UK says it’s not all about the money. After the closure of the Tier 1 (Investor) category – what options are there for potential investors?

22 February 2022

The Tier 1 (Investor) category was abruptly chopped out of the UK’s immigration system for new applicants at 4pm on 17 February.

After previous and on-going reviews, in what appears to have been a hot-headed moment responding to political tensions with Russia, the category has been closed to new applicants. Deadlines (called ‘sunset clauses’) of 17 February 2026 for extension applications and 17 February 2028 for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) applications have also been introduced for those already holding investor status.

Alternative routes for investors

We anticipate that in the spring the Immigration Rules will undergo significant amendment which will introduce new immigration categories and change some existing categories. Nevertheless, in this blog we seek to highlight a selection of the existing immigration categories that may be attractive to individuals who could have qualified under the investor route.

Global Talent

For individuals who can demonstrate that they have ‘exceptional talent’ or ‘exceptional promise’ in one of the following fields: academia or research, arts and culture or digital technology, the Global Talent visa may be an option available to them.

The route first requires that an individual obtains endorsement by a ‘recognised body’, such as Tech Nation or the Art Council. To qualify applicants must cross a very high threshold to show that they are ‘exceptional’.

 

Skilled Worker

For those who wish to set-up and work in the UK, the Skilled Worker route may be a viable option. Before sponsoring a worker, a UK business must obtain from the Home Office a sponsor licence.

Current guidance does not preclude the owners of businesses being sponsored by their own UK business nor do the Immigration Rules specify that a role must be full-time (although it must satisfy a genuineness measure and a minimum salary requirement). The applicant must also demonstrate that they have a good knowledge of English.

A sticking point for some businesses when applying for a sponsor licence is that an individual permanently based in the UK and either an employee or office holder (e.g. a director) must be appointed to act as an Authorising Officer. The Authorising Officer is the person ultimately responsible for the sponsor licence and the company’s compliance with its sponsor duties to UKVI.

Our guide to Skilled Worker and sponsor licence applications has further information.

 

Representative of an overseas business

For senior employees of an overseas company being sent to the UK to set up a branch or subsidiary of the parent entity, a representative of an overseas business (also known as a sole representative) visa may be a viable immigration option.

A notable drawback of the category is that the person transferring to the UK must not be a majority shareholder of the overseas parent entity. The individual must also intend to work full-time for the business.

From spring 2022 there are plans for an overhaul of the representative of an overseas business category - with it being replaced by the Global Business Mobility route.  Depending on the final details of the new category, there may be benefits in applying before the spring.

 

Innovator

In the Home Office’s press release announcing the removal of the investor category it referred to planned changes to the Innovator category from autumn 2022. Although relatively new, the innovator category has proven to be not very accessible or appealing as it requires endorsement from an endorsing body and includes tough requirements to potentially obtain settlement at the end of a period of residence. That said, it may be a good option for those looking to start a business in the UK.

We will need to wait to see whether improvements are made to this category, especially the planned provision for “investment-related migration” for those “with a track record of investment activity overseas and credible plans to engage in such activity.”

 

Visitors

For those who wish to spend a short period of time in the UK, entry as a visitor may be an option.  However, aside from closely-defined permitted business activities, visitors in the UK cannot work.  It is also not a suitable route for those looking to make the UK their main home and frequent and successive trips to the UK as a visitor may lead to refusal of entry.

 

Parent of a child student

Where a family has a child aged between 4 and 11 studying in the UK at an independent fee-paying school, one of the child’s parents can enter the UK to care for them.  For some families this route can provide a useful option for a parent to reside in the UK, although they would not have a right to work.

 

In summary

One of the most appealing features of the investor route was that individuals could invest money into the UK and did not have to work or have UK earnings. Following the removal of the investor category, the bottom line is that for those who wish to potentially acquire immigration status in the UK without working, there really is currently no longer an immigration category that provides the same level of flexibility.

Routes into the UK for those who wish to work and to be economically active are available.

As mentioned above, from the spring sweeping changes are expected to existing immigration categories with the addition of new categories.

Over the coming weeks, we will be setting out, in further details, how these routes might offer viable options for those who had been contemplating the investor visa. We will also be setting out what we think a future immigration system should look like.

FURTHER INFORMATION

If you have any queries in relation to the above content, please contact a member of the immigration team.  For existing Tier 1 (Investor) visa holders, we remain on hand to assist with extension and settlement applications, as well as applications to become British.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORs

Katie Newbury is a Partner in the immigration team and has over 10 years' experience across a wide spectrum of UK immigration matters, with particular expertise in applications made under Tier 1 of the Points Based System and complex personal immigration matters.   She regularly provides commentary on the workings of the UK Immigration Rules and is often involved in lobbying the Home Office, including in relation to the design of a future post-Brexit UK immigration system.

Robert Houchill is a Senior Associate in the Immigration team, and has extensive experience of assisting individuals wishing to relocate to the UK with their immigration and nationality matters. His experience covers all kinds of immigration and nationality applications but with a particular emphasis on corporate immigration matters, helping high net worth individuals and partners of British citizens or those with indefinite leave to remain.

 

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