The £2m UK investor visa is not affordable or desirable for everyone, but there is an alternative £1m route still available, which has more or less the same result. This is in the British Crown Dependency of Guernsey, one of the channel islands. It is self-governing and is not in the United Kingdom, so has its own visa rules. But it is not a sovereign nation, and its citizens are British citizens. If you get indefinite leave to remain there, then you can naturalise as a British citizen one year later.
The advantages of the investor visa route in Guernsey are:
- You only need to have the £1m available to invest. Of that sum, you only actually need to invest £750,000, but this is deemed to have been invested if it is transferred to a deposit account in a bank regulated by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission. So this means that the £750,000 can be transferred into the deposit account without having to invest in shares or equity. It is simply paid in and can be withdrawn at the end of the relevant visa term. This is a big difference to the other investor visa routes, which generally require you put your money at risk through specific investments;
- It is English-speaking and a 40 minute flight to London. It is within the open borders Common Travel Area of Britain and Ireland. So you do not need a further travel document for travel between the UK and Guernsey;
- The tax system is very attractive: there is no VAT, no capital gains tax, no inheritance tax plus no corporation tax for most businesses;
- There is a great environment and community for entrepreneurs and investors.
In order to enter Guernsey as an investor you have to prove that:
- You have £1 million in funds under your own control which is disposable in Guernsey;
- You intend to invest £750,000 in Guernsey or in the UK in a manner that is of benefit to Guernsey;
- You must intend to make Guernsey your main home; and
- You must be able to maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependents (Paragraph 224, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008).
The Guernsey Committee for Economic Development considers the following acceptable investment options for the £750,000:
- £750,000 placed on deposit in a GFSC-regulated Guernsey bank. These can be funds which simply sit in an account. It does not need to be an investment account – it only needs to be a deposit account. Example interest rates at the time of writing are around the 1.75% mark. The balance of £250k just needs to be available.
- In addition to the property in which you are to live, the purchase and retention of an Open Market property of a value no less than £750,000 would also qualify. There are approximately 1,700 Open Market properties. Let me know if you want a referral to a good Open Market agent.
- Investment of £750,000 into another Guernsey opportunity of the applicant’s choosing that is considered satisfactory by the State of Guernsey. This is on an ad hoc basis and is flexible. The Border Agency looks at the proposal, and then there is consultation with a senior civil servant. Recently there has been a move towards more of a prescriptive menu, rather than it being completely a matter of your personal preference. Available investments include fintech and green energy opportunities.
Can I Bring my Dependents?
Yes, your spouse or civil partner and dependent children (under the age of 18) may apply at the same time as you (paragraphs 240-245 Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). Their leave will only be valid for as long as yours. They will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and British citizenship at the same time as you. You must be able to adequately house and maintain your dependents.
There is no requirement for the spouse of a Guernsey Investor Visa holder to meet the 180 day requirement for ILR (paragraph 242 D, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008).
Route to UK Citizenship
Leave to enter will be granted for an initial period of 2 years (paragraph 225, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). You should apply for an extension at least 3 months before the end of your initial visa period. In order to acquire an extension you must continue to have no less than £1 million under your control in Guernsey and have invested £750,000 in the manner set out above (paragraph 227, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). An extension will be granted for a term of 3 years (paragraph 228, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008).
After spending a continuous 5 year period in Guernsey you may be eligible for ILR. In addition to continuing to meet the requirements set out for the extension application (above), you will need to pass an English Language Test and Knowledge of Life test about life in the UK and Guernsey (paragraph 230, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008).
N.B. A continuous 5-year period in Guernsey will be broken if the applicant has been absent from Guernsey for more than 180 days in any year preceding the date of application for ILR (paragraph 128A, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008). In other words, time spent in the UK (e.g. in London) will be an absence.
After 12 months living with ILR status in Guernsey, you may apply for naturalisation as a British citizen (section 6(1), paragraph (2)(c) British Nationality Act 1981). In order to apply for British Citizenship you must not have been absent from the UK (which is defined as including Guernsey) for more than 450 days in the preceding 5 year period and you must not be absent for more than 90 days in the preceding 12 months (section 6(1), paragraph 2 (a) & (b) British Nationality Act 1981). You must also have passed the Knowledge of Life in the UK Test and have sufficient knowledge of the English language (section 6(1), paragraph 1 (c) and (ca) British Nationality Act 1981). So for this last year (year 5-6), you could spend time in Guernsey or London, maintaining your home in Guernsey, and also spend up to 90 days e.g. in France.
Travel to the UK
The UK, Channel Islands (which include Guernsey), the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland collectively form the Common Travel Area (CTA). If you have been granted permission to enter Guernsey, you will not need to apply for leave to enter another part of the CTA, you are therefore free to travel to the UK (paragraph 15, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008).
However, you must bear in mind that you must still make Guernsey your main home (paragraph 224, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008) and if you intend to attain ILR, you must not spend more than 180 days in any year outside of Guernsey (paragraph 128A, Immigration (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Rules 2008).
Once you have attained British citizenship you may live anywhere within the CTA.
- Application for entry clearance: £516 per person plus £55 document submission fee (TOTAL = £571)
- Priority Service for entry clearance application: £212 per person
- Super Priority Service for entry clearance application: £956 per person
(Schedule 10, Table 26 & 27 The Immigration and Nationality (Fees) Regulations 2018)