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Citizenship by investment in the UK

Citizenship by investment in the UK

The United Kingdom offers the Tier 1 Investor Visa, also known as UK Citizenship by Investment, which provides global investors with an opportunity to establish themselves in the country. With attractive living conditions, a thriving job market, and prestigious universities, the UK is an enticing destination. This visa serves as a fast-track pathway to British citizenship, and this guide will cover the investor visa's details, investment requirements, and a step-by-step process to becoming a UK citizen.

Meaning of citizenship by investment in the UK

UK Citizenship By Investment refers to the program offered by the UK government, commonly known as the 'UK Golden Visa,' which enables high net worth individuals to obtain residency in the UK. This program allows for eventual citizenship through investment in the nation's economic growth. 

To be eligible for the visa, applicants must invest a specified amount of money and maintain the investment throughout their permanent residence in the UK. The investment must be made in active and trading UK-registered companies. While there are other citizenship by investment programs governed by different immigration laws, the UK stands out due to its strong economic system and high living standards.

The United Kingdom Citizenship By Investment program is an attractive option for individuals due to the strategic connections the country has with European markets, the United States, and Hong Kong. With top-notch state and private schools, a thriving business infrastructure, and abundant job opportunities, the United Kingdom offers a coveted lifestyle for expatriates and high net worth individuals. Although the immigration rules for obtaining British residency are thorough, successful investors can gain the privilege of living in the UK and experiencing unparalleled freedoms.

Qualifications for acquiring the UK Investor Visa

To be eligible for the UK Investor Visa and obtain settlement in the UK, it is necessary to make a qualifying investment in the country's capital. This can be in the form of share capital or loan capital in active UK-based companies. It is important to note that specific requirements must be met, and the timeline for acquiring residency may vary based on the minimum investment amount.

All about the Tier 1 investor Visa

The Tier 1 Investor Visa, which falls under the UK Citizenship By Investment program, offers several investment routes with corresponding timelines to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain (permanent residency) based on the investment amount. Investing at least £2,000,000 allows for settlement in 5 years, while investing £5,000,000 enables settlement in 3 years, and £10,000,000 accelerates the process to 2 years.

To qualify, the investment funds must remain in a designated bank account for two years, or evidence of having sufficient funds must be provided during the visa application. It's important to note that certain UK financial institutions may conduct additional due diligence checks to verify the legitimacy of the investment funds. The initial investor visa is granted for three years and four months, with the possibility of a two-year extension if the investment is maintained.

Please note that if the investment was made before March 29, 2019, and includes government bonds, a settlement application must be submitted by April 6, 2025.

Additional information of the Tier 1 investor visa

The Tier 1 Investor Visa, considered the fastest route to UK citizenship by investment in 2022, offers several key details:

- Investment: A minimum investment of £2,000,000 or more is required.

- Visa Cost: The visa application fee is £1,623.

- Validity: The initial visa is valid for 3 years and 4 months. If applied for within the UK, it is valid for 3 years.

- Permanent Residence: Eligibility for permanent residency is possible after 5 years.

- Renewal: Visa renewal options are available for an additional 2+ years.

- Expedited Permanent Residence: Investments of £10,000,000 lead to permanent residence after 2 years, while investments of £5,000,000 lead to it after 3 years.

- English Language Requirement: There is no requirement for English language knowledge.

The UK Tier 1 Investor Visa is a residency by investment program that allows non-EU high-net-worth investors to obtain UK citizenship by making a significant financial investment and residing in the country.

Visa applications are processed by British consulates abroad within three weeks, while applications made within the UK have an extended deadline of eight weeks. A Priority Service option, costing approximately £500, ensures a quicker processing time of five working days.

Upon arrival in the UK, applicants initially receive a 30-day Tier 1 visa, followed by a biometric residence permit valid for 40 months. Within three months of arrival, investors are required to invest £2,000,000 in corporate shares or bonds issued by UK companies affiliated with the program.

Investments can be made in UK government bonds, as well as share or loan capital in UK-registered enterprises. Investments in real estate investment companies and offshore companies are not allowed.

The Tier 1 Investor Visa does not have specific criteria regarding English language proficiency or previous business experience. Investors and their family members are granted the right to live, work, and study in the UK.

Investors can renew their visa for an additional two years if needed, with the requirement of maintaining their investment for 40 months before seeking an extension. After five years of residence, investors and their family members can apply for permanent residency, provided they have spent at least 186 days per year in the UK during the preceding 12 months.

The permanent residency application process takes up to six months. Accelerated services include the Priority Service (within five days) and the Super Priority Service (within 24 hours), incurring additional fees. Fees for permanent residency applications range from £2,389 per individual to £800 for the Super Priority Service.

Investors can obtain permanent residency in two years by investing £10,000,000 or in three years by investing £5,000,000. Only the main applicant can expedite the process by increasing the investment amount.

To apply for UK citizenship, investors, their spouses, and children under 18 can apply one year after gaining permanent residency. During this period, it is important not to leave the UK for more than 90 days. The application fee for UK citizenship by investment is approximately £1,330 per person.

Requirements to acquiring the UK investor visa

The UK Innovator Visa serves as an alternative to the investor visa and is designed for entrepreneurs. To qualify for the Innovator visa, the following requirements must be met:

  • Possess a minimum of £50,000 to invest in and operate your business.
  • Present a viable business idea that is endorsed by a recognized endorsing body in the UK or an approved body.
  • Submit a comprehensive business plan along with evidence of your involvement, qualifications, and experience in running a business.
  • Provide proof of sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents in the UK.
  • Commit to employing at least two individuals in your business.
  • Demonstrate English language proficiency at the upper intermediate (B2) level.

The Innovator visa can lead to settlement in the UK after three years if all eligibility requirements are fulfilled. However, it's important to note that while the Innovator visa allows for working in the UK, it does not automatically grant immediate residency.

Other Visa alternatives

Another alternative to the investor visa and Innovator visa is the Sole Representative of Overseas Business Visa, which offers the following details:

- Investment: No investment is required.

- Visa Cost: The visa fee starts at £620 if paid outside the UK.

- Validity: The initial visa is valid for 3 years.

- Permanent Residence: Eligibility for permanent residency is possible after 5 years.

- Renewal: Visa renewal options are available for an additional 2+ years, with the possibility of repeated renewals.

- Expedited Permanent Residence: There is no expedited process for obtaining permanent residency.

- English Language Requirement: Applicants need to demonstrate listening and speaking skills at the A1 level.

The Sole Representative of Overseas Business Visa is intended for senior executives of foreign companies who are appointed to work in the UK for an extended period. It is applicable to individuals representing foreign firms that did not have a commercial presence in the UK before.

Sole representatives are not allowed to work as doctors without specific education or experience in a related area, work for themselves or another employer, qualify for government subsidies and benefits, or work as professional athletes or coaches.

Visa applications can be submitted up to three months before departure, and approvals are typically issued within three weeks. There is no expedited document review service available for this visa category.

Applicants must establish a registered office in the UK, but a physical office is not required if the work involves remote tasks. The applicant must make decisions on behalf of the company but not be the dominant shareholder or own more than 51% of the share capital.

Financial viability must be demonstrated, although the exact minimum amount is not defined in the legislation and is based on factors such as rental, housing, market prices, and food costs. For example, in 2021, the minimum amount for an applicant's residency was £18,600 per year.

The Sole Representative Visa can be obtained by the applicant's spouse and children under 18. The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) must be paid by the applicant and their family members before filing for their visas. The IHS cost is fully refundable in case of visa refusal.

Applicants must pass the A1 level English language test in Elementary Listening and Speaking, unless they hold a bachelor's or master's degree in English, which exempts them from this requirement.

Applying for Permanent Residency

Candidates and their family members can apply for permanent residency, also known as the UK Golden Visa, after five years of residing in the UK. They must have spent at least 186 days in the UK within a year to be eligible. The application fee for permanent residency is £2,389 per individual, and the UK Department reviews all documents for up to six months. There is no accelerated processing service available for this visa category.

To be granted permanent residency, the applicant and adult family members must pass the UK history and social order exam. Candidates under the age of 65 are required to complete an oral English exam up to the CEFR level B1.

Applying for Citizenship

One year after obtaining permanent residency, the applicant, their spouse, and children under 18 can apply for UK citizenship. During this period, they should not spend more than 90 days outside the UK. The application fee for UK citizenship is £1,330 per individual.


To be eligible for the UK Investor Visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:

- The main applicant must be at least 18 years old.

- The main applicant must be in good health.

- Both the criminal and immigration records of the main applicant should be clean.

- Sufficient funds must be available for investment in the UK under the investor visa program.

- The source of the funds must be legitimate.

- The funds must be held in one or more regulated financial institutions.

- The funds should be considered disposable in the UK.

- Biometric details must be submitted to obtain a biometric residence permit.

One notable advantage of the investor program is that there is no requirement to pass an English language test to obtain the investor visa. However, this requirement becomes necessary if the intention is to pursue citizenship.

Advantages of the UK citizenship

Advantages of the UK citizenship

UK citizenship offers numerous benefits to individuals who hold it. Some key advantages of UK citizenship include:

1. Right to live, work, and study

 UK citizens have the right to reside, work, and study in the UK without any immigration restrictions. They can freely pursue employment opportunities and access public services and benefits.

2. Political participation

 Citizens can participate in the democratic process by voting in general elections and local elections, thereby having a say in shaping the country's future and policies.

3. Travel freedom

UK citizens enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to a wide range of countries worldwide. They can travel freely within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) countries, benefiting from the freedom of movement.

4. Social security benefits

Citizens are entitled to various social security benefits, including healthcare services provided by the National Health Service (NHS), unemployment benefits, and pension schemes.

5. Education and student support

 UK citizens have access to quality education at renowned universities and can benefit from lower tuition fees compared to international students. They can also access financial support and scholarships offered to UK citizens.

6. Consular assistance

 UK citizens receive consular protection and assistance from British embassies or consulates when travelling or residing abroad, ensuring support in case of emergencies, legal issues, or lost passports.

7. Dual citizenship

 The UK allows dual citizenship, enabling individuals to retain their previous citizenship while also enjoying the benefits and privileges of UK citizenship.

8. Public services and welfare

 Citizens have access to a wide range of public services, including healthcare, social welfare programs, housing assistance, and public education.

9. Employment opportunities

 UK citizenship can enhance career prospects, as certain job positions may require British citizenship, particularly in government sectors or roles involving security clearance.

10. Sense of belonging and identity

 Citizenship provides a sense of belonging, identity, and cultural connection to the United Kingdom, allowing individuals to fully integrate into the society and community.

It's important to note that the specific benefits and entitlements may be subject to change or eligibility criteria, and individuals should refer to the relevant government authorities for the most up-to-date information.

Various steps to obtaining UK citizenship

Here is a step-by-step guide to obtaining UK citizenship:

Step 1

Determine eligibility: Check if you meet the eligibility requirements for UK citizenship. This typically includes having legal residence in the UK for a certain period, demonstrating good character, and meeting language and knowledge requirements.

Step 2

Apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain): If you are not already a permanent resident, you need to apply for settlement, also known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR). The requirements for ILR may vary based on your immigration status and circumstances.

Step 3

 Meet the residence requirements: Ensure you meet the residence requirements for UK citizenship. Generally, you must have lived in the UK for a specified continuous period, usually at least five years.

Step 4

Language and knowledge requirements: If applicable, fulfil the language and knowledge requirements. This usually involves passing the Life in the UK test, which assesses your knowledge of British history, culture, and government. Additionally, you may need to demonstrate proficiency in the English language.

Step 5

Complete the application form: Fill out the relevant application form for UK citizenship. Provide accurate information and include all necessary supporting documents, such as proof of identity, residence, and other required documentation.

Step 6

Submit the application: Send your completed application form and supporting documents to the appropriate authority, such as the Home Office or UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Pay the required application fee.

Step 7

Attend the citizenship ceremony (if applicable): If your application is successful, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. This is a formal event where you will take an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the UK.

Step 8

Receive the citizenship certificate: After attending the citizenship ceremony, you will be presented with a certificate of British citizenship. This is an official document confirming your status as a UK citizen.

Step 9

Apply for a British passport: Once you have received your citizenship certificate, you can apply for a British passport, which serves as a travel document and proof of UK citizenship.

Note: The process and requirements may vary depending on your individual circumstances, such as whether you are applying based on birth, descent, or naturalisation. It is advisable to consult official government resources and seek professional advice to ensure accurate and up-to-date information specific to your situation.

Time taken to acquiring British citizenship

The application process timeline for British citizenship by investment is as follows:

Month 1: Submit the citizenship application, including all required documents and supporting evidence.

Month 2: Visit a visa centre to submit biometric data, including fingerprints and a photograph.

Month 3: Obtain UK residency, typically through the initial investor visa or other relevant visa categories.

Year 3: Renew the permanent residency status, ensuring compliance with the renewal requirements and maintaining the necessary investment or other eligibility criteria.

Year 5: Apply for UK citizenship. This involves submitting the citizenship application, meeting the residence requirements, passing language and knowledge tests (such as the Life in the UK test), and fulfilling any other specific criteria for naturalisation.

It's important to note that the processing times may vary depending on the individual circumstances, the complexity of the case, and the workload of the relevant government authorities responsible for processing citizenship applications. The timeline provided above is a general estimate and should be considered as a guideline. It's advisable to consult official government resources or seek professional advice for accurate and up-to-date information regarding the application process and timelines for British citizenship by investment.

Requirements to obtaining the Investor Visa

To obtain the investor visa, the Home Office requires the following documentation, although it's important to note that UK visa application requirements can change and consulting a legal advisor is recommended to ensure compliance with current regulations:

  • Valid Passport or Identification: A valid passport with at least one blank page, or an alternative form of identification suitable for travel purposes.
  • Criminal Record Certificate: A criminal record certificate to demonstrate a clean criminal record.
  • Evidence of Funds: Documentation showing the amount of funds available and where they are held. This is crucial to meet the financial requirements of the investor visa.
  • Source of Funds: Confirmation of the source of the funds, particularly if they have been held for less than two years. This helps establish the legitimacy of the funds.
  • Funds Conversion and Transfer: Proof that the funds can be converted into pounds sterling and are transferable to the UK if they are currently held outside of the country.
  • UK Bank Account: Evidence of having a bank account with a UK regulated financial institution, indicating that the applicant has made necessary arrangements for financial transactions in the UK.

It is important to note that applicants from certain countries may be required to undergo a tuberculosis test and provide the test results to the Home Office as part of the investor visa application process. Additionally, if any of the application documents are not in English or Welsh, a certified translation is required.

Please be aware that the specific requirements and documentation may be subject to change, and it is advisable to consult official government resources or seek guidance from qualified advisors to ensure accurate and up-to-date information relevant to your individual circumstances.

Obtaining a British Citizenship

Acquiring British citizenship through the UK investor visa is possible, although it is not an immediate outcome. Citizenship by naturalisation can be pursued after a period of five to six years. To be eligible for British citizenship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Residence Period: You must have resided in the UK for at least five years, or if settled under the accelerated route, for five years.
  • Life in the UK Test: You must pass the Life in the UK test, which assesses your knowledge of British culture, history, and government.
  • English Language Requirement: You must meet the English language requirement by demonstrating proficiency in speaking and understanding English.
  • Good Moral Character: You must demonstrate good moral character, which includes complying with UK laws and regulations and having a clean criminal record.
  • Absences from the UK: You must not have spent more than 90 days outside of the UK in the 12 months leading up to your citizenship application.

The timeline for successfully acquiring British citizenship is five years if settled under the accelerated route or six years if settled five years after initially entering the UK. It is important to note that these timelines and requirements may vary based on individual circumstances, and it is advisable to consult official government resources or seek professional advice for accurate and up-to-date information specific to your situation.


How do I apply for the UK Investor Visa?

To apply for the UK Investor Visa, also known as the Tier 1 investor visa, you need to make a qualifying investment. There are different investment options available: you can invest £2,000,000 to settle in 5 years, £5,000,000 to settle in 3 years, or £10,000,000 to settle in 2 years. The investment funds must be injected into the loan capital or share capital of active UK-based companies. It's important to note that the visa itself does not automatically lead to permanent settlement in the country. To settle permanently, you must lodge a separate application for Permanent Residence (PR).

Is it possible to obtain British citizenship by buying property?

No, property investment in UK assets cannot be used as the basis for an application for residency or British citizenship.

Do my family members qualify for the investor visa?

Yes, your immediate family members are eligible for the investor visa. They can enjoy the same residency and citizenship rights as you.

Are there any residency requirements for the UK visa?

Yes, as an investor, you are required to spend at least 180 days per year in the UK.

Does the UK recognize dual citizenship?

Yes, there are no restrictions on dual citizenship in the UK.

Can I obtain UK citizenship through investment?

Yes, you can acquire British citizenship through the Tier 1 UK Visa Investor residency program. The timeframe for obtaining citizenship can range from two to five years, depending on your investment. The Tier 1 UK Visa allows high-net-worth non-EU investors with a significant financial stake in the UK's economy to live in the country.

How much do I need to invest in the UK to obtain citizenship?

The minimum investment required is £2,000,000 in qualified UK corporations. You must maintain this investment for permanent residency to be granted. Additionally, you need to demonstrate that the investment funds have been under your custody and control for a minimum of two years.

What is required to obtain British citizenship?

To obtain British citizenship, you need to submit proof of identification, your biometric residence permit (if you have one), proof of at least a B1 level in the English language (speaking, writing, listening, and reading, unless exempt), proof of Indefinite Leave to Remain status, information about your absences from the UK during the qualifying period, and evidence that you have been lawfully living in the UK for the required time period.

Who is ineligible to obtain British citizenship?

Individuals who have violated immigration regulations may be denied citizenship and permanent British residence. This includes those who have violated UK laws, submitted fake documents or concealed information, accessed government subsidies or unauthorized medical care, exceeded the permitted duration of stay on a visa, engaged in illegal work or study, or participated in a sham marriage.

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