Tier 1 Investor visas (‘golden visa’) to the UK were suspended effective 7 Dec 2018, which meant no applications would be accepted as of date in this category. Any applications under process before this date would be processed normally.

The Tier 1 investor visa also dubbed as ‘golden visa’ allowed high net worth individuals who could park £ 2 million in investment in UK to gain residence and to eventually qualify for British citizenship. The visa also allowed a fast track option for those investing £ 10 million to gain settlement in 2 years and those investing £ 5 million to gain settlement in 3 years – for them and their family members.

Whilst the British government claimed it was beneficial for the economy – its actual effect was still debatable. Whilst the previous requirements were for the applicants to demonstrate the investment funds and meet the ‘good character’ requirement. It is anticipated that the new rules are likely to involve a more comprehensive audit of the applicant’s financial status and their economic circumstances.

The new rules are likely to be introduced along with introduction of newer categories like ‘start up visas’ and ‘innovator visas’ for graduate entrepreneurs and Tier 1 entrepreneurs.

It is important to note that despite the suspension of Tier 1 Investor visas UK continues to be open to genuine investors and entrepreneurs with the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, visas for representatives of overseas business and Tier 2 sponsor licence route for companies.

Meanwhile high net worth investors continue to have the option of purchasing citizenship either through investment in real estate in Cyprus [€ 2 million] or through contribution to the Government Malta [€ 1 million], Bulgaria [€ 460,000] in addition to St Kitts & Nevis, Antigua, Dominica. Options are also available for investors to opt for residence permit in Malta, Portugal, Spain.

At The SmartMove2UK [unit of SmartMove Immigration] we strongly believe that vigilance needs to be maintained to prevent applicants claiming rights on the basis of laundering illegally obtained funds and only “genuine” investors should be granted visas – as this will then bring clear economic benefit to the host country.

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