Sanwar Ali comment:
The Tier 1 Investor visa will only attract a limited number of people. Not many people have £2 million pounds to invest. If the UK is serious about attracting more entrepreneurs there needs to be a new scheme that facilitates this at a lower cost.
What is happening instead is that there are a number of schemes that hardly anyone qualifies for. It seems that very few people qualify under UK Innovator or Start-Up visa, because of the endorsing body requirement. It is also difficult to come under the Global Talent visa, which is only meant for a small number of top people. The only option for many may be the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa, which has no restrictions on shareholdings for visa holders, but does not usually lead to indefinite leave to remain. Business owners can also come under the Tier 2 General visa if they earn at least £159,600 a year (usually restricted to ten percent ownership), which for many is unaffordable.
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has announced that funds from the latest UK Budget will be allocated to the Department for International Trade (DfT) to help foreign investors with their Tier 1 investor visa applications.
Foreign investors interested in setting up a business in the UK can expect help and preferential treatment from the DfT with investor visa applications as the government looks to transform Britain into a global powerhouse for doing business.
The move comes as Britain prepares for life outside the European Union, with the government set to pump £5 billion into exporting. Sunak will hand over the funds to UK Export Finance (Ukef), the Government’s export credit agency that provides loans to overseas buyers of British goods and services.
UK government targets wealthy foreign investors
The Budget has outlined plans to target wealthy foreign investors wanting to set up businesses in the UK, by making the Tier 1 investor visa application process quicker, while assigning the DfT to support applicants as much as possible.
The Boris Johnson government is on a mission to transform Britain into an attractive destination for the world’s brightest and best students and skilled workers, while making the country an appealing proposition for overseas investment.
The new UK visa and immigration system, set to launch on 1 January 2021, has been set up strictly to target top global talent. Despite widespread criticism of the new immigration system from British business leaders, government mantra in recent months insists that ‘Britain is open for business.’
Tier 1 investor visa turmoil
The Tier 1 investor visa has been shrouded in turmoil in recent years, amid reports of corruption, money laundering and investment funds aiding criminal activity. In December 2018, the Tier 1 investor visa programme was reported to have been suspended, only for the Home Office to deny, just a few days later, that the scheme had been suspended.
A large scale investigation of the Tier 1 visa route took place under former Prime Minister Theresa May, following the nerve agent poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, on UK soil.
The investigation resulted in more than 100 Russian diplomats being banished from the UK, while a number of high profile foreign investors in Britain struggled to renew their Tier 1 investor visas, including Chelsea Football Club owner, Roman Abramovich, who has since obtained Israeli citizenship.
Meanwhile, a number of Indian millionaires were also targeted by the investigation.
Tier 1 investor visa turns a corner
The news that some funds from the UK Budget will be directed to the DfT to support the visa applications of foreign investors, comes as Home Office data revealed that Tier 1 investor visa applications among BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, China and India) have nearly doubled since 2015.
239 Tier 1 investor visa applications were made from BRIC countries in 2019, compared to 129 in 2015, with BRIC applications in 2019 representing 64% of the global aggregate.
Following an overhaul of the Tier 1 investor visa rules, it seems that interest in UK investment among foreign investors is once again rising. News that visa applications will be supported by the DfT could spark a further increase in UK investor visa applications in the future.
Further information, help, and advice for Tier 1 Visa scheme and other UK visas
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