New Investor Visa Rules from 6 November 2014
The long expected changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa category come into force today, 6 November 2014.
As expected, the minimum level of investment has doubled from £1 million to £2 million. In fact, in reality it has more than doubled, as under the new rules 100% of the money must be invested in government bonds, share capital or loan capital in UK companies, whereas before only £750k of the £1 million had to be invested in that way. The remaining £250k was able to be used to buy other assets, such as property, or kept in the bank.
Although the minimum figure has doubled, it is not likely to significantly affect the numbers of applicants. The category has been very popular with high-net individuals of all nationalities, as it affords them the freedom to live and do business in the United Kingdom without restriction and can lead to Indefinite Leave to remain in as little as two years.
However none of the money can now be borrowed and the applicant (or his/her spouse or civil partner) must own the money when the application is made. Previously, borrowed money could be used as long as the applicant had at least £2 million worth of assets.
Another welcome change is the scrapping of the requirement to top-up the investment if it fell below the minimum level.
The Home Office has promised to introduce more flexible investment rules, but for the moment the permitted investments remain the same.
Overall I think the changes are sensible and workable. It is a shame the relaxed investment rules were not introduced at the same time but hopefully they will be introduced soon.