UK Tier 1 Visa Suspended
Updated: Apr 14, 2019
The UK Tier 1 Investors Visa will be suspended from midnight on Friday until early 2019, as the government cracks down on financial crimes. The suspension will be lifted when new and tougher auditing measures are implemented.
Caroline Nokes, Immigration Minister, told the BBC that the UK will “not tolerate people who do not play by the rules”, signalling at the possible abuse of the fast-track visa to engage in money laundering and other financial crimes.
In the year ending in September 2018, there were more than 1,000 of such visas granted.
The scheme was implemented since 2008 as a way to encourage high net-worth individuals to invest in the country. Currently, holders of that visa need to have £2 million in liquid assets to invest in the UK, and these funds must belong to the individual or their partner (married, unmarried, or same-sex).
As of now, the scheme requires applicants to be of “good character”, and the liquid assets can be in any currency at the time of applying. From next year onwards, applicants will be required to provide comprehensive audits of their financial and business interests, as well proof that the £2m used to invest have been in control of the individual for at least two years.
The audits must be carried out by a regulated UK auditing firm that is not involved with any qualifying investments for the application (AOL).
Applicants will also now be unable to invest in government bonds and are instead required to invest in active and trading UK companies.
The Home Office also plans to introduce pooled investments so that the scheme can have “clear economic benefits” for the UK, since it is argued that its current impact on the economy is null.
The changes to the requirements come as part of other reforms to the visa system, with the Home Office also changing the Tier 1 Graduate and Entrepreneur visas into ‘Start Up’ and ‘Innovator’ visa routes.
Author: Ana Hernandez