A major change affecting Tier 1 applicants has been announced by Immigration Minister James Brokenshire in the press here, here and here. Updated policy guidance to this effect was published on 20 July.
From 1 September 2015, all Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Investor applicants will be required to produce a criminal record certificate from every country (excluding the UK) they have lived in continuously for 12 months or more in the ten years prior to the application. Adult dependants will also have to produce certificates for the same period. The certificates must have been issued within 6 months of the visa application. If an original certificate is not in English, a certified translation must be provided.
Failure to provide a certificate without an acceptable explanation will lead to a mandatory refusal of the application under the General Grounds of Refusal under the Immigration Rules. Production of false or fraudulently obtained certificates may lead to a 10 year ban on entry to the UK.
This is a trial scheme and it is intended that it will be extended to other types of visa next year, depending on its success. However, it is not intended to extend the scheme to visitors or EU migrants.
Mr Brokenshire said: "Foreign criminals have no place in the United Kingdom and this scheme will help keep them out.
"Since 2010, checks on foreign nationals going through the UK criminal justice system have increased by more than 1,000 per cent, helping ensure more foreign criminals are taken off our streets and making our communities safer.
"But we want to go further still by preventing these people getting into the country in the first place.
"Mandatory police certificates will serve as an additional tool to help us achieve this."
The new scheme will impose an additional, time-consuming burden upon Tier 1 applicants. Indeed, the Government seems to recognise this as it was reported that the changes are being announced now "to ensure that people have sufficient time to obtain certificates from relevant countries before the scheme is introduced on September 1".