Category: Tier 1

Investor visa

Key changes to the Tier 1 Investor visa route announced by Home Office

The Tier 1 Investor visa category will remain opened contrary to the rumours that this route will be suspended or closed. The published changes to the rules make clear that the Tier 1 Investor visa category will remain open to new applicants from 29 March 2019.

The key changes are listed below.

  • Applicants will need to have held their investment funds for at least 2 years prior to the date of application;
  • The Home Office will have power to refuse an application where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the funds have been, or will be, transferred internationally by means which are unlawful in any of the countries involved;
  • Applicants will need to provide confirmation from a UK bank that it has carried out all required due diligence checks and Know Your Customer enquiries.

The new rules will not require investors to undergo enhanced checks on their financial situations and business histories, carried out by a UK-regulated auditor, before making a visa application, as was previously anticipated. Applicants will no longer be able to simply buy up UK national debt to qualify as an investor. Purchase of UK government bonds is being excluded as a qualifying investment.Transitional arrangements for current investor visa holders will be in place until 5 April 2023 for extension applications and 5 April 2025 for settlement applications. Full changes announced can be seen at Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC1919.

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Invest T1

Tier 1 Investor visa suspended from midnight tonight to crackdown organised crime

The Tier 1 (Investor) immigration route will be suspended from midnight tonight (6/7 December) which means no applications will be accepted after today.

Currently, a Tier 1 (Investor) visa is granted to wealthy candidates who are willing to make a substantial financial investment of £2 million, £5 million or £10 million in Government bonds or British businesses in return for permission to apply for permanent residence in five, three or two years respectively.

This so-called ‘gold-plated’ visa scheme which allows foreign investors a fast-track to settlement in the UK is planned to be suspended in order to tackle money laundering as part of serious organised crime conducted by those granted this visa. The Immigration Minister has been reported stating that the planned measures aim to make sure that only those genuine investors who play by rules and intend to support the UK business can benefit from the UK immigration system.

While a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules is planned to be laid before Parliament later today, as assumed to make the changes necessary to suspend the Tier 1 (Investor) route, the route itself will be re-introduced for applications in 2019 at unspecified date. Changes are planned to be serious, including removing government bonds from the list of acceptable investments and leaving only active and trading UK companies as option for investment while also obliging applicants to provide comprehensive audit trails evidencing the money source.

The announcement has been received as a shock by some practitioners who are concerned about the timing of introduction of these measures which collides with the timing of debating of the whole new future of the UK immigration system amid Brexit which may have a negative effect on already nervous investors coming from abroad.

These planned changes to investor visa scheme are not the first aimed to tackle non-genuine migrants investing in the UK through the Tier 1 (Investor) immigration route, as previously in November 2014 and April 2015 there had been reforms under which applications can be refused if there are reasonable doubts about the source of the investment funds or that they have been acquired through unlawful conduct. Those reforms resulted in planned plummeting of the number of Tier 1 (Investor) visas in their immediate aftermath.

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