Personal Immigration

Tier 1 Investor visa category – Home Affairs Select Committee recommends suspension

In its latest report on the work of the Immigration Directorate, published on 21 March 2014, the Home Affairs Select Committee has recommended that the Tier 1 Investor visa category should be suspended pending the Home Office's consideration of the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), chaired by Professor Sir David Metcalf.

The Select Committee commented as follows:

45. The Committee was alarmed by Professor Sir David Metcalf's admission about the purchase of gilts for citizenship. The current evidence suggests that there appears to be very little benefit. While the Government considers the options for a system more beneficial to the UK, as outlined in the MAC report, we recommend the Home Office suspend the Tier 1 (Investor) visa route. The practice of other European Union Member States selling citizenship is extremely worrying. As the Minister for Immigration pointed out, the UK has neither power nor control over the policies of other EU States in this regard. We do not believe Britain should follow the example of Malta, for the reasons stated in evidence. The Committee recommends that the Home Office seek urgently to petition the European Commission about this practice. Otherwise Britain's immigration controls would be in danger of being sidestepped by those with sufficient wealth.

46. We are perturbed at the new recommendation by the Migration Advisory Committee to sell British settlement by auction. This process is riddled with difficulties and combined with the reduction in standards required of those gaining citizenship, including limited or no English or Welsh language skills, will be a recipe for disaster. A requirement to speak English or Welsh has been a cornerstone of the development of immigration policy under successive Governments. If the Home Office are to accept these proposals, there must be thorough and robust due-diligence applied to these potential new citizens to ensure that they are fit and proper persons to be admitted to settle in this country and placed on the path of citizenship. We will examine the Home Secretary on this when she next appears before the Committee.

We previously reported on the MAC's recommendations for changes to the investor route.

It is understood that any suspension could be introduced without notice and, in this event, investors will not be able to apply to enter the UK in the Tier 1 Investor category until the category is re-opened. Any application made at that stage would be assessed against the requirements of the Immigration Rules in force at that time, which may include an increased investment funds requirement.

Our current advice to potential Tier 1 Investor visa applicants is that whilst there is currently no formal Home Office proposal to suspend the category, or indeed any indication that the Home Office intends to adopt the Committee's recommendation, this could change suddenly.  It would therefore be prudent to apply for an investor visa sooner rather than later.

For advice or assistance with preparing an application to enter or remain in the UK in the Tier 1 Investor visa category, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or by email to info@richmondchambers.com 

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