Previously, high-net-worth individuals were able to streamline their process of entering the UK and investing within the country via the so-called golden visa rules. There will now, however, be some new restrictions on visas. These changes come as part of the reforms to Home Office policies that are designed to reduce money laundering and organized crime.
The Visa Changes
The Tier 1 Visa allows for a fast-track route for settling those who want to invest millions within the UK, making it much easier for them to get into the country and stay there. This visa was suspended in early December 2018, until the Home Office can place new rules into effect in 2019.
Once the reforms are put into place, applicants will need to give the UK comprehensive audits of both business and financial interests. They must also demonstrate control of the 2 million British Pounds needed in investment funds to get a Tier 1 Visa, with that control for at least two years.
There will also be restrictions as to what types of investments high-net-worth individuals looking for visas can make. They must invest in trading and active UK companies and can no longer invest in government bonds.
Reasons for the Change
The Tier 1 Visas or golden visas have received a great deal of criticism. Opponents of the visas say that they make it too easy for oligarchs and super-rich individuals to enter the UK and launder their stolen wealth. The golden visas have also become more popular, fueling concerns. Specifically, July 2018 figures indicated that applicants for this visa scheme were up by 46 percent, thanks to 400 applicants from overseas investors.
Part of a Larger Crackdown
The changes to the golden visa rules come as part of a larger crackdown on money laundering within the United Kingdom. Caroline Nokes, the immigration minister, stated that while they encourage genuine, legitimate investors who want to help the UK’s businesses and economy, they will not tolerate those who want to abuse the system. The new system will ensure that those who truly intend on supporting UK businesses will be able to use the immigration system as it was designed.
The reforms to the golden visa are not the only recent news surrounding this Tier 1 Visa program. Earlier in 2018, Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich withdrew an application for this type of visa. This came as a result of his close ties to Vladimir Putin and the increasingly tense relationships between the UK and Russia. Up to September, over 1,000 applications for Tier 1 Visas were granted in 2018.
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