The United Kingdom will no longer offer the Tier 1 Investor visa to those looking to migrate to the country in exchange for a financial investment. According to officials at the Home Office, the Tier 1 Investor Visa is being discontinued due to specific problems relating to the particular immigration avenue, including corruption, fraud, and other illegal practices (and the attendant danger to UK security).
Offered since 2008, historically, the Tier 1 Investor Visa was available to applicants for UK immigration who invested a minimum amount of money in the country via actively trading UK-based business entities. The visa was created with the goal of attracting rich investors to the country; ideally, the money they paid for their visa would be filtered back into the UK economy. In practice, however, the financial benefits of this visa scheme were not sufficiently realized by the government (hence, in part, the Home Office’s decision to discontinue it wholesale, rather than simply continue to enact further reforms).
In the months leading to the visa’s recent discontinuation, officials had attempted to tighten restrictions and fix longstanding concerns in the hopes of allowing the immigration avenue to remain open (the government is expected to release an official summery of key observations about the scheme gleaned through these efforts at a later date). However, these efforts, which began in 2015, were ultimately not enough to save the Tier 1 Investor visa from being closed in late February of this year.
According to the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, the closure of the Investor visa is an extension of the broader initiative to purge the UK immigration system of problematic visa avenues, which attract financial fraud, corruption, or even threaten the country’s security by granting visas to problematic foreigners. The Innovator visa—another type of visa that is predicated on the applicant making a financial investment in the UK—will be similarly examined and reformed, in order to ensure that it reflects the Home Office’s invigorated commitment to routing out both corruption and fraud throughout its various visa schemes. In addition to reform efforts targeting fraud and corruption, the Innovator Visa will also be subject to new eligibility requirements meant to ensure that the requisite investment made by the visa recipient will in fact result in benefits to the UK economy (such as jobs creation). This would be a departure from the old policy, which simply allowed an investor in a UK financial visa to simply deposit money in UK banks, for example.
At the moment, current holders of Tier 1 Investor Visas may continue to apply to extend their visas, apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, and apply to have their eligible dependents move to the UK.