On April 6, 2011, the U.K. Government announced new rules, which allow for an accelerated path to obtaining settlement (ILR, which is permanent residence) through an increased investment. With an investment of £10 million or more, an investor can achieve settlement after 2 years. An investment of £5 million or more provides for settlement after 3 years. Otherwise, the wait time to apply for settlement is currently 5 years. The diagrams below clearly illustrate the distinctions.
An investor must be able to document the fact that s/he has sufficient funds (bank statements, etc.) as well as show that the funds can be transferred to the UK. MSA provides assistance to interested investors with opening individual accounts, depositing the requisite funds, and managing their investments. It should be noted that select renowned banks are able to provide financing using qualified investments as collateral and also provide other banking and investment services. Ultimately, however, the availability of such options is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
A recommended bank can assist the investor in making an investment in UK bonds and gilts (generally considered a stable and risk-averse investment). Alternatively, an investor may choose to structure his/her investor in a securities portfolio.
Application for Dependents
An investor’s spouse and children under the age of 18 years are considered dependents and may apply as dependents. The UK investor visa does not provide for dependent parents. In such cases, the investor’s parents may have to apply for leave to enter the UK under a different visa category, which is very difficult to obtain. Another option is for the parent and other extended family to obtain the St. Kitts and Nevis passport, which would allow them to travel freely into the UK for up to six (6) months at a time. MSA provides assistance in such situations to interested clients.
The criterion for a dependent’s application is proof of adequate funds. Dependents cannot rely on public funds.
- Evidence of lawful source of funds
- Evidence of funds (bank statements etc.)
- External Passport
- Internal passport (if applicable)
- Evidence of address
- Passport copies for dependents’
The investor is expected to submit the application at the British Embassy in his/her country of residence. It is best to take original documents to the Embassy as this is their preference – however, it is also a good idea to take copies of the originals. All documents in foreign languages must also be accurately translated for examination by the UK Border Agency staff.
Upon completing 5 years of continuous lawful residence, an investor may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the U.K. The primary applicant must show that s/he has legally spent a continuous period of 5 years (or 3 or 2 years, respectively – if the larger investment options are selected) in the U.K. and has maintained the conditions required by the permit. Both the primary applicant and his/her dependents must pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test prior to obtaining settlement and show that they possess sufficient knowledge of the English language. The test is usually easily met. There is also a criminality threshold with respect to settlement applications, which requires that all applicants be clear of unspent convictions.
Grant of Citizenship
To qualify for citizenship, the investor and his family must satisfy the residence requirements (i.e. not to have spent more than 450 days outside the UK in the previous 5 years and not to have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the year immediately preceding the application. There is discretion to waive excess absences up to double the above depending on certain factors. The investor must first achieve ILR, typically possible within 5 years, after which s/he can apply for citizenship within 1 year, subject to the previously-mentioned criteria. If the investor’s citizenship is granted, s/he will not be restricted on the amount of time that must be spent in the U.K.
MSA has provided a Summary Chart below for ease of reference.
Moving Forward: The Process Explained
Please contact MSA if you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the UK Immigrant Investor Program. We offer a comprehensive package of services tailored to each client’s needs.
If you decide to participate in the program, you will be asked to sign a Retainer Agreement with MSA. We then start preparing the application and commence a background verification review in support of the application. Next, you will be introduced to relevant third parties including tax advisors, bank specialists, real estate advisors, education consultants, etc. We strongly recommend that all our clients seek out relevant tax advice prior to moving to the UK.
Once the relevant application and supporting documentation have been prepared, MSA makes an appointment on your behalf at the British Embassy. The application and supporting documents must be submitted in person to the British Embassy. Once the application is approved, you (the primary applicant) and your dependent family members will receive visas to reside in the UK for three (3) years. The family must travel to the UK within a certain time period to obtain a stamp at the border post, which validates their residence period. You are also required to register with the police upon arrival to the UK. Upon the expiration of the initial three (3) year period, you must apply for an extension of stay from inside the UK. You should then receive a two (2)-year extension.
Generally speaking, the entire process takes between two (2) to four (4) months from the submission of the application. However, the process can be shorter depending on when the application is submitted and the place at which the application is submitted.