Tier 1 Investor Visa Extension

In 2022 the UK government made several changes to the immigration system, removing some visa categories and replacing them with new ones, as well as doing away with the tier system for visas. 

The Tier 1 Investor visa was abolished in February 2022 and the deadline to extend your Tier 1 Investor visa has also expired, with no new visa extensions to be made after April 2023. 

If you have a Tier 1 Investor visa and are wondering what to do next, or wonder what the Tier 1 Investor visa was, we’ll take you through everything you need to know in this guide.

About the Tier 1 Investor Visa

The Tier 1 Investor visa was a popular visa category in the UK that allowed foreign nationals to move to the UK as long as they invested a specific sum of money in a UK business. Also known as the “Golden Visa”, the Investor visa was a popular route to settlement in the UK as it allowed non-British citizens to gain permanent residency in the UK after just 3 years. 

However, in February 2022, the Home Office announced that the visa route was failing British people as it had allowed corrupt elites to gain citizenship in the UK rather than allowing for investment in UK businesses and economic growth, as it had been intended. 

While there is no direct replacement for the Investor visa, there are several other working visas that allow foreign nationals to move to the UK to start businesses, work in a variety of skilled jobs, or study. The Innovator Founder visa is perhaps the best option for those who would have preferred the Investor visa, as applicants can gain permanent residency after 3 years in the UK with the visa; they must have a solid business plan to get the visa, however.

Tier 1 Investor Visa Extensions

The Tier 1 Investor visa has been unavailable for new applications since the government’s announcement in February 2022. Visa holders could still extend their visa after the visa category was removed, however, as of 5 April 2023, no more visa extensions could be made. 

As the visa was issued for three years, Tier 1 Investor visa holders now have until 5 April 2025 to change their visa category. They can apply to settle in the UK, or apply for a new visa such as the Skilled Worker visa or the Innovator Founder visa if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Who Can Still Apply for a Tier 1 Investor Visa Extension?

You can no longer apply for the Tier 1 Investor visa or for an extension of the Investor visa. 

Before April 2023, the following information was applicable to those looking to extend their Tier 1 Investor visa. 

To extend a Tier 1 Investor visa, visa holders must have invested at least £1 million within 13 weeks of being granted their visa and be able to prove that they maintained this investment of at least £1 million throughout their stay in the UK. The £1 million must not have been held offshore or have been primarily invested in property management or investment, or banks or building societies.

Tier 1 Investor Visa Extension​

Applying for a Tier 1 Investor Visa Extension

Although you can no longer apply for the Tier 1 Investor visa, before the cut off date of April 2023, visa holders who wished to extend their visas faced strict regulations when applying to extend their visas. The following information is what was previously relevant, although current visa holders must switch to a different visa category to continue living in the UK. 

The Tier 1 Investor visa faced many changes during its lifespan in an attempt to make it more prosperous for the UK economy, which is part of the reason it was eventually scrapped in 2022. However, this is why visa extensions could be so complicated, as different rules applied for visa holders who obtained their Investor visas at different times. 

Tier 1 Investor visa holders needed to keep a clear paper trail of all of their investments to be eligible to apply to extend their visa, as they needed to prove the sum of their investments throughout their stay in the UK on the visa. If any documents were missing or incomplete, the visa extension could have been refused, or applicants may have been invited to a visa application centre to be interviewed by Home Office staff to assess the eligibility of the candidate. 

Interviews elongate the application process, leaving applicants waiting longer for a decision on their visa application.

Supporting Documents to Extend the Tier 1 Investor Visa

When Tier 1 Investor visa extension applications were permitted, applicants needed to provide evidence of their balance of funds, as well as a portfolio of their investments meeting the minimum threshold throughout their stay. This portfolio needed to be certified by a regulated financial institution in the UK to prove the documentation was correct. 

For Tier 1 Investor visa extensions, the following documentation was required:

  • A completed and signed Investor visa application form
  • A current, valid passport
  • Any expired passports
  • A current, valid biometric residence permit
  • Two new passport photos
  • Financial statements
  • An investment portfolio

How Long it Takes to Get a Decision

Visa processing times have not changed much; when you applied for a Tier 1 Investor visa extension, you could expect to wait up to 8 weeks for a decision on your application from the Home Office. This could take longer if there were any missing documents in your application, or if you were invited to a visa application centre to attend an interview with UK immigration staff. 

If there was doubt over any elements of your application or you needed to answer questions about your personal circumstances, you may have been asked to attend an interview. Personal circumstances usually referred to any past criminal convictions which may have made an applicant inappropriate to remain in the UK due to the threat posed to the British public. 

You could also have paid an extra fee to receive a faster response - the same day or the next working day - by using the Super Premium Service, now known as the Super Priority Service.

Applying to Settle in the UK with a Tier 1 Investor Visa

If you received your Tier 1 Investor visa before 6 November 2014, you could have applied for an extension to your visa until 6 April 2020, and applied for settlement in the UK until 6 April 2022 under the previous regulations for your visa. However, as Tier 1 Investor visa regulations changed, if you received your Investor visa between 6 November 2014 and 29 March 2019, you could have applied to extend your visa until 5 April 2023. However, you may still apply to settle in the UK until 5 April 2025.

The main reason this visa was known as the Golden Visa, was that it allowed fast-track options to settle in the UK that are not available to any other visa category. 

With the Tier 1 Investor visa, you can apply to settle permanently in the UK:

  • After 2 years if you invest £10 million
  • After 3 years if you invest £5 million
  • After 5 years if you invest £2 million

Family members who are staying with you while you hold this visa must wait for 5 years before they can apply for settled status. 

Settlement is also known as permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Where visa holders must leave the UK by their visa expiry date or apply for a visa extension or new visa category, pasting the application fee each time, when you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you no longer have to meet eligibility requirements and can live, work and study freely in the UK with very few restrictions. 

Indefinite leave to remain is not the same as gaining British citizenship, however, with ILR for 12 months, you can then apply for British citizenship if you meet the eligibility requirements. 

Indefinite Leave to Remain Eligibility Requirements

As well as having invested sufficient funds to be eligible to apply for ILR after 2, 3, or 5 years, you must also meet other eligibility requirements to secure settled status in the UK. 

To be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain with a Tier 1 Investor visa, you must:

  • Have not spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in each 12 months that you have held your visa
  • Pass the Life in the UK test if you’re aged between 18 and 64 
  • Prove you have sufficient understanding of the English language if aged between 18 and 64

You will also be required to pay the £2,885 application fee (if your dependants are eligible to apply with you, they must also pay this fee). 

You must apply before your visa expires, however, you cannot apply for ILR more than 28 days before you meet the necessary time lived in the UK i.e. 2 years if you’ve invested £10 million. 

You will receive a response on your application within 6 months of having your biometric photograph and fingerprints taken at a visa application centre. However, you can pay an additional £500 for the priority service to receive a decision within 5 working days (Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays), or £1,000 for the super priority service to receive a decision within two working days. 

Alternatives to the Tier 1 Investor Visa

The original idea behind the Tier 1 Investor visa was to gain investment in British companies, boosting the economy and creating jobs for the UK workforce. However, the visa required many tweaks over the years of its existence to ensure it was being used properly and eventually needed to be scrapped as it proved to mainly benefit foreign millionaires and billionaires who wished to gain British citizenship. 

When the visa category was removed, the government changed tact, opting for other investment visas to allow for a different strategy to guarantee job creation and real, visible boosts to the UK economy. The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa was also scrapped, and the Innovator visa adapted, to create the Innovator Founder visa. 

While there is no direct replacement for the Tier 1 Investor visa, or anything that resembles the Golden visa due to the negative impact it had, and the necessity for the UK government to be more selective of the investors and business people who could come to the UK for business purposes and eventually to settle, the Innovator Founder visa is the best alternative. 

The new Innovator Founder visa now has a different list of endorsing bodies for applicant’s business plans, and has removed the necessity of having at least £50,000 in funds to invest in their business, making it more accessible for talented individuals and experts who wish to start innovative and lucrative businesses in the UK.

About the Innovator Founder Visa

The Innovator Founder visa was created for foreign nationals with great business ideas to come to the UK to run their business, having access to the incredible talent pool of the UK’s job market as well as business connections and, crucially, to help boost the UK economy.

Therefore, to apply for the Innovator Founder visa, the most crucial eligibility requirement is that you have a business plan endorsed by an approved endorsing body within the UK. The endorsing body will look over your business plan and ensure it meets the eligibility requirements for the Innovator Founder visa, which include being:

  • New
  • Innovative
  • Viable
  • Scalable

Your business proposal must therefore show the endorsing body that your idea does not already exist and is original and unique so can tap a niche in the market, as well as having great potential for growth increasing jobs and boosting the economy, with a detailed plan showing how you plan to scale your business to meet the demands it will face in the markets. 

You will also need a good level of English and sufficient funds to support yourself while you begin living and working in the UK. 

If successful, your visa will be issued for 3 years, after which you can extend your visa as many times as you wish, or apply to settle permanently in the UK.

Conclusion

Immigration policies change with the times as well as with various governments, trends and attitudes, so it’s important to stay abreast of any changes to visa categories as they happen so you know how it may affect you if you currently have a UK visa or intend to apply for one in the near future. 

The best way to get help with your visa application when policies change, whether it’s an initial application or an extension, is by getting the help of a specialist visa agency - like Synergy Immigration Solutions.

Synergy Immigration Solutions

Synergy Immigration Solutions is a specialised immigration services operating in the UK to help individuals apply for a variety of UK visas, from Family visas to Visit visas, Ancestry visas to Global Talent visas. Our team of immigration experts even help businesses get their sponsorship licences so they can recruit talent from abroad and benefit their company.

Whatever your visa needs, you can rely on Synergy Immigration Solutions for help. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you.

Tier 1 Investor Visa Extension FAQs

Although the Tier 1 Investor visa is no longer available for new applications or visa extensions, there are still plenty of questions that arise about the visa category. Here are some frequently asked questions about the visa.

Can Your Dependants Also Extend Their Visas?

You can no longer extend the Tier 1 Investor visa so any dependants you have with you in the UK can also not extend their visas anymore. However, they can apply to settle in the UK with you if they have lived in the UK for at least 5 years.

What’s a Tier 1 Visa?

The Tier 1 visa category in the UK was designed to attract high-value migrants, including investors, entrepreneurs, and those with exceptional talents. This category was part of the UK's points-based immigration system, which has since undergone significant changes, including the removal of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and Tier 1 Investor visa and the creation of the Innovator Founder visa.

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