The Government engaged the Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) to undertake a survey of the Tier 1 (Investor) visa category for high‑net‑worth individuals, requesting that the MAC put forward a series of recommendations to the Home Office to make the Investor route a more attractive prospect for potential applicants.

The MAC’s recommendations identified several potential changes which would impact on UK Investors:

  • First, the MAC’s report calls for the minimum investment threshold of £1 million to be increased to £2 million, whilst other suggested changes – such as the relaxation of restrictions on permissible investment instruments and the removal of the requirement for Investors to provide quarterly portfolio valuations – are aimed at making the route more accessible for potential applicants.
  • One of the key changes proposed in the MAC’s report is a complete revamp of the fast‑track settlement option for Tier 1 Investors. Currently, Investors qualify for UK settlement (also known as permanent residence, or Indefinite Leave to Remain) after five years if they have maintained an investment of £1 million in the UK, and those who have invested £5 or £10 million in the UK are entitled to an accelerated route to settlement. Under the new proposals, this system would be replaced by a “premium route”, offering 100 Investors per year the chance to invest at least £2 million in the UK (with an additional donation of £500,000 to the UK Government for investment into specific good causes), and acquire the right to settle in the UK after just two years.
  • The MAC also recommends that the settlement absence requirements for premium route Investors be amended to permit Investors to remain resident in the UK for as little as 90 days per annum, rather than the current level of 185 days, and still qualify for settlement. Naturally, this would be of huge benefit to business people who are required, by the international nature of their business commitments, to travel abroad frequently.

It is unclear if or when when these changes will be implemented by the Home Office. However, we would recommend that any potential Investors considering applying do so at the earliest opportunity, under the current rules, in case the proposed £2 million investment threshold is introduced.