Tier 1 Visa UK – A Gateway towards Settlement in UK


The settlement procedure in UK varies depending upon the reason the applicant wishes to come to the country. The immigration process in this regard is divided into four functional visa types i.e. Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 and the Tier 5 visa. A person applying to settle because he/she has family in the UK will apply on a different visa than a person who wishes to settle in the country for business purposes. Each visa type and each category has its own defined procedure and regulations which guide the settlement process.

The department of the government in-charge of making these decisions, along with all other decisions regarding immigration is known as the ‘Home Office’. Headed by the Secretary of State, the government officials working in this department decide whether any foreigner deserves, and should be legally allowed to permanently settle in the UK or not. However, these officials are obligated to abide by the UK Immigration Rules, which are a document containing regulations and procedures for all visa types. The UK immigration rules are based off of currently implemented laws in the country such as the UK Immigration Act of 1988, the Humans Right Act of 1998, the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act of 1993 and many others such like this.

The ‘Points Based System’ is a measuring system put in place by the UK Home Office to easily help determine whether an applicant is eligible for a visa category or not. This is done by awarding a specific number of points to the applicant each time a requirement is fulfilled. When the applicant crosses the minimum threshold required to be eligible, he/she can apply for the visa of their choice.

The Tier 1 visa is defined into 5 subcategories i.e. The Exceptional Talent category, the Graduate Entrepreneur category, the General category, the Entrepreneur category and the Investor category, each with own settlement process. The following article will use the Exceptional Talent category and the Investor category to explain the settlement process. Along with, we shall also look at the requirements for applicants who wish to apply on the Investor category.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Category and the Settlement Process

The Tier 1 Exceptional category exists for individuals who hold significant merit in their work and are renowned and established figures. The work these people are involved in considers both the arts and sciences. However, applicants applying on this category should know that the UK considers a very minor number of people on this category, as applicants need to be endorsed by an established body of the UK related to their field, and the numbers of endorsements that are given are very low. In 2013, only 1000 endorsements were allotted to UK bodies.

A total of 75 points under the points based system are needed to be eligible for this category.

Requirements for this category range from being awarded a recognized prize (Man Booker Prize, Academy Award, Grammy Award etc.) in your field to holding significant research experience or a PhD.

Extensions and settlements are allowed on this category. The extensions process will let the Home Office analyze the time the applicant has spent in the UK contributing to his/her field of work along with having him/her file tax returns.

Exceptional Talent Category Settlement Process 

Once the Home Office grants the applicant a visa on the Exceptional Talent category, he/she will be given an initial period of 3 years and 4 months to remain in the country. Once this period is over, the person can choose to extend his/her stay in the UK for an additional period of 24 months by fulfilling certain requirements detailed in the UK Immigration Rules. Again, after this period of extension has been exhausted by this person, he/she will have stayed in the UK for a total of 5 years.

After the person has stayed in the UK for a period of 5 years, he/she will legally be allowed to apply for permanent settlement in the country. Certain requirements will need to be fulfilled by the applicant. These are detailed below:

  • The applicant, at the time of application for permanent settlement is financially active in his/her field of work.
  • The established and competent body, that sent the letter of endorsement when the applicant applied for this category, has not revoked or change their stance since that period.
  • The applicant has completed his/her 5 years in UK in this category and not in any other category, even if it is a Tier 1 category. Also, this period of 5 years must qualify legally. This means that the applicant must not have been outside of UK for a continuous period of 180 days in a 1 year period.

Tier 1 Investor Category and the Settlement Process

Any applicant who wishes to invest a sizeable amount in any asset in UK can apply on this category to enter the country. Under the Points Based System, a total of 75 points need to be secured to be eligible for this category. These points can be secured by fulfilling one of the following requirements of the UK investment visa rules:

  • The applicant is willing to invest a total of GBP 1,000,000 in UK and the applicant possesses this amount at the time of the application process as reflected in his/her bank statements. It should be noted that this amount should be held in a regulated financial institution that UK recognizes.
  • As per UK investment visa rules, the applicant’s personal assets total at least GBP 2,000,000 pounds. This excludes any liabilities on these assets. Additionally, the applicant must also hold a loan of GBP 1,000,000 for purposes of investment in UK. All of this must be reflected in a financial institution that UK government recognizes.

If the applicant’s partner and the applicant hold this required amount in a joint account, an application is still considered. Also, if the partner holds this amount in its entirety in his/her account, the applicant is allowed to submit this as proof. The UK government will recognize the applicant’s partner as a legal partner if it is a husband, wife, a same-sex partner, an unmarried partner or if the couple is under a civil partnership.

The UK government allows the applicant to borrow this entire amount of GBP 1,000,000 if the financial institution the applicant is borrowing this amount from is recognized and approved by the Financial Service Authority (FSA) of the UK government. The amount should also be disposable in the United Kingdom. However, it should be noted that applicant is not allowed to mix his/her personal money with the borrowed amount.

Applicants who wish to apply for extension in this category will need to secure a total of 75 points under the Points Based System. This can be secured by fulfilling the extension requirements such as:

  • 30 points can be secured if the applicant has at least GBP 1,000,000 at the time of the extension application. This amount can be a loan from a financial institution recognized by the UK if the individual holds at least GBP 2,000,000 in his/her bank account.
  • 30 points can be secured if the applicant, during his/her stay in the United Kingdom has invested at least GBP 750,000 of personal money in the UL. This can be in the form of a government bond, a loan or share capital in a trading or an active company that is registered in the UK excluding those that are involved in property investment. Additionally, if a total of GBP 1,000,000 on top of this is invested in the UK or held in a UK based financial institution.
  • 15 points can be secured if the applicant invested a part of the whole amount in the UK within the 3 months of his/her arrival in the country or if the applicant invested this amount after switching from another category to the Investor category, and within 3 months after switching, invested this amount in the UK.

Investor Category Settlement process

Any applicant who wishes to gain UK residency through investment can submit an application he/she exhausted for initial period stay. However, the period spent in the UK must qualify legally and must be continuous in nature. This is known as continuous residence and is how the UK counts the period spent in the country.

A 2-year period of continuous residence is counted for British immigration by investment if:

  • If the applicant applying for settlement in the investor category holds at least a total of GBP 10 million in his/her personal account.
  • If the applicant does not hold a minimum of GBP 10 million in a UK recognized financial institution, he/she must hold assets worth at least GBP 20 million. This excludes any liabilities on the assets. Additional to these assets, you must hold GBP 10 million under your control which a financial institution that is regulated by the United Kingdom has loaned to you.

A 3-year period of continuous residence is counted for British immigration by investment if:

  • If the applicant applying for settlement in the investor category holds at least a total of GBP 3 million in his/her personal account.
  • If the applicant does not hold a minimum of GBP 5 million in a UK recognized financial institution, he/she must hold assets worth at least GBP 10 million. This excludes any liabilities on the assets. Additional to these assets, you must hold GBP 5 million under your control which a financial institution that is regulated by the United Kingdom has loaned to you.

A 5-year period of continuous residence is counted in the UK as:

  • If the applicant applying for settlement in the investor category holds at least a total of GBP 1 million in his/her personal account.
  • If the applicant does not hold a minimum of GBP 1 million in a UK recognized financial institution, he/she must hold assets worth at least GBP 2 million. This excludes any liabilities on the assets. Additional to these assets, you must hold GBP 1 million under your control which a financial institution that is regulated by the United Kingdom has loaned to you.

It should be noted that applicants who are applying to gain UK residency through investment must have made their proper investments in the investment period to be eligible for settlement. Furthermore, the applicant must not have been outside of the country for a consistent period of 6 months in a 1 year period during the period being counted as continuous residence.

Thus as explained, the settlement process varies even within the Tier 1 categories and similarly among other categories of other visa types. As with the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category and the Tier 1 Investor visa category, the rules for other categories if an applicant wishes to settle also differ. Such as, the Tier 1 (General) category requires applicants to have completed a continuous residence period of 5 years while the entrepreneur category requires a continuous residence period of 3 or 5 years. The United Kingdom’s Immigration Rules can be viewed for further information regarding any specific visa the applicant would wish to apply on.