The ongoing review of more than 6,000 Tier-1 Investor visas makes for great headlines, but is unlikely to lead to any real change to the UK’s investment immigration program.
Tier-1 Investor Visa Over the Years
Introduced in 2008, the UK reformed the program in 2015 and 2019. The new rules introduced stringent compliances related to legal source of funds, duration of ownership of the funds, and routing of investments through intermediaries.
However, these rules did not apply retrospectively, which raised concerns over quality of due diligence done for those who applied between 2008 and 2015. This prompted the three-year comprehensive review of around 6,300 Tier-1 Investor visas issued during this period.
Significant Changes or Impact Unlikely
The way the Tier-1 Investor visa is structured makes it unlikely that the review will have any significant impact. An applicant investing £2 million qualifies for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in five years. This period is reduced to just two years if one invests £10 million.
This means even those who applied for the visa in 2015 have probably already qualified for ILR or permanent residence. Those who applied in 2008 may well have become citizens.
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If yet to receive ILR, then a violation of the visa rules can automatically result in visa revocation and deportation. However, it is more complicated for those who have received ILR.
And if already a citizen, then only clear and unimpeachable evidence of fraud will ensure the decision to revoke citizenship will stand scrutiny by the courts.
Further, the review cannot and does not seek to impose rules retrospectively. All the applicant needs to prove is that they complied with all rules and compliances applicable at the time of the application.
Since the rules covered legal ownership of funds and duration of ownership in 2008, it’s unlikely that the review will throw up clear and unimpeachable proof of massive violations.
Net Result: Bad Press for the Tier-1 Investor Visa
The net result of this review, as per industry watchers, is likely to be unnecessary bad press for the investment immigration program. A few clear cases of improper due diligence may be weeded out but that’s likely to have minimal impact on the future.
Even presuming the 2008-2015 process was badly flawed with extremely poor due diligence, the fall in numbers since 2015 may be evidence of the robustness of the reformed due diligence process.
With investment immigration already a controversial topic, the review is likely to result in damning headlines and bad PR all around, with very little real change.General Information: Contact us to receive more information about this article.
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