Tier 1 Investors – Route closing?
In January 2016 a proposal was aired in the House of Lords to do away with the Tier 1 investment visa. The proposal, to modify the terms of the 2015 Immigration Bill, was made by Baroness Hamwee and Lord Wallace of Saltaire. Under the terms of their proposal, the Tier 1 investment option would be phased out ‘no later’ than January 1st 2017, with new applicants and those switching from other visa categories both affected.
It remains to be seen whether the proposal will be passed into law. It is in the process of going through the procedures of the House of Lords. However, if it does come in to force, the closure of the Tier 1 Investor route to British Citizenship will mark a defining point in Britain’s immigration history.
As evidence for the case for scrapping the visa, the Lords pointed to the fact that only around 200 applications were made during the course of 2015, which was down from 1,172 in 2014. That reduction is attributed to an increase in the level of financial commitment required to qualify for this category of visa, which is up from £1 million to £2 million in November 2014.
At a time when the movement of high net worth individuals to the UK is a hot topic for political debate – Prime Minister David Cameron’s inadvertent comments on the subject of the fantastic levels of corruption in Nigeria and Afghanistan in early May triggered a media frenzy on the issue – support to retain the Tier 1 investment route is likely to be muted at best.
Irrespective of those immediate political conditions – which of course did not apply when the proposal to drop the Tier 1 investment route was aired in the House of Lords – the popularity of citizenship by investment schemes elsewhere in the developed world remains undimmed. The Global Investment Immigration Council, for example, points to a global surge in the uptake of such schemes.
It remains to be seen what the fate of the Tier 1 Investment visa may be. Its removal would put the UK in a highly unusual position in relation to other similar economies.
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