UNITED KINGDOM ANNOUNCES SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO ITS TIER 1 (INVESTOR) VISA PROGRAM
Imagine living in the United Kingdom – a land of history, culture, ethnic diversity, political and economic prominence, and highly-regarded healthcare and education. The United Kingdom’s Tier 1 (Investor) visa program is a “residency by investment” program that has offered foreigners the opportunity to make certain investments and thereby be able to reside in the United Kingdom. On March 7, the United Kingdom Home Office announced several significant changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa program.
Perhaps the most significant change to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa program is that applicants now will need to have held the funds that they will invest in the United Kingdom for at least 2 years before making their application or else they will need to provide evidence of the source of their funds. Previously, the required holding period to avoid disclosing the source of funds to the United Kingdom Home Office was only 90 days.
Another important change to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa program is that the requirement that applicants open a United Kingdom bank account to make their investment now is being tightened so that United Kingdom banks will need to carry out extensive due diligence and “know your client” checks on the applicant and provide a statement confirming that these checks have been done in a bank letter which will be part of the application.
Other key changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa program are that now the purchase of United Kingdom government bonds will no longer be a qualifying investment, the definition of “active and trading United Kingdom company” as a qualifying investment will be tightened to require that the company have a substantial presence in the United Kingdom (including that it must be registered with Companies House and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and have a United Kingdom business bank account showing regular trade of its own goods and services and at least two United Kingdom-based employees who are not directors), the definition of “price of investment” means the amount paid by the applicant for the investment, and not its face value, investments in intermediary vehicles will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, and pooled investment vehicles may be a qualified investment if the vehicles receive funding from the United Kingdom government or a devolved government department or one of its agencies.
These changes are generally effective for all new Tier 1 (Investor) visa applications filed on or after March 29.
While the above-described changes are important, they do not change the basic elements of the United Kingdom’s Tier 1 (Investor) visa program – if you invest 2 million pounds in certain qualifying United Kingdom investments, you can apply to indefinitely settle in the United Kingdom after 5 years (if you invest 5 million pounds, after 3 years, and if you invest 10 million pounds, after 2 years).
It is believed that additional changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa program may be announced later this year.
If you would like more information on the United Kingdom’s Tier 1 (Investor) visa, or other “residency by investment” programs in the United Kingdom, please contact CitizenMatch, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (773) 349-6693, for assistance.