he Home Office today introduced changes to the Tier 1 investor visa scheme, designed to allow wealthy non-European citizens and their families to live in the UK on a long-term basis in return for an investment into the UK economy. Various changes will take effect on 6th November, but any successful investor visa applicants that applied before that date are covered by the current £1m investment rules.

What changes are being made:

  • The minimum investment required to qualify for an investor visa will increase from £1m to £2m
  • 100% of the investment must be in UK trading UK companies, or UK government bonds (currently this is 75%)
  • Investors will need to "top-up" their investment if its market value falls below £2m
  • At a later date the government will consult about the rules on qualifying investments

Charlie Pring, senior counsel specialising in corporate immigration, said:

"It is no surprise that the government has decided to double the minimum investment to £2m, given that it has been £1m for the past 20 years, the current political climate and the Migration Advisory Committee's conclusion in February this year that the scheme does not provide sufficient financial benefit to the UK.

"The UK's economic stability, legal system and independent education sector will continue to be a draw for some wealthy foreign families, but there is increasing competition from a number of EU countries that also have investment-based visa schemes.

"With the Migration Advisory Committee's concern about the perceived lack of economic benefit to the UK from investment in UK Government bonds, in the longer term the attractiveness of the UK investor visa will be influenced by expected upcoming changes to the rules governing the type of UK investments that will qualify under the scheme."