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Tier 1 Investor Visa Scheme expected to be scrapped amid tension between Russia and Ukraine (17 February 2022)

Date: 17/02/2022
Duncan Lewis, Business Immigration Solicitors, Tier 1 Investor Visa Scheme expected to be scrapped amid tension between Russia and Ukraine

The Tier 1 Investor visa, offering foreign investors a fast track to residency in the UK, is expected to be removed, due to pressure over UK links to Russia and fears surrounding the scheme’s corruption.

The scheme, referred to as “the golden visa”, was introduced in 2008 and aimed to encourage wealthy people from outside the EU to invest millions in the UK. It has been under review for some time, after concerns that the scheme was open to abuse; for instance, money laundering. This announcement, however, is allegedly in response to pressure for the UK to cut ties with Russia, due to the current threat of invasion to Ukraine.

After the Salisbury Poisonings, Russian influence in the UK has been scrutinised; for instance, in 2020 Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee urged for a “more robust” approach to Tier 1 Visa approvals. According to Home Office statistics, Russian applicants represented the second-largest proportion of those applying under the scheme.

The Home Office has issued 2,581 investor visas to Russian citizens since the scheme was introduced in 2008. The scheme offers residency to those investing £2 million or more in the UK, and allows their families to join them. Holders of “the golden visa” can then apply for permanent residency, at a speed dependent on the level of investment. The Home Office has said that the scheme has been reformed since its introduction to ensure it does not facilitate corruption; for instance, adding additional checks on how and when the applicant acquired their investment.

This announcement is not the first changes to the Tier 1 Investor visa, as in 2018 the scheme was halted due to concerns the scheme was being exploited for money laundering. The Tier 1 Investor visa was suspended until an audit process was introduced. The scheme was criticised by the Migration Advisory Committee is 2014 as they said that the scheme brought little economic benefit for British citizens, as applicants were buying gilts, a Government-issued bond, in order to qualify, effectively buying their visa rather than proving genuine investment in the UK.

The announcement concerning the Tier 1 Investor category is expected next week. If the anticipated closure to this category goes ahead, this will effect new applicants, as there is likely to be an imminent deadline date for applications to be submitted by.

Any changes could also affect existing investor visa applicants applying for extensions or indefinite leave to remain, similar to applicants within the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Category for whom the vast majority must apply for indefinite to remain by 6th April 2025.

At Duncan Lewis Solicitors, we have successfully assisted many clients in their applications to the Home Office, including Tier 1 Investor applications. If you are concerned that your immigration status may be affected by this issue please contact our private immigration team on one of the following:

Immigration director Vicash Ramkissoon on vicashr@duncanlewis.com or 020 3114 1105.

Immigration solicitor Kawther Al-Aaraji on kawthera@duncanlewis.com or 0203 114 1137.

About the author:

The author, Olivia Doherty, joined our expert Business and Private Immigration team as a legal casework assistant in 2021. She works under the supervision of Legal 500 recommended director, Vicash Ramkissoon, and assists the team of solicitors and caseworkers with the day-to-day progression of cases and applications in a range of immigration matters.

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