UK citizenship for foreign investors: What you need to know

For anyone with an interest in the UK’s exit from the European Union, you’ll know immigration is one of the core themes. A new points-based system is to be introduced in an effort to assert more control over the number of people wishing to move to the UK. This could have implications for foreign entrepreneurs and potential investors too – but the route to citizenship remains open.

In fact, the UK launched its first dedicated investor visa pathway for such individuals nearly 30 years ago. It has, however, been subject to reform in the years since. And it’s likely that more changes could follow in a post-Brexit world. The fundamental aim of these pathways are set to remain the same – and actively welcome ‘high-value migrants’ to enter and work in the UK.   

The importance of British citizenship

“Why invest in the UK?” – it’s a reasonable question that any foreign investor or entrepreneur might be asking. But there are many compelling reasons to do so, despite the impact of Brexit. From a business perspective, it is one of the top-ranked countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business list – with consistently encouraging scores across most core metrics.

As such, foreign investors will discover the UK business landscape as one that’s welcoming to their interests and ambitions. A free market economy, transparent legal and tax systems, and the country’s highly-skilled workforce are also compelling business reasons to come to the UK. And that’s not to ignore the lifestyle benefits – such as universal healthcare and education.

It’s part of the reason why, in the year ending December 2019, the number of high value visas granted by the UK rose 7% to 5,664 investors and businessmen.

UK visas: Knowing the different types

As mentioned, the visa pathway for high value foreign investors and businessmen now looks a little different. No longer, for example, can you apply for the Entrepreneur (Tier 1) visa. There are, however, new options in the form of the Innovator or Start-Up visa. And, of course, you can still apply for the Investor visa if you meet its conditions.

With all these different types of high value visas and qualifying criteria, it does press home the need to seek expert immigration advice from specialist law firms such as Withers. It’ll help you to better understand the fundamental differences – and find out which is the right option. With this insight and knowledge, you can enhance your chances of a successful application. 

How foreign investors can apply for citizenship

For a specialist immigration law firm, part of the service is guiding you through the application process. Whether you are making a new application or extending an existing visa, it is possible to apply online (unless you live in North Korea). After ensuring that you meet the criteria, and have read the guidance, the online application process.

This process involves completing an initial form and paying the applicable fees to start. You’re also required to provide biometric data such as fingerprints and photographs, as well as results of a tuberculosis test if that applies to the country in which you currently live. In addition, you must provide a passport and other requested, supporting evidence e.g. proof of funds. To work or invest in the UK, a decision can be expected within three weeks (15 working days) of attending the visa application centre in most cases.