Changes to the Tier 1 Investor Visa

The Tier 1 Investor Visa route was established for individuals prepared to make a substantial investment of at least £1 million in the UK.

The UK Government has announced changes which will come into effect on 6 November 2014. Any applications submitted on or before 5 November 2014 will be considered under the old rules. Biometrics and submission of hard copy forms can occur after that date. In our view the high degree of flexibility and relatively small number of ongoing requirements for this visa will mean that it remains the most attractive option for high net worth individuals wishing to relocate to the UK.

The changes are as follows:

  1. The minimum investment required to qualify for an investor visa will increase from £1million to £2million.
  2. The full £2million investment must be invested in the UK by way of UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies (at present it is sufficient to invest 75% of the investment sum).
  3. New applicants will no longer be able to source investment funds by way of a loan from a UK financial institution.
  4. The rule requiring investments to be “topped up” has been removed. Investors are no longer required to “top-up” investments if the market value of the portfolio falls below £2million, provided that the purchase price of the portfolio was £2million. If Investors sell part of their portfolio they will need to purchase new investments within the same reporting period to ensure a portfolio purchase price of £2million.
  5. Entry Clearance Officers are being given new powers to refuse a Tier 1 Investor application if they have reasonable grounds to believe that:
    1. the applicant is not in control of the investment funds;
    2. the funds were obtained unlawfully (or by means which would be unlawful if they happened in the UK); or
    3. the character, conduct or associations of a party providing the funds mean that approving the application is not conducive to the public good.

Note that there have been no changes to the residence requirements and main applicants cannot be absent for more than 180 days in each 12 month period.

Note also that though the “approved” investments remain unchanged, there will be a further consultation on this matter in due course. The outcome of the consultation is expected to be announced in 2015.

Tom Redfern