HCR Law Events

31 January 2024

Has the era of the Golden Visa gone?

The United Kingdom aspires to be a first-choice destination among high-net-worth individuals who are looking for a country with a stable society and economy to invest in and establish themselves. To that end, the UK offered the investor visa (Tier 1), as a gateway.

The benefit of this specific visa was that it offered an expedited process, making it possible for investors to gain residence and citizenship after five years.  It became recognised as the Golden visa.

From February 2022, individuals could no longer apply for a new Tier 1 (Investor) visa. However, applicants who hold this visa (or had one in the last 12 months and it was their most recent visa) may still be able to extend their stay.  Individuals with a Tier 1 (Investor) visa can, subject to eligibility, make applications for settlement by 17 February 2028 at the latest.

As individuals can no longer apply to obtain a Tier 1 visa, this has allowed for the introduction of other visa options, such as the Innovator Founder visa. The Innovator Founder visa is targeted at individuals with professional experience and their own business idea.

Despite all the changes that have emerged due to Brexit, the UK is still an attractive destination for investors. These investors will find that the UK benefits them greatly for fundamental reasons including the language, health system, educational facilities, legal system, and London’s financial market.

The UK is one of the freest, richest and one of the most stable countries in the world. It should also be noted that the UK passport is highly ranked and respected. With this in mind, it is no wonder that business entrepreneurs still class the UK as an important country to be associated with.

The specific benefits of the Innovator Founder visa include:

  • The initial Innovator Founder visa will be valid for 3 years and can lead to an applicant being granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, after that initial 3-year period; and
  • Applicants do not need to have any specific level of funds to invest in their proposed business.

The new visa options, as introduced by the Home Office, are more transparent. Applicants need to show that they meet the English language requirement in order to be eligible for this visa, as well as having enough savings to support themselves. There are also still rigid business requirements that must be met.

In order to qualify for this visa, the applicant must be able to satisfy the innovative, viable and scalable business requirements. This means that the applicant’s business idea will need to meet the criteria that the Home Office have introduced. Before applying for an Innovator Founder visa, the applicant’s business or business idea needs to be assessed by the relevant endorsing body.

The endorsing body will consider whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to receive the endorsement. It will review the source and origin of the applicant’s funds. This is to ensure that the funds are not associated with any criminal activities and that their source can be explained.

In conclusion, the Innovator Founder visa will be highly desirable to a candidate who has an innovative business idea, with views to develop it in the UK market. The fact that the applicant has the option to settle in the UK is clearly an added bonus. The UK, by making the process more transparent, is striving to attract applicants who can bring new business ideas to the UK and to make the UK their permanent residence. We are excited to see the positive impacts that this will have on the UK’s economy and society.

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Joanna Safadi, Associate

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