Set to come into force from 6th April, 2015, the latest changes to the UK Investment Immigration program has removed the mandatory ‘top up’ rule, and has made it mandatory for applicants to open a bank or investment account in the UK. The revised rules are being widely seen as an attempt by the Home Office to discourage unsuitable applicants from gaining residence in the country.
New UK Investor Visa rules were last amended in November 2014, when the minimum investment requirement was increased from £1 million to £2 million. Under the New UK Investor visa rules, applicants were required to invest a sum of not less than £2 million in government bonds and equity loan investments in active UK businesses. Further, additional funds had to be introduced if the total investment fell below the minimum limit.
Now, investors are not required to introduce additional funds even if the qualifying investment breaches the minimum limit. This change is being viewed as a positive move that will simplify the process of management of the investment account. The rule requiring top-up of investment was an irritant as it was inevitable for the value of investments to fluctuate over time.
Another rule introduced by the Home Office requires applicants to open a bank or investment account in the UK. This move is aimed at deterring individuals with credit history problems from applying for the UK Investor Visa. Requiring an account with a bank or financial institution will result in further vetting of the Investor Visa application made by the investor.
The latest revision of the Investor Visa rules seem to be motivated by fears that unsuitable investors may be passing the vetting process and gaining the right to reside in the United Kingdom. While there has been no clear instance of such abuse, the new rule seeks to minimize the risk of potential abuse of the system.
Industry watchers are satisfied with the changes, calling it a good compromise between the government’s desire to vet applicants and the need for free flow of foreign investment into the economy. However, the government has been criticized for not having introduced these changes along with the amendments made in November 2014.
There were fears that the government may mandate investments in newer asset classes like Private Equity, Infrastructure, and Philanthropy. Such a move was being feared as most investment immigration applicants prefer capital preservation over high returns. The introduction of compulsory investment in riskier asset classes may have led to applicants preferring safer alternatives to the UK.
Appreciating the latest round of changes, immigration experts expressed optimism that the government would desist from tinkering with the Investor Visa rules again in the near future.
Source: International Advise