Since the Home Office scrapped the Tier 1 (Investor) visa in 2022, a replacement visa route is yet to be introduced to enable HNWIs to move to the UK just by making a substantial investment. Consequently, it is not surprising that there were 1,600 more HNWIs who emigrated from the UK than those who relocated to the UK in 2022 (according to the Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2023).
Across the globe, there are different types of residency or citizenship by investment programs available. These programs often require the applicant to make a minimum amount of investment in real estate, bonds or shares, or even an outright donation to the government in some cases. However, based on the Home Secretary's statement in January 2023, it is unlikely that the current UK government will rush into re-introducing a visa category which is solely based on the applicant making a passive investment due to the cross-border money laundering risks that are involved.
Visa by investment
Despite the lack of a "golden visa" route in the UK, entrepreneurial HNWIs can still apply for a visa by investing in UK businesses. If the applicant wants to establish a new, innovative business, then they can consider the new Innovator Founder route (which essentially replaced the Start-up and Innovator routes and their predecessors, the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and (Entrepreneur) visas). The key criteria for the Innovator Founder route are as follows:
- the applicant must be establishing a new, innovative, viable and scalable business;
- the applicant has been granted an "endorsement letter";
- there is no minimum fund requirement (which applied to the old routes).
Currently, there are only 4 endorsing bodies on the Home Office list, who are responsible to verify the following points on the endorsement letter:
- the applicant is considered a "fit and proper" person under the Innovator Founder rules;
- they have no concerns over the legitimacy of sources or transfer of funds invested in the business;
- they have no reason to believe that the applicant or their business may be the beneficiary of illicit or otherwise unsatisfactorily explained wealth.
Alternatively, if the applicant is already involved in a more established UK business, then the Skilled Worker visa could also be an option.
How can we help?
Burges Salmon's specialists have substantial experience in immigration, tax, trusts, and estate planning for international clients. If you wish to discuss any of the matters raised in this article, please do get in touch with Suzanna Harvey, Myra Leung or your usual contact within the team.
The Government is clear that any future visa route to facilitate investment-based migration must not offer entry solely on the basis of the applicant’s personal wealth.