The Times, the Financial Times and other media outlets have published articles on the Home Secretary's decision to end the Tier 1 (Investor) visa route. It is understood that the Home Office will make an official announcement in the coming weeks.
The Tier 1 (Investor) visa route has undergone significant changes in recent years:
- The minimum investment amount was increased from £1million to £2million;
- Investments in property no longer qualify;
- Government bonds (gilts) are no longer qualifying investments for new applications;
- Source of funds requirement increased to 2 years;
- Applicants must show that they have a UK bank account with a regulated financial institution.
The articles make references to money laundering concerns in the UK. Indeed, many countries have reviewed their citizenship or residency by investment programme in light of the increased anti-money laundering obligations. The diplomatic tension between the UK and Russia is also cited as a factor in these articles. In reality, the Tier 1 (Investor) visa route has been under review over the years and most notably in 2018. Therefore, the decision to scrap the Tier 1 (Investor) visa route is unlikely to be a knee-jerk reaction this time. This also aligns with the announcement made in the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021 that the "government is implementing changes to the UK’s immigration system to attract highly-skilled people to the UK."
As with most changes to the UK immigration system, it is likely that there will be a grace period for existing Tier 1 (Investor) visa holders and their dependants to extend their visa. However, the route might be closed to new applicants imminently to avoid a last-minute rush of applications when the Home Office is already under-resourced. We will publish further information as soon as the Home Office has made an official announcement. In the meantime, the following tips might be useful:
- Speak to your advisers (e.g. immigration, tax and investment);
- Consider your current UK immigration status and options;
- Think about your short-term and long-term plans.
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