In the crackdown of financial crime, Ministers are halting a gold-plated visa scheme offering foreign investors a fast-track to settling in the UK. To invest and encourage rich people from outside the EU Tier 1 investor visas were introduced in 2008.
A visa £ 2m investment bought and indefinite leave remains after five years. But concerns have raised the scheme was being used to launder money. Minister says its suspension will end after an audit process is introduced.
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes, said “We will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system” and declared the suspension would come into effect at midnight.
Nokes also added “I am bringing forward these new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration system”
In 2017 More than 1,000 Tier 1 visa was issued with the highest numbers going to Chinese and Russian investors. Previously, the scheme required that applicants had a UK bank account and were of good character.
The Home office said that “from next year, independent, regulated auditors will assess applicants financial and business interests and check they have had control of the funds for at least two years. Successful candidates have been eligible for visas lasting three years and four months, with two -years extensions available.
For settled status, the government hoped to attract the brightest and best by allowing investors to bring forward the date at which they could apply for settled status. Spending £ 10m in the UK cut the wait to just two years.
The Migration Advisory Committee said three years later that the Scheme brought little economic benefit for British citizens because most applicants were buying gilts to qualify- so were effectively loaning the government money, rather than investing in the UK.
Talking about the future provision The Home Office said that in future there will be provision for pooled investments, supported by the government, to back projects with a clear economic benefit to the UK such as supporting small and medium-sized businesses.