UK Investor And Entrepreneur Visa Program Review
Despite its controversial decision to leave the European Union, the UK remains one of the most important and influential countries in the world, and is still a highly desirable location for business people everywhere, particularly from the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe. For any foreign investor or entrepreneur keen to establish themselves in Great Britain and to ultimately become a citizen of that country there is the option of the UK Investor And Entrepreneur Visa Program. Passport Reviewer checked it out.
United Kingdom In A Nutshell
The United Kingdom – also known as the UK and Great Britain – is an island nation in Northwestern Europe, comprising four countries; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is one of the most influential countries in world history and its continued standing as a global power and world economy is so great, despite a century spent shedding its once vast empire, the UK remains one of the world’s five biggest economies.
The British Empire at its peak covered two-thirds of the globe, and saw the spread of Britain’s influence to a vast number of countries it colonized, including the USA, Canada, the Caribbean, India, Australia, most of Africa and the Middle East, and many of those countries still base their legal systems and parliaments on the original models laid out by the British.
Great Britain has set the standard globally in terms of law, politics and diplomacy. A country of tremendous contrasts, the UK has been and continues to be a major military power and involved in most of the 20th and 21st centuries’ wars, and yet is also one of the world’s leading contributors to the arts, in particular cinema, music and literature.
The UK is the world’s fifth largest economy behind the USA, China, Japan and Germany, all of which are larger, more populous countries. In 2015 the UK was the world’s ninth largest exporter of goods, and the sixth largest importer, making it one of the most globalized of economies. The services industry (creative industries, education, health, finance, business, etc) accounts for almost 80% of the UK’s economy, followed by production, construction and agriculture.
Tourism is also a major contributor to the UK economy, and despite it’s often miserable weather, Great Britain is the eighth largest tourist destination in the world, with more than 32 million visitors each year. London is the second most visited city in the world with 17.4 million annual visitors, ten million less than first-placed Hong Kong.
- Official Language: English
- Capital City: London
- Largest City: London (8.67 million)
- Surface Area: 242,495 km2
- Religion: Christian
- Population: 65.1 million
- Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
- Legal system: English common law
- Currency: Pound Sterling
- GDP per capita: $43,902
- Climate: The UK has in general warm summers with limited sunshine and cold, often snowy winters plus rainfall throughout the year
United Kingdom Entrepreneur And Investor Visa Programs
Unlike several European Union countries like Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal, the UK does not have a citizenship by investment (CBI) program, designed purely to grant an investor the citizenship and passport of a country in return for a financial investment, normally by way of a real estate purchase but with no demands on actual residence.
Instead, the UK has an Investor And Entrepreneur Visa Program, aimed at attracting foreign high net worth individuals keen to invest in the UK with the view of eventually becoming permanent residents, and even British citizens, and encouraging them to remain in the country and contribute to its economy.
Option 1: UK Entrepreneur Visa Program
The UK Entrepreneur Visa program requires the applicant to pass an English Language test before the visa is granted. The applicant can include their dependents (spouse and children under the age of 18) in their application, and if successful, will receive a visa valid for 3 years 4 months, which can subsequently be extended for two further years.
After spending a total of five years in the UK as residents, the main applicant (and their dependent family) will be eligible to apply for ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain). 12 months after receipt of ILR, the applicant has the option to apply for full UK citizenship.
UK Entrepreneur Visa Program Requirements:
- The main applicant must have £200,000 in available funds to set up a new business in the UK, and must also create two new jobs for UK workers
- The main applicant will be required to work full time in the running of this business for the full 5-year residency period, including paying taxes and paying salaries to the two new employees
Option 2: UK Investor Visa Program
The UK Investor Visa Program offers high net-worth individuals who are prepared to make a substantial and significant investment into the UK’s economy the opportunity to become permanent residents and eventually British citizens.
The program was initiated in 2011 when David Cameron’s UK government announced it would present a “red carpet” to foreign investors and entrepreneurs.
UK Investor Visa Program Requirements
- The investor must prove they have at least £2 million in usable assets
- The minimum required investment is £1 million, of which £750,000 must be invested for a minimum of five years in UK Government Bonds or share capital
- Permanent residency – referred to as ILR (Indefinite Leave to Remain) – is issued after 5 years
- If the investment amount is £5 million, ILR is granted after 3 years
- If the investment amount is £10 million, ILR is granted after 2 years
Requirements Of Applicants
Applicant of either the Entrepreneur or Investor Visa Program must fulfil the following criteria:
- An applicant must be over 18-years of age
- An applicant must maintain the required investment throughout the five-years of the residency program
- An applicant must live in the UK (180 days annual absence allowed)
- An applicant must have authorized proof of no prior criminal record
Benefits of the UK Investor And Entrepreneur Visa Program
The benefits of the UK Investor And Entrepreneur Visa Program are multiple, here are just a few:
- No formal interview required
- No English language requirements made of applicant in order to obtain visa
- No prior business experience required
- No medical examination required
- Fast processing time, 1-6 weeks
- After five years, permanent residency can be acquired
- After one year of permanent residency, UK citizenship can be acquired
- The UK is the world’s 5th largest economy, respected the world over, renowned for excellent standards of living, education and healthcare
- The UK passport is the 3rd most powerful passport in the world, which grants its holder visa-free access to 175 countries worldwide. Areas of the world in which a UK passport holder has visa free access include the entire Americas (the USA, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean and Latin America), Western Europe, parts of Eastern Europe, southern Africa, parts of Asia plus much of the Far East and Australasia
Pros and Cons of Living in the UK
The UK remains one of the world’s great democracies, and is a benchmark for multicultural societies the world over. Foreign high net worth entrepreneurs will find themselves perfectly at home living and working in any of the UK’s major cities, including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh or Glasgow.
The standard of living in general in the UK is high, as is its education and healthcare. Its private education is arguably the best in the world, with many monarchs, world leaders and company CEOs educated in Great Britain.
The UK also remains one of the countries most geared toward business, and the conservative government encourages all levels of private enterprise.
Accommodation in London is particularly expensive. Anyone expecting warm sunny weather in the UK will be disappointed, although the weather in the South is far sunnier and warmer than the North.
Passport Reviewer Ranking: B
The UK Investor And Entrepreneur Visa Program is great for those people who particularly wish to live, work, run a business and raise a family in Great Britain. If one is purely looking to gain EU citizenship and a passport, there are many other EU CBI programs that are better value and less demanding on residence.
It also remains to be seen what effect Brexit will have on the UK’s passport, and if it loses its visa-free access to the EU, it could drop by as many as 27 countries, which will make it far less appealing to those people seeking second citizenship.