In a dramatic move Priti Patel, the Home Secretary has today ended the Tier 1 Investor route from 16:00 to new applicants! This is a departure from convention which required the laying of immigration rules in Parliament to become effective at least 21 days later – the rationale is to deter a rush of new applicants within this period who could then potentially settle in the UK – one would assume from Russia!
As the partners at RLegal can attest, having worked on these applications since inception, the Tier 1 Investor route has existed in different forms since 1994, but in its final guise enabled individuals with £2 million, by way of investment to obtain visas for both themselves and their dependants and eventually apply for indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom through a qualifying period.
The scheme has had its fair share of criticism in the media and been linked with dubious investments to enable illegal money to find its way to the UK – with large numbers of applicants coming from China and Russia.
With tensions running high due to the Ukraine crisis, the Home Secretary decided the time to act had come stating it:
"failed to deliver for the UK people and gave opportunities for corrupt elites to access the UK”
“I have zero tolerance for abuse of our immigration system. Under my new plan for Immigration, I want to ensure the British people have confidence in the system, including stopping corrupt elites who threaten our national security and push dirty money around our cities.”
What it ignores is the fact thousands of applicants and their dependants benefitted from the Tier 1 Investor visa route however, for a long-time successive governments including Ms Patel as Home Secretary did little to stem the flow of sizeable illegal money – it would be unfair to tarnish all with this! No doubt, their were and are many how have contributed to the United Kingdom.
Whatever happens on the Ukraine/Russia border it is a clear signal to Moscow that this government will no longer allow those close to Mr Putin to park their illicit money in the UK through the Tier 1 Investor route - it may also be part of signal to try and dissuade Mr Putin from taking action in Ukraine by putting pressure on his associates here – it may well lead to a reinvestigation by the government on those who have benefited through the scheme – the freezing of wealth and assets is not out of the question here.
Interestingly, the announcement has made it clear applicants currently under the route applying for settlement will be ‘conditional’ on,
"executing an investment strategy that can show genuine job creation and other tangible economic impacts - passively holding UK investments will no longer be enough to obtain settlement. "
In other words, new requirements will be introduced where individuals will need to show they have either:
(i) created jobs or
(ii) can demonstrate their investments have brought benefits to the UK economy.
Although Tier 1 Investors looking to apply for indefinite leave to remain will need to satisfy the new rules, we believe there will be legal challenges to the changes by those currently under this route either, through individual claims or through a class action in the High Court.
It is also possible those currently in the UK and particularly those with Russian ties on Tier 1 Investor visas or have obtained indefinite leave to remain through this route will undergo a through re-examination of their immigration status.
If you are affected by today’s announcement on the changes to the Tier 1 Investment route and require immigration advice you can contact us by email at email@example.com, by completing our online form or telephoning us on +44 207 038 3980 and one of immigration lawyers will respond to you.