ENGLAND: Changes to the UK immigration rules following the Ukraine invasion

March 2022 – England – Meadows ryan

Tier 1 Investor Visa

On 17 February 2022, it was announced that the Tier 1 Investor Visa will close immediately to new applications. The current Russia and Ukraine conflict is thought to have had an impact on the timing and short notice of this decision. 

For those not familiar with this visa category of the Immigration Rules, it was launched in 2008 and 2015, following changes to the Immigration Rules. The Tier 1 Investor Visa route was unique in that high-worth individuals who wished to obtain a visa to enter the UK and ultimately acquire permanent residence (and subsequently, subject to meeting the requirements, British Nationality), could apply under this route. 

The Tier 1 Investor Visa required applicants to invest funds in share capital or loan capital in UK-registered companies. The benefit of the scheme was to pump money into the UK economy and presumably generate jobs. 

To qualify the most recent applications under this route required an investment of at least £2Million, this had the potential of permanent residency in the UK after 5 years and potentially permanent residency earlier with a higher investment. For example, an investment of £5M would shorten the time taken for permanent residency to 3 years and an investment of £10M would shorten the time taken to 2 years.  

This category had been in the news over the past several months and following reviews, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has decided to close it due to some cases giving rise to security concerns and that it included people acquiring wealth illegitimately and association with corruption. She said (as quoted on the government website):

“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.”

“Closing this route is just the start of our renewed crackdown on fraud and illicit finance. We will be publishing a fraud action plan, while the forthcoming Economic Crime Bill will crack down on people abusing our financial institutions and better protect the taxpayer.”

It is thought that there are likely to be changed to other existing immigration categories to cater for investors to invest in the UK including the Innovator Visa route. 

Whilst the Tier 1 Investor Visa route is closed to new applications, those currently on the Visa can still apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain), an extension of the visa for two years, and for family members to join. 

Those individuals on this visa must obtain the correct legal advice to ensure they meet the eligibility requirements as these differ for those who applied before or after 6 November 2014. 

Although this sees the end of the Tier 1 Investor Visa, there are other alternative routes available for entry and settlement in the UK and more routes may be available in the future. 

For more information on the above or in other matters, please contact Piers Meadows (PiersMeadows@meadowsryan.com). 

This article is based on publicly available information and given for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or as a comprehensive analysis of the matters referred to herein.