Despite a flurry of media reports last week announcing the suspension of the Tier 1 Investor visa scheme – the Home Office has now confirmed that the Tier 1 Investor scheme is not currently suspended and the application form is still open online.
Last week the Immigration Minister Caroline Noakes announced the UK government’s intention to reform the Tier 1 Investor scheme, stating that the reforms would be introduced in the spring of 2019. Following her announcement, many of the main newspaper sites and media outlets in the UK reported that the Tier 1 Investor scheme would be suspended at midnight on either 6 or 7 of December. After considerable confusion and some delays in obtaining an update, a spokesperson at the Home Office confirmed (on Tuesday 11 December) that they remained committed to reforms, but that the Investor scheme had not in fact been suspended at this time.
The Home Office’s sudden announcement appears to stem from concerns that this immigration route was being used for money laundering purposes or related activities. At the moment there has been no further official information from the Home Office as to what changes will be made to the Tier 1 Investor visa route. However, it is thought that tougher rules will be introduced in the spring. In particular, it seems likely the UK authorities will be paying close attention to the source of funds for the investments which lie at the heart of this visa category, and possibly the benefits brought to the UK economy. The Home Office has suggested that independent, regulated auditors will assess applicants’ financial and business interests as part of the future consideration process.
In recent years, the highest number of Tier 1 Investor visas have been granted to applicants from Russia and China. Last year, there were 350 successful applications in total, with around 3,000 such visas granted in the last ten years. Under the current regulations, applicants are required to have a UK bank account, be of “good character” and invest £2 million for an initial visa which could then lead to an application for indefinite leave to remain (or permanent residence) after five years of living in the UK.
Following the news, there was both surprise and frustration at the lack of information regarding what would happen after the suspension and what the new rules will be. For potential investors who have prepared their applications or who are currently considering this immigration route, it might seem advisable to submit their applications as soon as possible whilst the current rules remain in place, or else to keep a close watch on any further updates from the Home Office.
In light of these developments, should you require any advice or wish to discuss any concerns relating to the investor visa category, we invite you to fill out an enquiry form on our website or contact us by phone.
We have dealt with investor visas for many years and have extensive experience of this category. We shall be following the Home Office’s moves in this matter closely.
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.