.

For those looking to obtain ILR, they must start meeting the residence requirement by 17 February 2023 (if under the £2m investment route), 17 February 2025 (if under the £5m investment route), or 17 February 2026 (if under the £10m investment route) at the latest. Investors should make preparations before those long-stop dates.

Residence requirement: the applicant must not be outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 months during the qualifying five, three or two year period prior to applying for ILR.

To continue to live in the UK, applicants who cannot meet the requirements for ILR will need to switch into another UK immigration category before 17 February 2028.

Possible developments

The Home Office has previously closed routes only to create a new "rebranded" route very similar to the predecessor route. Although it is too early to say with certainty, we speculate that a route similar to the Investor visa may be introduced in the future.

The Home Office has announced that the current Innovator route, previously known as Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), may be reformed and expanded to provide a route for active Investors who can link their investment to job creation and other tangible economic benefits to the UK. More details are expected toward the end of 2022.

Workarounds: alternative routes for high-net-worth individuals

  • Innovator – for those who wish to set up and run a viable business and make a minimum £50,000 investment. Read our separate article on this route for full details.
  • Skilled Worker – for those who wish to work in the UK and will be sponsored by a UK employer. Read our separate article on this route for full details.
  • Global Talent – for those who are endorsed as having an exceptional talent in a relevant field. Read our separate article on this route for full details.
  • Student/parent of a child student – for those who wish to study in the UK. A parent of a child who is on a Student visa and under the age of 12 can come to the UK with the child.
  • Dependant/Family – for those with a partner who holds UK immigration permission or British citizenship/ILR.
  • Ancestry – for Commonwealth citizens who have a grandparent who was born in the UK.
  • British Nationality (Overseas) (BNO) – for those who hold BNO citizenship and can support themselves in the UK. Read our separate article on this route for full details.
  • Visitor – for those who do not wish to work or permanently reside in the UK and plan to stay in the UK no more than four to six months in any 12-month period. This route is subject to considerable scrutiny by officers at the border or UK Visas and Immigration.
  • EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) – for EEA nationals and qualifying family members of EEA nationals. Although the deadline for most applications under the EUSS has passed, there are exceptions.
  • Irish investor programme – €1m investment in the Republic of Ireland grants visa free travel to the UK as the two countries are part of the Common Travel Area.

How we can assist

UK immigration is a politically sensitive issue and the UK Government is constantly changing the law that applies to non-settled nationals who wish to obtain UK immigration permission to live in the UK.

If you would like further information or specific advice, please contact us.

 

This article was co-authored by trainee solicitor Anske Venter.

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