It’s a visa route that has long been on the ‘endangered list’, but in a sudden announcement (seemingly prompted by recent geo-political events) the Government has closed the Tier 1 (Investor) (so called “Golden” visa) route, to new applicants. The change was made with immediate effect from 17th February 2022.
You can find the Government’s press release here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tier-1-investor-visa-route-closes-over-security-concerns
The findings of a Home Office review, which looked at all Tier 1 Investor visas granted from when the scheme launched in 2008 up to 5 April 2015 when the route was reformed, will be published in due course.
Here’s some key points to know if you have a Tier 1 (Investor) visa or were looking to obtain one.
If you’ve already made an application
Applications validly submitted prior to closure of the route will still be considered under the pre-existing Tier 1 (Investor) route rules, so you should still expect to receive an outcome (and hopefully grant of your visa) in due course.
If you’re already in the UK with a Tier 1 (Investor) visa that’s running out
It’s ok. The new Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules (CP 632) confirms that you can still apply to extend your stay, as and when you need to.
If you hold a Tier 1 (Investor) visa but are currently outside the UK
You may still be able to gain entry clearance back into the UK under the route. The explanatory memorandum (EM) to CP 632, states that those with existing leave in the route will still be able to extend their stay, including by making an application for entry clearance outside the UK if they have held leave as a Tier 1 (Investor) migrant in the 12 month period preceding the date of application. It seems that applications for Settlement will also be possible in such circumstances.
Why is the Government making this change?
In its Explanatory Memorandum, the Government states:
“…the association between the route and the movement of illicitly obtained wealth to the United Kingdom has been the subject of ongoing Parliamentary and media scrutiny, including the Intelligence and Security Committee’s Russia report. While there have been reforms to the route aimed at reducing this exposure, including a requirement that funds relied upon for the purposes of applications under the route are the subject of due diligence by UK banks, it is not judged that these are sufficient to address the risk of the route being used to transfer illicitly obtained wealth.”
Will the route return, and what are the other options?
It seems unlikely that a visa route similar to Tier 1 (Investor) will be re-introduced any time soon. The political climate is not conducive to that. However, several new visa routes have been announced for introduction in the Spring of 2022 (including the new Global Business Mobility route) and there are a wealth of other economic and non-economic routes available. So, if you were planning to use the Tier 1 (Investor) route but have missed out, all may not be lost.
For more information on the topics covered in this article, or for advice and guidance on UK visa and immigration options please contact the team here.