The United Kingdom government has suspended the Tier 1 Investor Visa route, due to concerns about corruption. The move has been taken as a part of the Home Office reforms that aim to fight organized crime and money laundering.
The Tier 1 investor visa is granted to foreigners who prove they will be running a business in the UK where they would invest at least £2 million. It is also known as “the golden scheme”, and it attracts wealthy non-EU/EEA nationals across the globe to live in the UK.
The scheme will be suspended from Friday, December 14, until 2019 when the program reopens. The government plans to reform the program before reopening it.
The UK Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes presented the new measures that are set to be introduced within the Tier 1 Investor visa. She said that the UK would always be open to legitimate and genuine investors who are committed to help the UK economy and businesses grow.
“However, I have been clear that we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system. That is why I am bringing forward these new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration system,” Minister Caroline said.
Some of the new reforms set to be included in the scheme are as follows:
- applicants will be required to provide comprehensive audits of their financial and business interests
- applicants are obliged to show they have had control of the £2m of investment funds required to obtain the tier 1 visa, for at least two years
- applicants will no longer be able to invest in government bonds as part of the reforms
- applicants must invest in active and trading UK companies
Anti-corruption campaigners have been speaking out against this type of visa for years now, claiming that it gave the opportunity to “ill-gotten riches from overseas” to come to the UK.
Following the attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, on April in Salisbury, England, the UK govt reviewed the visas of 700 wealthy Russians residing in the country. All of them gained British residency through the Tier 1 investor visa. PM May herself said at the time, that there is “no place” for corrupt Russian elites – or their money – in London.
Among Russian nationals who were required to submit extra proof of how they made their money was also the Russian billionaire businessman, investor, and politician, Roman Abramovich. Oligarch Abramovich who is also the owner of Chelsea Football club withdrew his UK visa extension application, and instead obtained an Israeli passport. Abramovich has Jewish roots and the Israeli Law of Return, grants the right of getting Israel citizenship to every Jew wishing to move there.