Tier 1 Investment

Quick facts

The Tier 1 investor route is the only means by which non-EEA investors can move to the UK to be involved in existing businesses (other than as employees). Investors who commit a minimum of £2m to a UK business may be able to apply for a Tier 1 investor visa.

Tier 1 investment is an increasingly popular type of investment for businesses looking to increase working capital without having to give away a large amount of equity. It has one other potential advantage: your business could gain exposure to another market through your Tier 1 investor.

As well as being a UK registered company, you must be considered to be active and trading. In other words you must:

  • be registered with Companies House in the UK 
  • be registered with HM Revenue and Customs for corporation tax and PAYE 
  • have accounts and a UK business bank account all showing regular trading of your own goods or services 
  • have at least two UK resident employees who are not your directors.

The third bullet point may of course rule out some start-ups.

If investors want to enter the UK under the Tier 1 investor route, they must demonstrate to the Home Office that they intend to invest at least £2m (share capital or loan capital) in UK companies. (There are other criteria but that’s the relevant one from the point of view of a business looking for investment.)

If the investors have a minimum to invest of:

  • £2m, they might be able to apply for the Tier 1 investor visa and might be eligible for settlement after 5 years
  • £5m, they might be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain settlement after 3 years and for British Citizenship after that
  • £10m, they might be eligible for settlement after 2 years and for British Citizenship after that.

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