22 Mar 2017, 38 mins ago

Did the Home Office intend to jeopardise the Tier 1 Investor category?

On 26 February 2015, the Government announced further sweeping changes to UK immigration law in a new Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules (“the Rules”). The changes run to some 215 pages.

An Explanatory Memorandum accompanies the Statement of Changes, in which the Home Office issues an apology for not providing the normal 21 days’ notice: instead, the notice period was just one weekend because the changes generally came into force on Monday 2 March 2015. The reason given for this reduced notice period is that it was in order to avoid “a surge in abusive applications by Points Based System applicants”, which is obviously of concern in itself.

Even worse, the Tier 1 Investor category could be in jeopardy if new restrictions remain for the following reasons:

As of 6 April 2015 a Tier 1 Investor applicant must have already opened an account with “a UK regulated bank” for the purposes of investing the funds.

• There is no longer a provision for the funds to be held with a UK regulated financial institution. This appears to be an oversight, as there has been no attempt to replace reference to “financial institution” with “bank” in any other section of the Rules, such as with regard to documents required for an extension application. However, as ‘rules are rules’, this new drafting can result in the refusal of any application made where funds are held with a UK regulated financial institution rather than a UK bank.

• Applicants are likely to find it extremely difficult to open an account with a UK bank without holding any residency status in the UK, not to mention being physically present in the UK with a UK address. This creates an impossible ‘chicken and egg’ conundrum.

Such new restrictions may well be inadvertent errors arising from inadequate consideration, no consultation, and hasty drafting. Let’s hope so, and let’s hope they are corrected before doing real damage.