All that glitters is not gold – Stricter rules on the “Golden” Visa (UK Tier 1 Investor Visa)

Amid a crackdown on organised crime, the UK Government has recently announced stricter rules on so-called golden ticket investment visas, which allows non-EU nationals to stay in the UK if they invest £2 million.

The Tier 1 (Investor) visa was introduced in 2008 and it was designed for high net worth individuals who wanted to relocate themselves and their families to the UK by investing millions of pounds into the country.

Historically, the category has been attractive to those from overseas looking to make the UK their home, with the visa leading to settlement after a five-year stay and ultimately, to UK citizenship. A £2 million investment could secure a visa and indefinite leave to remain after five years. More than 1,000 Tier 1 investor visas were granted in the year ending September 2018.

The new Home Office rules that take effect in April will require visa applicants to prove that they have had control of the funds forming part of the required £2 million investment for at least two years rather than 90 days, prior to the visa application.

Other measures will aim to increase the benefits to UK companies by excluding investment in Government bonds and strengthening the rules to ensure investments are made in active and trading UK companies.

There have been encouraging signs from the Home Secretary who said it would relax conditions for entry in two other Tier One Visas: the start-up visa (formally ‘graduate entrepreneur’) and the ‘innovator visa’ (previously the ‘entrepreneur visa’). The processes will be made faster and smoother for entrepreneurs coming to the UK.

In particular, the Home Office have announced that it will replace a visa route which was exclusively for graduates, opening it up to a wider pool of talented business founders. They will have two years, rather than one, to make their business a success before applying for further visa.

Caroline Nokes, Minister of State for Immigration, said her priority was “making sure that talented business people continue to seek the UK”.