The UK Home Secretary took action to shut the Tier 1 Investor visa route to all new applicants from all nationalities with immediate effect on 17 February 2022. The Tier 1 Investor route for wealthy foreign investors has been closed by the UK government amid security concerns as part of a tougher stance on immigration and foreign investment in the UK. The closure does not impact migrants who already hold the status and need to submit extension applications, although applications for leave to remain and indefinite leave to remain will need to be filed by 17 February 2026 and 17 February 2028, respectively.
This visa route opened in 2008 and offered foreign nationals the opportunity to apply for indefinite leave to remain after a shorter residency period than usual, depending on the value of the UK investment. While anyone investing £2 million would qualify for indefinite leave after five years, those who invested more than £5 million would get the right to apply after three years. Similarly, anyone who invested more than £10 million would get the right to apply for indefinite leave to remain after just two years. Foreign nationals in alternative visa categories typically qualify for indefinite leave to remain after five or 10 years, with no route to fast track this status.
For foreign nationals looking to invest, set up a business or work in the UK, some alternatives to the investor visa include:
- the start-up visa for entrepreneurs who want to set up a business in the UK. An approved endorsing body must sponsor the application;
- the innovator visa for more established entrepreneurs who plan to set up a new scalable and innovative business in the UK. An approved endorsing body must also sponsor this visa;
- the global talent visa for those with a range of “talents” or promise within academia or research, arts and culture, or digital technology sectors; and
- the sole representative visa designed for the sole representative of an overseas business who is tasked to set up the first UK branch or subsidiary company of an overseas-based parent company.
The Home Office statement added that, following the closure of the investor route, it will be reforming the innovator route, with settlement to be conditional on applicants executing an investment strategy that can show genuine job creation and other tangible economic impacts.
As a result of the Home Secretary’s announcement, it will no longer be possible to obtain settlement rights in the UK by passively holding UK investments.