The UK Government has shut down the Tier 1 Investor visa route at short notice and with immediate effect, citing security concerns and a failure to deliver benefits for the country.
Whilst there had been previous talk of shutting the scheme down five years ago and the general consensus being that a review of the rules would very much be welcomed, the sudden closure has come as a shock to advisors and those who would seek to apply.
The Investor visa was a popular option for high net worth individuals looking to settle in the UK, but there are other options available, including a new ‘Scale Up’ visa due to be introduced shortly. The most suitable alternatives for high net worth individuals and families include:
- Innovator visa – available to migrants planning to launch a new ‘innovative’ business in the UK that delivers new products or services to the market. This scheme grants a three year visa which can be extended for another three years.
- Global talent visa – available to leaders in the fields of academia and research, arts and culture or digital technologies. This scheme requires an endorsement from an approved organisation and grants a five year visa which can be extended each time it expires.
- Scale Up visa – this scheme has not yet been launched, but is aimed at helping UK start-up stage businesses employ migrants who are ‘very highly skilled’ or ‘academically elite’. Businesses will need to meet criteria including evidence of fast growth and a minimum of 10 employees.
The Investor visa offered UK residency for between two to five years, depending on the size of investment into shares or loans in UK registered companies. It is not known at this stage whether a new version of the Investor visa will be created which changes some of the rules around the level of investment and the types of investments that can be made.
Tracy Evlogidis, head of Withers’ UK Immigration team, comments: “This is a sudden change to our visa rules which will catch some people by surprise. But the UK is still very much open for people looking to relocate, particularly those who can contribute skills, innovation and energy to the economy and British society. With other options available, we are here to help clients identify the most appropriate visa and to assist with the application process.”