In a shock statement on 17th February, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the closure of the UK Tier 1 Investor route (sometimes known as the “golden visa”) with “immediate effect”. The cancellation of this visa route came into force at 4.00 pm on the same day.
The Tier 1 Investor visa, part of the UK Points Based System, was open to wealthy individuals willing to invest a minimum of £2 million in the UK. The higher the amount of money invested, the quicker the individual was able to apply for settlement and eventually British citizenship.
The Home Office website states:
This route is now closed to new applicants. Individuals who already have entry clearance, leave to enter or remain as a Tier 1 (Investor) Migrant may apply under these rules to extend their stay or for indefinite leave to remain.
The effect of this Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules is to close the Tier 1 (Investor) Migrant route, as set out in Part 6A of the Immigration Rules, to new applications. These changes preserve the ability of those who already have leave to enter or remain as a Tier 1 (Investor) Migrant to extend their stay in the route, including an applicant’s ability to make an application for entry clearance outside the UK if they have held leave as a Tier 1 (Investor) Migrant in the 12 month period preceding the date of application, and to apply for settlement.
The media had been speculating that this visa route would be cancelled due to the hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, but no-one had expected it to be so sudden. The reasons given by the Home Secretary were “security concerns” and “wider corruption”.
Although new Tier 1 Investor applications are no longer accepted, Investors who are already in the UK on a Tier 1 visa will be allowed to apply for further leave to remain up until 17th February 2026. Applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain will be accepted up until 17th February 2028.
Business persons wishing to settle in the UK may now consider applying under one of the following options:
Innovator visa: The visa category is usually for experienced business people who are looking to set up a business in the UK. It allows you to stay in the UK with your family for up to 5 years. You can apply for permanent settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) after completing 5 years in the UK.
Global talent visa: Available to leaders in the fields of academia and research, arts and culture or digital technologies, this route requires an endorsement from an approved organisation called an Endorsing Body. The visa is granted for five years initially and successful applicants can either extend under the same category or apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years.
- Tech Nation (for DigiTech startups)
- Arts Council England (for Arts and Culture, including Fashion and Architecture)
- British Academy
- Royal Academy of Engineering
- Royal Society
- UK Research and Innovation [UKRI]
Scale Up visa: The UK Government is expected to bring in new Immigration Rules in Spring 2022 as part of its plan to make the UK a “global innovation hub” by 2035. The new Scale Up visa system will aim to encourage innovation by streamlining the process for ‘Scale Up’ businesses to bring those who are “very highly skilled” and “academically elite” to the UK. Scale Up businesses are defined as those which are fast growing, fulfilling the following requirements:
- an annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a three-year period greater than 20%; and
- a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the three-year period.
(This scheme has not yet been launched)