INDUSTRY NEWS APRIL 2016
THE POSSIBLE CLOSURE OF TIER 1 INVESTOR ROUTE
Among various amendments suggested to the Immigration Bill 2015 is the closure of Tier 1 (Investor) route. According to the proposal, applications for entry clearance in this category as well as switching from other visa categories would not be possible after 1 January 2017. Although it is not clear what has prompted this proposal, parliamentary publications of the debates indicate doubts in regards to the economic benefit of Tier 1 (Investor) visa route to the UK and the belief that it represents significant opportunities for money laundering.
The Tier 1 (Investor) category was initially introduced as a means for wealthy non-EU nationals and their families to reside in the UK, with a view to obtaining British passport. Introduced in 2008, the Tier 1 (Investor) scheme was thought to deliver significant economic benefits for the UK. The new view is that the scheme is open to abuse through the lack of effective, up-front and transparent checks on Tier 1 (Investor) visa applicants by the UK authorities as stated in the Transparency International UK report.
According to the Immigration Statistics published by the Home Office in December 2015, visa grants in Tier 1 (Investor) category has seen a 76% decline following the changes in November 2014, when the requirement of the minimum investment was raised from £1m to £2m which is now required to be invested in full by way of UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.
The decision as to whether the route will be closed has not been reached yet. Although countries such as Canada and Australia have significantly toughened their immigration rules in respect of investor-migrants, some EU countries still have very favourable requirements for the investors. The closure of the route in the UK might have a negative impact on the UK economy, losing the potential investors to other EU countries.
We are hopeful that the closure of Tier 1 (Investor) route will not take place. The recent changes to the Immigration Rules, including compulsory provision of the information as to the source of funds as part of the visa application process, criminal records checks and the requirement for the UK banks to undertake extensive due diligence on the source and origin of funds (having a UK investment account is a precondition) will be considered as sufficient measures for addressing the expressed concerns.
We will keep you updated on any new developments related to this proposal. If you require further information on the Tier 1 (Investor) visa, please contact us.
THE IMMIGRATION SKILLS CHARGE FOR EMPLOYERS-SPONSORS
The government has confirmed that it is going ahead with plans to reduce Britain’s reliance on migrant workers through a new skills charge. The new Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) is set to be introduced in April 2017 and will be levied on employer-sponsors that employ skilled non-EU migrants. Small or charitable organisations will pay the levy as a reduced rate of £364 whereas other businesses will incur an expense of £1,000 per employee per year.
There are, however, some exceptions. The ISC will not apply to PhD-level jobs and international students switching from student to working visas. This is seen as a key protection to help retain the talented workers and students who are essential for the UK economy.
The levy is expected to raise £250m a year for skills funding, including apprenticeships and to encourage businesses to employ British people.
SUPER PRIORITY VISA SERVICE LAUNCHED IN ASTANA
A 24-hour Super Priority Visa Service was launched on 22 March 2016 at the UK Visa Application Centre in Astana, Kazakhstan. Last year UK Visas and Immigration issued over 15 thousands UK visas for Kazakhstani citizens. It is believed that the service will contribute to a further increase in Kazakhstanis choosing to visit the UK.
The new service costs £750 in addition to the visa fee and User Pays Visa Application Centre fee. It is optional and is available for anyone applying for a long-term, multi-entry visas, valid for up to ten years, and also for a long-term study and work visas. It is a great service for those who would like to receive a speedy decision on their visa applications.
This section is only for your information and does not constitute legal advice.