Changes have been recommended to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa, including:
- increasing the minimum £1 million investment threshold to £2 million;
- removing the ability to borrow the funds that the applicant is required to invest in the UK; and
- introducing a premium route which would offer a successful applicant indefinite leave to remain in the UK after 2 years.
The Tier 1 (Investor) visa is for high net worth individuals who are willing to make a substantial financial investment in the UK.
Currently, to qualify for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa an individual must:
- hold at least £1 million of his own money in a regulated financial institution in the UK; or
- have personal assets of at least £2 million (taking into account any liabilities); and
- hold at least £1 million, which has been lent to him by a regulated financial institution, in a regulated financial institution in the UK.
In addition, the individual must invest at least 75% of the £1 million held in the UK in UK Government bonds or in active UK trading companies.
A successful applicant who has invested £1 million in the UK may apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after being continuously resident in the UK for 5 years.
In a report published in February 2014, the Migration Advisory Committee has recommended:
- that the minimum £1 million investment threshold is increased to £2 million;
- that the provision permitting the funds invested in the UK to be sourced by way of a loan is removed;
- that the current restrictions on permissible investments are relaxed to permit applicants to invest in a wider range of investment types; and
- the introduction of a premium route which would offer a successful applicant indefinite leave to remain in the UK after he has been continuously resident for just 2 years.
The recommendation is that there would be a limited number of premium route visas issued each year (the suggestion is around 100). Individuals interested in applying for a premium route visa would have to submit a single, sealed bid for those premium route visas which are available. The Migration Advisory Committee recommends that the reserve price should be set at £2.5 million, £500,000 of which would comprise a gift to the UK Government which should be put into a specific good causes fund. Any excess above the reserve price should also be put into the good causes fund.
As stated above a premium route visa would offer the successful applicant indefinite leave to remain in the UK after he has been continuously resident for just 2 years. The Migration Advisory Committee also recommends that the residence requirements for those who make use of the premium route visa should be relaxed so that, to qualify for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, a successful applicant only has to be resident in the UK for a period of 90 days per year, rather than the 185 days required under the current rules.
Summary of proposed changes
The recommendations will now be considered by the Home Office and there is no set timeframe for any changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa to be introduced. However, the Home Office has previously acted on Migration Advisory Committee recommendations within 2-4 months.