Amendments to the Immigration Rules introduced on 11 January 2018 have clarified the position of multiple and joint property ownership by Tier 1 Investors who entered the category before 6 November 2014.
Investors who entered the Tier 1 (Investor) category before 6 November 2014 are required to demonstrate that they have invested at least £1 million in the UK. Whilst a minimum of £750,000 must be invested in UK government bonds, loan or share capital in UK trading companies, any balance required to bring the total investment to £1 million may be held as cash on deposit or used to purchase an asset, including the un-mortgaged portion of property in the UK.
The pre-11 January 2018 rules
Previously, the Immigration Rules stated that the property had to be the applicant’s ‘own home’:
‘When using property, only the unmortgaged portion of the applicant’s own home can be considered. The property must be owned by the applicant (or applicant and/or the husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried or same-sex partner of the applicant) ...’
However, as we discussed in an earlier post here, the requirement for the property to be the applicant’s ‘own home’ raised a number of questions for investors. The position of investors who owned multiple properties and/or who jointly purchased property with someone other than their partner was unclear. The new Immigration Rules in force from 11 January 2018 provide helpful clarification in relation to both of these issues.
Multiple property ownership
The Immigration Rules now state at paragraph 65-SD(c)(i) of Appendix A that:
‘When using property, only the unmortgaged portion of the applicant’s own main home, excluding any share owned by any other person in the case of a tenancy in common, will count towards the balance of funds.’
Underpinning this amendment lies a recognition on the part of the Home Office that many investors own multiple properties. And, where this is the case, the investor may live between several properties or own additional rental properties, but only the property that constitutes their ‘main home’ may be relied upon to satisfy the balance of funds requirement. Whilst the term ‘main home’ is not defined further, we would suggest that it should be read as meaning the applicant’s ‘primary place of residence’ or the ‘place where they live for the majority of the time’. This will need to be demonstrated through appropriate supporting documentary evidence.
Joint property ownership
Turning to the question of joint ownership, the new rules retain the requirement for the property to be owned by the investor. However, the rules now clarify the position of properties in shared or joint ownership.
The new paragraph 65-SD(c)(i) of Appendix A goes on to state that:
‘The property must be:
(1) wholly owned by the applicant or
(2) co-owned by the applicant and their spouse, civil partner, or partner, or
(3) co-owned by the applicant with one or more persons as tenants in common;’
This new provision represents a further welcome clarification. Unlike the position under the old rules, it is now clear that the property may be owned by the investor individually, jointly by the investor and their partner or jointly with one or more third parties.
However, there are two important caveats. First, where the property is owned jointly by the investor and one or more third parties, the property must be owned on the basis of a tenancy in common. In other words, all areas of the property must be owned equally by the group. No individual may claim ownership of a specific part of the property, although each individual may have different ownership interests (i.e. each may own a different percentage of the whole).
Second, referring back to the first limb of paragraph 65-SD(c)(i) of Appendix A mentioned above, whilst a property that the investor uses as their main home may be co-owned in a tenancy in common, it is the investor’s share, and only the investor’s share, that may count.
Contact Our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance in relation to an application for entry clearance, further leave to remain or settlement as a Tier 1 (Investor), contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form.