UNITED KINGDOM CLOSES TIER 1 INVESTOR VISA ON FEBRUARY 17TH 2022
Effective February 17th, 2022 at 16:00 local time, the United Kingdom’s Tier 1 Investor visa program closed to new applications due to security concerns.
Foreign nationals currently holding Tier 1 Investor visas will be able to apply for extensions of their visa under this program until February 17th, 2026 and, if eligible, to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain until February 17th, 2028.
Individuals seeking to obtain work and residence authorization through investment will no longer be able to do so in the United Kingdom.
On Thursday, February 17th 2022, at 4:00 pm, the British government closed the Tier 1 Investor visa program to new applicants with immediate effect. Historically the program was popular among High-Net-Worth individuals from overseas looking to relocate to the UK, with the visa leading to settlement after a five-year stay and ultimately, to UK passport and citizenship.
This program required a £2m (USD $2.72m, €2.39m) investment in certain UK companies and (in some cases) government bonds. Applicants were required to demonstrate that they have had control of the required £2m for at least two years, rather than 90 days, or provide evidence of the source of the funds.
WHY HAS THE TIER 1 (INVESTOR) VISA ROUTE CLOSED?
The Government published a statement setting out its justification for effectively abolishing this program. The statement explained that this visa program continues to give rise to security concerns including concerns about people acquiring wealth illegitimately and being associated with wider corruption and that reforms made to the route have been insufficient to address the risk of the route being used to transfer illicitly obtained wealth. We understand this to be part of the Government’s wider fight against corruption.
The UK government issued 798 investor visas in the 12 months to September 2021, 82 of which were granted to Russians. Over the same period, 210 visas were issued to Chinese nationals. 254 Indian millionaires received the golden visa between 2008 and 2020. The Home Office has issued 14,516 investor visas to Russian citizens since the program launched in 2008.
Even though we at QICMS did not anticipate such changes to be implemented until fall 2022 at the earliest, we remain confident that wealthy and active investors who wish to attain residence in the UK, will continue to be able to do so through bespoke solutions and upon taking specialist immigration advice.
The end of the program was done without prior notice and follows press reports, rumors, and statements, including on the Government’s behalf, which have appeared in the British press in the last two days concerning this visa program’s suspension. In spite of the fact that the program is under constant review in recent years, this move comes as a shock to everyone including Government officials. Nevertheless, the Government made clear that the lack of notice was intentional and aimed at avoiding an influx of applications before the program closed.
PENDING APPLICATIONS FOR TIER 1 (INVESTOR) VISAS
Pending applications for Tier 1 (Investor) visas are unaffected – the Statement of Changes CP632 sets out:
The changes set out in this statement shall take effect at 16:00 pm on February 17th, 2022. In relation to those changes, if an application for entry clearance, leave to enter, or leave to remain has been made before 16:00 pm on February 17th, 2022, such applications will be decided in accordance with the Immigration Rules in force on February 16th, 2022.
APPLICATIONS FOR EXTENSION OF STAY AND SETTLEMENT AS A TIER 1 (INVESTOR)
Importantly, those who already hold visas in this program and their dependents will be able to continue to make applications to extend their immigration permission until February 2026 and make applications to settle in this program until February 2028. We at QICMS advise all investors who are in a position to make a settlement application in the program to do so as soon as possible and in any event ahead of this path’s full closure in February 2028. We also advise those who currently hold an investor visa and wish to settle in the UK in the future, to seek advice on future planning, mainly if they spend a significant amount of time outside the UK.
UK CLOSES TIER 1 INVESTOR VISA ROUTE: WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?
The most suitable Permanent Residency through Investment in the United Kingdom alternatives for high-net-worth individuals and families include:
UK Innovator visa: Available to migrants planning to launch a new innovative business in the UK that delivers new products or services to the market. This program grants a three-year visa which can be extended for another three years.
UK Overseas Business visa (UK Sole Representative Visa): The Representatives of an Overseas Business visa is designed primarily to allow senior executives and managers of an overseas company to enter the UK to set up the company's first UK office, branch, or subsidiary.
UK Start-up visa: The UK Start-up visa is for new entrepreneurs who want to set up a new business in the UK for the first time. A big drawcard of this visa is that you do not need to be a graduate or have secured any initial funding to apply. You must, however, have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea that has been approved by an endorsing body.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
For more information about the UK Immigrant Investor Programs, or if you have a question about the closure of the investor visa, or the immigration options to invest in UK-based enterprises, or for expert advice and assistance if you were previously considering a Tier 1 Investor visa application, extending your leave or applying for settlement as a Tier 1 Investor please contact our office.
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