Tier 1 Investor – new rules and new restrictions

Until 6 November 2014 Tier 1 Investors could fulfil the requirements of the visa scheme on the basis of an investment of £1 million. But the Home Office had come to the conclusion that this was a paltry sum, and on that date the minimum amount of investment was dramatically increased to £2 million (but the accelerated routes for investments of £5 million and £10 million remained unscathed).

Fortunately for existing Tier 1 Investors, the Home Office did not on that date require them to suddenly increase their investment to £2 million. They were allowed to carry on, on the basis of their £1 million investment, and they were able to extend their visas and eventually acquire settlement if they met all the other requirements.

Anybody who applied for their visa before 6 November 2014 could go on the £1 million investment route and many of these migrants were not affected by the subsequent changes. The required period for settlement in this situation is five years, so many of those on this route will already have acquired settlement, and in the next few months probably most of the remainder will have made their applications.

Somebody who, for example, successfully applied for a Tier 1 Investor visa on the basis of £1 million investment at the very beginning of November 2014 will likely have been granted the visa in late 2014 or early 2015, so a person in this position will in many cases be able to apply for settlement by early 2020.

But although it may be possible to apply for settlement after five years it is not mandatory to do so. Some investors were not able to apply for settlement after five years, and in many cases the reason was a very annoying requirement in the immigration rules that during the qualifying period the applicant must not have spent more than 180 days per 12 months outside the UK.

But such migrants who were unable to apply for settlement were able to apply for a further visa extension and, as long as the relevant requirements were met, they could thus obtain further leave and the right to carry on living in the UK.

So it seemed that an investor on the £1 million investment route could go on extending their visas for ever and continue to enjoy the right to stay outside the UK for long periods.

But, alas, the Home Office has now decided to put a stop to this favourable situation. In early October 2019 they implemented some more annoying items in the immigration rules, and Tier 1 Investors on the £1 million investment route are now facing new restrictions.

Specifically, such investors who are hoping to extend or re-extend their leave must do so by 6 April 2020. After that date it will not be possible, and anybody who wants to extend will have to do so on the basis of an investment of at least £2 million. An investor in this situation would therefore need to increase their investment to that amount.

And £1 million investors who are hoping to apply for settlement must do so by 6 April 2022. After this date it will only be possible to apply for settlement on the basis of an investment of at least £2 million. And, even more annoyingly, the applicant will have to start the qualifying period for settlement all over again from scratch.

We must warn readers that this is a simplified account: there are also new rules about permitted investments. Since March 2019 investment in UK Government bonds has been prohibited and new rules have now also been made which place time restrictions on reliance on such investments.

So it hardly needs to be said that existing Tier 1 Investors relying on a £1 million investment need to think carefully about what they want to do. If you are such a person and are uncertain or confused it may be worthwhile investing a little more into a competent lawyer who can give you good and accurate advice.