What do we know about the potential changes to the investor visa rules?
After much speculation in December 2018 on whether the Tier 1 (Investor) visa scheme would be temporarily suspended, UK Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes made a U-turn and confirmed the route would stay open to potential investors.
Nevertheless, a comprehensive review of the current Tier 1 (Investor) rules is expected to be undertaken.
Although nothing has yet been made official, it is expected that changes will be made to enforce stricter restrictions on the source of funds of those applying under this route, together with changes to the investment regulations in order to bring a greater benefit to the UK economy.
Applicants may have to provide “comprehensive audits” of “all of their financial and business interests” and it is likely that these audits will cover the sources of the applicant’s overall wealth as well as the source of the specific investment funds being used for the application. There may also be a requirement to disclose extensive financial information going back a number of years.
It has also been stated that an applicant will need to demonstrate that they have had control of their investment funds for at least two years prior to the making of an application, however no specific details have been given as to what exactly this means. From what we understand, this may mean that the applicant (or their spouse/partner if applying on the basis of joint funds) have owned the funds for that period.
It is also unclear whether gifts, funds derived from company dividends, divorce settlements or lottery wins will still be allowed.
As mentioned above, the new reforms may involve changes in order to benefit the UK economy, which is being watched closely as Brexit looms. Under the new rules, investments in Government bonds may no longer be accepted for those entering the UK in the future in the revised investor category. The Government intends to strengthen the rules “to ensure investments are made in active and trading UK companies”. This may mean that those who choose to invest in private limited companies may experience greater scrutiny over their source of funds.
With these potential changes coming into place, we suggest that investors who are planning to come to the UK in 2019 consider the following:
- Preparing comprehensive background information on their source of wealth and investment funds;
- Ensure that the funds to be invested in the UK (£2m, £5m or £10m) can be clearly shown as owned by the applicant for the two years preceding the application;
- Should gifts still be accepted, ensure that the person gifting the funds is willing and able to undergo comprehensive audits of their source of wealth and funds and that they themselves have owned the gifted funds for the two years preceding the application.
While these potential reforms are not expected to affect those already in the UK as Tier 1 (Investor) migrants, there may be a risk that some individuals could be required to confirm the source of their investor funds in the UK.
Gherson has extensive experience in dealing with Tier 1 investor visas. Should you require any advice or assistance in respect of this immigration category, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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.