In a shocking move the Home Office have announced, without prior consultation or notice, that the Tier 1 (Investor) visa route will be suspended from midnight tonight until further notice, providing less than 24 hours’ notice of their plans. There was initial confusion as to whether the suspension took effect from tonight or Friday night, but it has since been indicated that no applications will be accepted after midnight today.
There has been no direct announcement from the Home Office as yet and the only information available comes from news articles. What is known so far is that the suspension applies only to new applicants and does not affect those who are already in the UK as Tier 1 Investors who are applying for extensions or indefinite leave to remain.
The route will re-open for applications at some point in 2019 once new rules are put in place, although the exact date is not known. Big changes are indicated though, including the removal of government bonds from the list of acceptable investments. Instead, the new rules will likely require investment in active and trading UK companies and applicants will also need to be able to provide audits of their financial and business interests for a two year period demonstrating the source of their funds.
Further details are expected from the Home Office shortly.
Today’s announcement is said to be part of a crackdown on financial crime and money laundering, yet most users of the programme are genuine individuals who contribute to the UK economy. At a time when arguably the UK needs to attract foreign investment into the UK, today’s news will no doubt cause nervousness amongst potential investors and raises the question, is the UK truly “open for business”?
Fladgate are monitoring the situation as it unfolds. Should you wish to discuss how today’s announcement may impact your clients and what options are available to them please contact our Immigration team.