UK citizenship by investment: Become a British Citizen | IAS (2023)

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The United Kingdom is a popular destination for individuals seeking to invest in a country’s economy and obtain citizenship through investment. British citizenship offers numerous benefits, including access to world-class education and healthcare systems as well as the ability to live and work in the UK.

To learn more about UK Citizenship via investment, reach out to one of our immigration advisors. Call us on (+44) 333 4149244 or contact us online today.

    Gaining Citizenship by Investment

    Citizenship by investment, also known as investment migration or economic citizenship, is a process that allows individuals to obtain citizenship by making a significant investment in a country’s economy and infrastructure.

    Currently, the UK does not offer a direct citizenship by investment route. However, there are a number of options that could eventually lead to citizenship in the UK.

    Page Contents

    • Gaining Citizenship by Investment
    • Investing in the UK and Possible Routes to British Citizenship
    • Extending/Renewing the Investor Visa
    • Innovator Visa
    • Startup Visa: An Option With Zero Investment
    • Pathway to UK Citizenship
    • How Can IAS Help?


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    By opting for an investment visa route it can, in the long-term lead, to British citizenship as you can be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status if you remain in the UK on a qualifying visa.

    Once you have then lived in the UK as a person with ILR status for a qualifying period then you can apply for British citizenship and eventually a British passport.

    What Visas are Available to Investors?

    The three types of UK visas that can help you get UK citizenship are:

    1. Investor Visa
    2. Innovator Visa
    3. Start-up Visa

    However, it is important to note the Investor Visa, also known as the UK Golden Visa, is closed to new applicants.

    Those who are currently Investor Visa holders can apply to extend the visa and their time in the UK will count towards any future ILR application.

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    Extending/Renewing the Investor Visa

    The Tier 1 Investor visa was a specialised investment visa scheme that allowed individuals and their dependents to reside in the UK.

    Anyone applying to extend their visa must continue to live in the UK and maintain the required level of investment while an Investor Visa holder.

    The minimum investment level required for the Investor Visa was at least £2 million. Although those investing £5 million or more are able to qualify for permanent residence in a shorter time frame – three years compared to five years.

    Extending the Investor Visa can take up to 8 weeks to process, although there is the option of applying via the priority service. This reduces the waiting time to 5 working days or less after attending an appointment with the UK Visa & Immigration Service.

    However, there can often be delays to an extension application as the requirements for the type of acceptable investment requirements can be complicated.

    Investor Visa holders applying to extend their visa are able to remain in the UK during the process and do not need to return to their home country – as long as they made the renewal application before their current visa expired.

    The cost of renewing an Investor Visa is £1,623 – this is in addition to the NHS surcharge that is required to access medical treatment within the UK.

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    Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance on UK Citizenship by Investment. Contact us


      Innovator Visa

      The Innovator Visa is specifically designed for entrepreneurs. By investing a minimum of £50,000 into a business, holders are eligible to reside in the UK to carry out business activities.

      This visa can also be a route towards becoming eligible for ILR status and eventually British citizenship and a British passport.

      Permanent Residence Requirements for Innovator Visa Holders

      To begin the route to permanent residence in the UK via the Innovator Visa you should ensure your application means the following requirements:

      • You must have a viable business plan
      • You can create your own company or form a team with other investors, with each individual contributing at least £50,000
      • You must maintain this investment for five years to become eligible for ILR
      • To be eligible for a visa extension after three years and four months, maintenance of an investment of £50,000 is mandatory.
      • Being an active participant in the business is essential and you must take all the responsibility for your business.
      • It is required to employ at least two workers via the business to ensure you are generating employment opportunities in the country
      • Registering your business with an endorsing body in the UK is compulsory. . The endorsing body responsible for assessing and endorsing your business plan must hold a valid licence. If the endorsing body loses its licence, you must reapply to another body from the government list.

      How Many Times Can the Innovator Visa be Extended?

      The initial visa for innovators is valid for a period of three years and four months, with the option to extend it an unlimited number of times, each time for three years.

      Any dependents accompanying an Innovator Visa holder can also apply to extend for the same time period.

      Applying for Permanent Residence with an Innovator Visa

      After being in the UK for three years, innovators and their families can apply for permanent residency and eventually become British passport holders.

      Startup Visa: An Option With Zero Investment

      The Startup Visa is a category under the UK’s Points-Based System designed for entrepreneurs who want to start a new business in the UK for the first time.

      You must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea that has been endorsed by an approved endorsing body in the UK.

      Once you have been granted the Startup Visa, you can stay in the UK for up to two years to establish and develop your business.

      After two years, you may be eligible to switch to the Innovator Visa, which allows you to stay in the UK for a further three years and is designed for more experienced entrepreneurs.

      Pathway to UK Citizenship


      ILR is a permanent status that individuals receive once granted. However, if a person with ILR leaves the UK for two consecutive years while still holding ILR, this status can be cancelled.

      Holders of ILR have the option to apply for British Citizenship. British Citizenship offers several benefits;

      • Having a British passport.
      • The right to vote in UK elections.
      • The ability to be absent from the UK for any period while still maintaining dual citizenship.

      When Do I Become Eligible to Obtain British Citizenship?

      To be eligible for obtaining British Citizenship, you must first be a permanent resident for one year. During the five years before your naturalisation application, you should not have spent more than 450 days outside the UK and no more than 90 days in the last 12 months.

      Adult applicants must demonstrate their knowledge of English and pass the Life in the UK test. All applicants must have a clean criminal record certificate and administrative record.

      You must be at least 18 years old and provide evidence that you were in the UK five years before the Home Office receives your application.

      You must intend to continue living in the UK and demonstrate good character per the naturalisation guidance.

      How much does a UK Citizenship Application Cost?

      The cost of applying for UK citizenship is £ 1,330. This fee covers the application processing costs and you will also be required to provide biometric information, including fingerprints and a photo.

      If you have any questions about UK Citizenship by Investment, our team is happy to assist. Contact us

        How Can IAS Help?

        Exploring visa options and consulting with immigration experts is crucial for anyone seeking to travel or relocate to a foreign country. This can help ensure that the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible and that you are fully aware of your rights and obligations in the host country.

        Immigration Advice Service can access up-to-date information on investor visa requirements, application procedures, and any changes to immigration policies. We can help you avoid costly mistakes or delays that could impact your move to the United Kingdom.

        IAS offers a range of services to support your visa and citizenship applications, including guidance on common mistakes to avoid and how to prepare for interviews.

        Our team of experienced advisors can help you navigate the complex application process step-by-step, ensuring that you complete all necessary paperwork accurately and on time.

        Contact us today at (+44) 333 4149244 or online to learn more about our services and how we can help you with your application process for British Citizenship by investment.

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                  How do I become a British citizen from the US? ›

                  Both the UK and US allow dual citizenship so Americans who would like to apply for British citizenship are able to maintain both citizenships. There is no specific application process to apply for American British dual nationality – all you need to do is to apply to become a UK citizen.

                  Can I invest in UK and get citizenship? ›

                  How can I apply for the UK Investor Visa? To apply for a Tier 1 investor visa (citizenship by investment), you will need to make a qualifying investment for indefinite leave. Either invest £2,000,000 to settle in 5 years, £5,000,000 to settle in 3 years or £10,000,000 to settle in 2 years.

                  What is the best way to apply for a UK citizenship? ›

                  Residency. If you have lived in the UK for 5 years and have had Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least 12 months, you are eligible to apply for UK citizenship. You are also able to apply if you are from the EEA and have had permanent residency for 12 months.

                  Is British citizenship test hard? ›

                  Being born in Britain might make you confident you have a decent grasp of what it means to be British. However, you may find the UK's citizenship test is slightly more difficult than you'd first imagined.

                  How much does it cost for an American to become a British citizen? ›

                  When applying for UK naturalisation, one of the key considerations will be cost and how much you will need to pay in British Citizenship fees. In 2022, it costs £1,330 to make an application to naturalise as a British citizen, which is made up of £1,250 for the application and £80 for the citizenship ceremony.

                  Can you be both an American and British citizen? ›

                  Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This means you can be a British citizen and also a citizen of other countries. You do not need to apply for dual citizenship. You can apply for foreign citizenship and keep your British citizenship.

                  Why can't US citizens invest in the UK? ›

                  PFICs are taxed more severely by the US tax authorities than other assets. As a result, US investors in the UK or elsewhere should avoid owning them. This effectively means avoiding investing in the vast majority of popular collective vehicles, and creates a number of problems for American investors overseas.

                  How much money required for UK investment visa? ›

                  Your initial Tier 1 Investor visa will be valid for either 3 years and 4 months (if applying from overseas) or 3 years (if applying from within the UK). You will need to invest at least £2 million in actively trading UK companies within 3 months of entering the category. You will then need to maintain your investment.

                  Can I get residency in UK if I buy a house? ›

                  Buying a house in the UK does not automatically grant you residency, as many factors determine whether you're eligible to live in the UK permanently. To become a resident, you need to apply for and be granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or permanent residence if you're an EU citizen.

                  What are 3 ways to become a UK citizen? ›

                  Other ways you can be eligible

                  You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if: you have a British parent. you have another type of British nationality. you have a parent with British overseas territories citizenship.

                  Can Americans move to the UK? ›

                  Contrary to popular belief, you need a visa to move to the UK if you are an American citizen. The only exception to this is that if you are visiting with no long-term plans, you can stay in the UK without a visa for six months – but you cannot work during your visa-free stay.

                  What is proof of living in the UK for 5 years citizenship? ›

                  A residential mortgage statement and evidence of mortgage payments. A tenancy agreement and evidence of rent payments. An annual bank statement covering a 12-month period showing transactions for at least 6 months in that year (you will need to provide 1 statement for each year required).

                  Can you pass citizenship test without speaking English? ›

                  In all cases, the applicant must demonstrate the ability to speak English at the time of the naturalization examination, unless the applicant meets one of the age and time as resident exemptions of English or qualifies for a medical waiver.

                  What is the hardest question on the citizenship test? ›

                  Arguably the hardest question on the U.S. citizenship test is number 67: The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers. This answer is unknown to even most American citizens because the Federalist Party ceased to exist back in 1824.

                  Who has the hardest citizenship test? ›

                  17 Hardest Countries To Get Citizenship [Updated April 2023]
                  • Japan.
                  • United Arab Emirates.
                  • San Marino.
                  • Austria.
                  • Monaco.
                  • Finland.
                  • Singapore.
                  • Brunei Darussalem.

                  Can an American live in the UK permanently? ›

                  Make the UK your Permanent Home: Indefinite Leave to Remain for US Citizens. If you are a US citizen living in the United Kindgom you could be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK. To be eligible, you will need to have been living in the UK legally for a specified amount of time under a relevant visa ...

                  How many British citizens are in the US? ›

                  515,251 (0.2%) "British" alone

                  Based on 2020 American Community Survey estimates, 1,934,397 individuals identified as having British ancestry, while a further 25,213,619 identified as having English ancestry, 5,298,861 Scottish ancestry and 1,851,256 Welsh ancestry.

                  What is the difference between a British national and a British citizen? ›

                  British citizenship is a type of British nationality as defined by the British Nationality Act 1981. However, British citizenship is not the only type of British nationality. The British Nationality Act also created other forms of British nationality, these include: British overseas territories citizen.

                  Will I lose my U.S. citizenship if I become a citizen of another country? ›

                  Yes, the U.S. allows dual citizenship by default. The government does not require naturalized U.S. citizens to give up their citizenship in their country of origin.

                  Do I have to pay US taxes if I have dual citizenship? ›

                  Yes, if you are a citizen or resident alien of the United States, you have a U.S. tax obligation, even if you're a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. is one of two countries in the world that taxes based on citizenship, not place of residency.

                  How long can a retired U.S. citizen stay out of the country? ›

                  If you leave the U.S., we will stop your benefits the month after the sixth calendar month in a row that you are outside the country. You can make visits to the United States for specific periods of time, depending on how long you've been outside, to continue receiving your benefits.

                  Do UK investors pay US capital gains tax? ›

                  U.S. Tax for Foreign Investors

                  As a general rule, foreign investors (i.e., non-U.S. citizens and residents) with no U.S. business are typically not obligated to file a U.S. tax return, including on income generated from U.S. capital gains on U.S. securities trades.

                  Do I have to pay UK tax on US shares? ›

                  Yes, UK residents are charged withholding tax (WHT) of 15% on dividends or income received from US stocks.

                  Can I invest in US and get citizenship? ›

                  Investors can obtain US citizenship, however, it is better to use a US passport when traveling abroad to maintain status. If a person wants to get another citizenship after the American one, he will lose his US passport. Details about the difference between second and dual citizenship.

                  What is golden visa in UK? ›

                  Under the programme, foreigners who invested 2 million pounds in assets in Britain could apply for permanent residency after five years in the country. Investing 10 million pounds allowed an application after two years.

                  How can I move to England permanently? ›

                  Get an Indefinite Leave to Remain

                  After you have lived in the UK for five years with your work visa, you can get your Indefinite Leave to Remain (Permanent Residence). Your ILR allows you to live in the UK without limitations, and then if you qualify, you can apply for citizenship.

                  How much does a 5 year UK visa cost? ›

                  Standard Visitor visa - for UK, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey
                  Visa typesVisa application fee (USD)
                  Short-term (up to 6 months, single or multiple entry)130
                  Longer-term (valid for up to 2 years)490
                  Longer-term (valid for up to 5 years)873
                  Longer-term (valid for up to 10 years)1090
                  5 more rows

                  Can I buy a property in the UK if I live in US? ›

                  There are no legal restrictions on American expats buying property in the UK. Foreigners and non-residents can also get a mortgage in the UK. Americans with less than two years' residency in the UK and without a job may face more challenging conditions, including a bigger deposit to secure a UK property mortgage.

                  Which country gives you citizenship if you buy a house? ›

                  Portugal, Spain, and Greece are popular countries where you can buy a property and get residency among investors who want to become residents of the EU.

                  How much is the golden visa for the UK? ›

                  After a minimum of 5 years of residency, including at least one year of permanent residence, British citizenship is possible. The UK Golden Visa costs £2 million and allows those who apply for £5 million and £10 million to gain permanent residency in three and two years, respectively, rather than five years.

                  What are the benefits of being UK citizen? ›

                  Benefits of citizenship
                  • the right to live in the UK forever – your status will be permanently settled.
                  • the right to hold a British passport.
                  • full civic rights – this includes the right to vote in elections and the right to stand for public office.
                  • free NHS medical care.
                  • no restrictions on your right to work.

                  How long does it take to become a British citizen? ›

                  If you're from any other country. You can usually apply for citizenship 12 months after you get indefinite leave to remain (or 'indefinite leave to enter') unless you're married to a British citizen. If you don't have either of those, you can check if you're eligible for indefinite leave to remain on GOV.UK.

                  Does England allow triple citizenship? ›

                  Is multiple citizenship with the UK allowed? Multiple citizenship, such as triple citizenship, is possible with the UK. Since there is no requirement under UK law to renounce or give up previous citizenship or nationality, it is possible to apply for UK naturalisation where you already hold multiple citizenships.

                  Can a retired US citizen move to the UK? ›

                  The U.K. recently closed its retirement visa program, meaning retirees don't have a straightforward way to get into the country. Fortunately, the U.K.'s other visa avenues are still open. So, retired couples can apply for work, ancestry or family visas. These visas have varying costs and requirements.

                  Can an American retire in England? ›

                  Citizens from outside the UK can retire in the country only if they are: Granted settled status as a permanent resident. Eligible to apply for settled status after five years of residence on a valid UK visa.

                  How long can a US citizen stay in the UK without a visa? ›

                  You can visit the UK as a Standard Visitor for tourism, business, study (courses up to 6 months) and other permitted activities. You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months. You might be able to apply to stay for longer in certain circumstances, for example to get medical treatment.

                  How many years do I need to live in the UK to get a British passport? ›

                  Residency requirements

                  You must have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before the date of your application. You also should not have broken any UK immigration laws.

                  How long can you live in the UK without being a citizen? ›

                  If you have settled status, you can live and work in the UK permanently - without getting British citizenship.

                  What is the 55 15 rule? ›

                  The second rule is known as the "55/15" waiver. It says that if you are age 55 or older and have lived in the U.S. as a green card holder for at least 15 years, you can have the citizenship interview and exam conducted in your native language. Again, the 15 years do not need to have been continuous.

                  What happens if you fail the British citizenship test? ›

                  If you fail the life in the UK test

                  You will not be able to make an application for naturalisation as a British citizen or for indefinite leave to remain until you pass the Life in UK test. In order for your application to progress, you will need to rebook and retake the test.

                  What is the 50 20 rule for citizenship? ›

                  The 50/20 waiver covers applicants for citizenship who are 50 or older and who have held legal permanent resident status for 20 years. They can ask the USCIS officer to conduct the interview in their native language.

                  How many Americans fail citizenship test? ›

                  Applicants who fail 1 or both test components will have a second opportunity to pass both portions of the test, called a re-exam. The diagram below shows that 96.1% of all applicants pass the naturalization test.

                  What's the easiest way to learn citizenship test? ›

                  10 Tips to Prepare for the Citizenship Test
                  1. Find and download the study materials. ...
                  2. Use every opportunity to prepare. ...
                  3. Take practice tests. ...
                  4. Divide your study by subject. ...
                  5. Speak English! ...
                  6. Seek help. ...
                  7. Read, watch, listen. ...
                  8. Follow the news!

                  What are 3 parts of the citizenship test? ›

                  During your naturalization interview, a USCIS Officer will ask you questions about your application and background. You will also take an English and civics test unless you qualify for an exemption or waiver. The English test has three components: reading, writing, and speaking.

                  Which country in Europe is easiest to get citizenship? ›

                  Portugal. Portugal is the easiest European country where you can get citizenship. The easiest way to become a Portuguese citizen is by obtaining a Portugal Golden visa; all you have to do is invest in a house, a business, or a property of €500,000 value.

                  Is America the hardest country to immigrate to? ›

                  Austria, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States are five nations that make it especially difficult for foreigners to establish permanent residency or obtain citizenship.

                  Which country has the easiest citizenship test? ›

                  Italian citizenship by descent is one of the easiest to obtain. You may be eligible for citizenship if you have Italian heritage. To acquire citizenship, you must have an ancestor who was a citizen of Italy on March 17th, 1861 or was born in the country after that.

                  How long does it take for an American to become a British citizen? ›

                  If you have indefinite leave to remain ( ILR )

                  You can usually apply for ILR after you've lived in the UK for 5 years. To apply for citizenship with ILR you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it.

                  How can I move to UK from America permanently? ›

                  Get a UK Visa and Residence Permit

                  Contrary to popular belief, you need a visa to move to the UK if you are an American citizen. The only exception to this is that if you are visiting with no long-term plans, you can stay in the UK without a visa for six months – but you cannot work during your visa-free stay.

                  Can you become a British citizen by descent? ›

                  British citizenship is normally automatically passed down one generation to children born outside the UK. For example, you might automatically become a citizen if you're born outside the UK to a British parent.

                  Can you be a dual citizen in the US? ›

                  Dual citizenship if you are a citizen of another country

                  If you qualify for dual citizenship, you must first immigrate to the U.S. Then you must become a permanent U.S. resident before being eligible for U.S. citizenship. Learn more about immigrating to the U.S. And find out how to become a permanent resident.

                  How many citizenships can you have? ›

                  How Many Citizenships Can You Have: Bottom Line. The answer is you can have as many as you want, depending on your original citizenship. While some countries allow dual citizenship or many citizenships at the same time, others do not and require you to renounce your previous citizenship.

                  What is the cheapest way to move from USA to UK? ›

                  Ocean freight is the most economical route. However, if you need a speedy delivery, you may want to consider air freight on the higher side of cost. Moving from the US to England is the most common route to the UK. The major ports include Felixstowe, London, Liverpool, and Southampton.

                  Can I become a British citizen if my great grandparents were British? ›

                  UK immigration rules allow an automatic claim to British Citizenship if you have a grandparent (and, in rare cases, a great-grandparent) born in the UK. This is known as British Citizenship by descent, or more specifically, British Citizenship by double descent.

                  Can a British citizen have dual nationality? ›

                  Our policy on dual nationality

                  The United Kingdom: recognises dual nationality. allows British nationals who have dual nationality, to hold a British passport.

                  Can I become a British citizen if my grandfather was British? ›

                  You may be able to apply for British citizenship by double descent if: you had a grandfather who was born in the UK and who was in the Crown Service when your parents were born, or. if you or one of your parents were born in a former British colony, or.

                  Can a US citizen live permanently in the UK? ›

                  Make the UK your Permanent Home: Indefinite Leave to Remain for US Citizens. If you are a US citizen living in the United Kindgom you could be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK. To be eligible, you will need to have been living in the UK legally for a specified amount of time under a relevant visa ...

                  How much money do you need to migrate to UK? ›

                  So all in all, before you move to the UK you're going to need potentially $3,000 to $4,000 for the cost of your visa and health care. Once you're there you might want to have $2000 available to cover rent, bills and bond.

                  Can I move from the US to the UK without a job? ›

                  Yes, you can move to the UK without a job if you have enough money to support yourself and if you are born to British parents or qualify for one of the following visa's: Tier 5 Youth Mobility (this is country and age-restricted) UK Ancestry. Right to Abode.


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