Immigration rule changes issued on Tuesday include no reference to Tier 1 Investor visas, with the next update due in March. The government has not suspended its controversial “golden visa” programme for wealthy foreign investors, despite a Home Office announcement last week stating that it had.
“The tier 1 investor visa is not currently suspended, however, we remain committed to reforming the route,” a spokesperson for the department said on Tuesday.
“A further announcement will be made in due course.”
The UK will always be open to legitimate and genuine investors who are committed to helping our economy and businesses grow. However, I have been clear that we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system.
Tier 1 investor visas grant access to super-rich foreign nationals if they invest £2m or more in UK government bonds or a UK company. For £5m they can apply to stay after three years; for £10m it can be done in two.
“This is no way to run an immigration policy, effectively trying to legislate by press release,” said Philip Barth, partner and head of immigration at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth.
The Home Office has rowed back last week’s announcement that the Tier 1 (Investor) route was suspended with near-immediate effect. It was widely reported last Thursday that the route would be closed to new applications from midnight the next day due to concerns over money laundering, but the department provided no official confirmation beyond the press release evidently sent to news organisations, and the online application system remains live.
Alongside this, we will reform our Tier 1 (Investor) route.
These reforms will be introduced in the spring and will ensure the UK remains a world-leading destination for investment and innovation. We will shortly be publishing a Statement of Intent setting out the details of how the reformed routes will work and I will place a copy in the House Library.
The only thing out there that suggested the unexpected suspension of the investor route last week were identical quotes from the Immigration Minister published by some of the press. If the Minister did provide the information quoted in the media but a decision was then made that the suspension would not go ahead, whilst good news for applicants, this is reckless, to say the least. It is extremely important to the integrity of the UK’s immigration system that any changes made to key immigration routes are made formally and with sufficient notice.
On Thursday 6 December, the BBC, Times and Guardian all reported that the Tier 1 (Investor) route was to be closed to new applicants more or less immediately and quoted the immigration minister as follows:
Home Office forced to delay suspension of Tier 1 investor visas after opposition from other Government departments , Times discloses.
— richard ford (@RFord4) December 11, 2018
Neither the press release nor any official confirmation of the move was published, leaving immigration lawyers unable to confirm the status of the investor route.