Tier 1 Investor Visa Update - December 2018
It’s been a rather tumultuous 10 days for the Tier 1 Investor visa category. It all started with a quarterly statistical release showing that demand for Tier 1 Investor visas had increased again. One week later, a statement from the Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, led media outlets to announce that the Tier 1 Investor visa category was being suspended with less than 24 hours notice. With immigration lawyers and visa applicants left waiting for an official statement from the Home Office, just 4 days later the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association received confirmation from the Home Office that the Tier 1 Investor category was not in fact suspended …. yet. Today, the Migration Policy team at the Home Office has released an official statement confirming that the Tier 1 Investor visa route is open.
Interest in the Tier 1 Investor visa remains strong
On 29 November the Home Office released its latest quarterly data for Tier 1 Investor visa applications. The latest release covered applications submitted in Q3 2018.
The data showed that 96 Investor visa applications were approved during the period from July – September 2018, representing a small increase on the previous quarter (92).
As in previous quarters, the largest number of applications originated from China and Hong Kong, accounting for 42 of the 96. The US (7), Turkey (5) and India (5) also saw growing interest in the Tier 1 Investor route. In contrast, the decline in Investor visa applications from Russia continued, with only 2 Tier 1 Investor visa application being approved in Russia in Q3 2018.
UK media announce Tier 1 Investor visa route suspended
Roll forward one week and media outlets including the BBC, Guardian and SkyNews announced the temporary suspension of the Tier 1 Investor visa scheme following a government review of the visa as part of a crackdown on organised crime and money laundering in the UK.
On 6 December, Immigration minister Caroline Nokes was reported as saying: “The UK will always be open to legitimate and genuine investors who are committed to helping our economy and businesses grow. However, I have been clear that we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system. That is why I am bringing forward these new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration system.”
It was widely reported that the Tier 1 Investor visa would be temporarily suspended for new applicants at midnight on Friday, 7 December (less than 24 hours later) pending publication of new Immigration Rules in Spring 2019.
Some of the key changes announced for the new Investor rules were as follows:
- Tier 1 Investor applicants would be required to demonstrate that they have held their £2 million investment funds for at least 2 years;
- Tier 1 Investor visa applicants would be required to provide comprehensive audits of their financial and business interests as part of their initial Tier 1 Investor visa application;
- Tier 1 Investor visa holders would be required to invest in active and trading UK companies rather than UK government bonds.
ILPA receives confirmation that the Tier 1 Investor route is not suspended
As immigration lawyers and visa applicants waited for an official statement and guidance from the Home Office, on Monday, 10 December, the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) announced that it had been informed by the Home Office that there was no suspension of the Tier 1 (Investor) visa as yet.
The Home Office could not say if or when any suspension would happen, or how much notice would be given.
ILPA expressed its extreme disappointment with the situation, observing that the announcement of a suspension, followed by a complete u-turn, “makes a mockery of the principles of certainty and stability inherent in the rule of law”.
Home Office confirms that the Tier 1 Investor visa route is open
On Tuesday, 11 December, the Migration Policy team at the Home Office finally released an official statement, via ILPA, confirming:
“The Tier 1 (Investor) visa is not currently suspended. However, the Government remains committed to reforming the route. A further announcement will be made in due course. Any suspension would be implemented through changes to the Immigration Rules.”
What next for the Tier 1 Investor visa?
At the time of writing, the Tier 1 Investor visa route remains open for new applications. Changes are, however, undoubtedly on the horizon.
It is possible that the route could be suspended at some point in the coming weeks or months, although the regrettable lack of clarity from the Home Office on this point means that we are currently all left guessing.
What is clear is that new Immigration Rules will be introduced in Spring 2019 to tighten up source of funds checks and encourage Tier 1 Investor visa holders to support UK businesses. In a separate article we look in more detail at what is likely to be changing and why.
Contact Our Investor Visa Lawyers In London
For expert advice regarding any aspect of the Tier 1 Investor visa category, or for expert assistance preparing a Tier 1 Investor visa application, contact our investment immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.