The Home Office has confirmed this week that they will undergo a review of all Investor (Tier 1) visas that were granted prior to 5 April 2015 due to potential national security risks.
Also known as the ‘Golden Visa’ scheme, the Tier 1 (Investor) route has previously been subject to review by the Home Office in 2015 and 2018, and critiqued for the reported lack of due diligence on the source of funds.
It has been reported that since the opening of the Tier 1 (Investor) route in 2008, 6,312 visas in this category were approved between June 2008 and April 2015. Referred to as the ‘blind faith’ period, it is reported that during this time, little or no checks were carried out by the Home Office in relation to the applicants’ wealth.
Reports indicate that 68% of all Tier 1 (Investor) visas that have been issued from mainland China and 85% of all Tier 1 (Investor) visas that were issued to Russian individuals since 2008, were granted during the ‘blind faith’ period.
While the Home Office have carried out a review of this route in 2018, they have yet to publish their findings.
What changes were made to this route in 2015 and 2019?
- An individual must demonstrate that they have held at least GBP £2 million for at least two years, or be able to provide evidence of the source of those funds; and
- A bank must provide a letter to the Home Office confirming that they have completed all requisite customer due diligence and KYC prior to opening the applicant’s UK bank account; and
- As of 2019, new applicants can no longer invest in government bonds, instead investments must be made by way of share or loan capital in active and trading UK companies;
What is the Tier 1 (Investor) route?
The Tier 1 (Investor) route is open to individuals capable of investing no less than £2 million in the UK.
For the purpose of the initial application, the individual will need to evidence the availability and source of the £2 million investment funds and, if the visa is granted, the individual will have up to 3 months to make the required investment in the UK.
Tier 1 (Investor) visa holders are required to invest no less than £2 million by way of share or loan capital into active and trading UK-registered companies. It is also possible for the investment to be made into the individual’s own company in the UK, subject to certain requirements being met. There are certain restrictions on the permitted type of investments, for example, the applicant may not make the investment into UK companies engaged in property investment, management or development.
In summary, to be eligible to apply under this route the applicant must:
- be at least 18 years old;
- be able to evidence that the investment funds (£2 million, £5million or £10 million) belong to the applicant (the investment funds may be a gift from a family member, but the applicant must be the legal and beneficial owner of the funds);
- have opened a personal investment account in the UK at a UK regulated financial institution, and that institution must confirm that it has undertaken the necessary due diligence to be able to receive the £2 million, £5 million or £10 million for investment purposes;
- hold the investment funds in one or more regulated financial institutions (in the UK or overseas), which are freely disposable in the UK and freely transferrable to the UK (if they are held overseas on the day of application).
An application may be refused where the Home Office has reason to believe that any of the funds have been acquired by unlawful conduct, or have or will be transferred internationally by means which are unlawful in any of the countries involved. Where money has been made available to the applicant by a third party, the Home Office may refuse the application where it is deemed that the character, conduct or associations of that party are such that approval of the application would not be conducive to the public good.
If the initial application is successful, the individual will be issued with permission to remain in the UK valid for a period of 3 years. The individual may subsequently extend their leave in the UK and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) following either 2, 3 or 5 continuous years of residence in the UK depending on the level of investments in the UK. The applicant will only qualify for ILR if they meet certain residence requirements.
How Gherson can assist
Gherson have extensive experience advising clients on all immigration aspects of the Tier 1 (Investor) route. If you require any advice on your status as a Tier 1 (Investor) or are considering this route, then Gherson’s immigration team will be more than happy to assist.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Consultant and Trainee Solicitor in our Corporate Team