The terms of Tier 1 investor visa are continually shifting. Changes to the terms and conditions in November 2014 were followed up by further changes that came into effect on 6th April 2015 and it is anticipated that there will be further changes in the months ahead. Such changes, inevitably, complicate matters for prospective applicants for whom the complexity of the application process can be difficult to negotiate.
The more recent changes involved a requirement for applicants for a Tier 1 Investor Visa – who must commit to a £2,000,000 investment under the terms of the visa – to set up a UK bank account for the specific purpose of accepting those funds. The move is seen as a way of government ‘outsourcing’ the due diligence and anti-money laundering checks on the source of the funds. Applicants are required to supply a letter from the bank affirming the status of this account alongside their application.
A more straightforward change, also introduced in April 2015, is the raising of the age limit for the Tier 1 Investor Visa from 16 to 18. The change is straightforwardly designed to address Home Office concerns as to the financial autonomy of younger adults.
Inevitably, the financial complexity of trans-national investments at this level means that refinements to the terms and conditions regulating the investments involved in the scheme are an ongoing matter. One further April amendment was itself a modification of a change announced in November 2014. The November amendment removed the obligation to top up any initial deposit in the event that the value of the initial deposit dropped below the qualifying level. The new rule requires simply that the proceeds of any sale are reinvested in a qualifying scheme, irrespective of any profit of loss arising from their initial sale. At the same time it was made clear that management fees, taxes and commissions could not be drawn from the minimum qualifying (£2,000,000) portion of the investment. In effect, applicants need to allow for these expenses over and above the two million figure; they may also take note of the extended timescale that are involved.
In such a fluid context applicants for Tier 1 Investor Visas are advised to update themselves thoroughly as to the changing regulatory framework before they make a formal application.