Tier 1 Investor visa suspension
The government has embroiled itself in yet another immigration mess with the suspension, and then cancellation of said suspension of the Tier 1 Investor Visa all within a matter of days. The visa, which requires investment in the UK by wealthy foreign immigrants, has been under fire as of late due to it being the entry form of choice used by so-called Oligarch from Russia such as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. Immigration minister Caroline Noakes said in a statement that the government was 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. The suspension was intended to come into force at midnight on the 6th of December but the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA) sent an email to its members to state that the government had now gone back on the plan.
The embarrassing turnaround is unlikely to do the underfire government any favours; with Brexit only months away and parliament in turmoil, the decision was viewed with heavy scepticism when first mooted. The Tier 1 Investor Visa is now a decade old, it allows those with significant sums (at least £2m) to invest in the UK. It has been a success so far, attracting significant inward investment into the country. But it has not all been good news for the visa. The large movement of money from Moscow to London has been facilitated by the use of the visa. This has caused the media to term it a golden visa due to the ease of application for those who have the means. Whatever happens going forward, the UK is going to need significant inward investment to remain competitive post-Brexit and these moves are far from likely to help.
What now for Tier 1 Investors?
The potential turmoil caused by the move to suspend the Tier 1 Investor Visa is likely to cause a backlash. With rich investors arguably having their pick of destinations, the UK is going to need to undo the damage and quickly. It is clear to many observers that the attempt is a political show of strength and somewhat unhelpful to an economy that even though is remarkably resilient, faces extreme difficulties in the near future. Is it a way to deflect the negative news on Brexit? Perhaps. If this is the case, that is likely to worry rich immigrants even more - who wants to move to a country that is going to threaten your ability to remain there? Or is going to use you as a political punch bag?
For those who are currently on a Tier 1 Investor Visa, the news is probably not that bad. The UK is unlikely to actually seek the removal of a visa route that brings in such lucrative potential sources of income. High net worth individuals are often the largest job creators in the economy, and can often help to get projects off of the ground. They also often help to spur innovation with their investments and can certainly help with the government's wish to turn the UK into a technology hub. This makes the decision to suspend the visa a curious one at best.
I am about to apply for a Tier 1 Investor Visa, what should I do?
If you are considering an application for a Tier 1 Investor Visa then we would suggest that you get in touch with immigration specialists such as ourselves. We are privy to up to the minute changes which could affect your application. We can also help to make the process as easy as possible by project managing your application. The UK's visa system is certainly a very fluid picture at present, and for this reason we would encourage those who are considering making an application to get in touch with those who can provide advice.
We still believe that the UK is an ideal base for high net worth individuals. Usually politically stable (current period excluded), the UK has a strong economy and a high quality of life. It is among the world's best places to live due to its excellent healthcare system, low crime rate and diverse economy. There are significant options for investors in the UK - there is a thriving angel investment community and lots of opportunity for diverse investment. There is also the City of London financial district and all of the investment options that come with one of the world's leading financial centres on your doorstep.
What is the long-term outlook for the Tier 1 Investor Visa?
It is clear that the government is prepared to change the Tier 1 Investor Visa. What this looks like long-term is anyone's guess - but we suspect that under pressure over the use of the visa by criminal elements, the government is likely to significantly change the Tier 1 Investor Visa if not scrap it entirely in favour of an alternative. For those who are eligible now, it may well be worth making the move - eligibility criteria changes may mean that you will not be eligible at a later date.
There is of course plenty to be positive about as well for Tier 1 Investor Visa holders/potential applicants: uncertainty offers opportunity. There is no doubt that if Brexit goes less than perfectly, there will be growth opportunities for brave investors who wish to come to the UK. In the long-term the UK is likely to come back from any short-term difficulties, this offers short-term bargains that may be too difficult to ignore.
Where can I go for advice?
If you are likely to be affected by the potential changes to the Tier 1 Investor Visa, get in touch and speak to our team of immigration solicitors. We are privy to up to the minute information and can help you to make the right choice. Don't delay - if you are looking to move to the UK we can help to make it happen.