Important changes to the Tier 1 Investor Visa Category

The Home Office announced further substantial changes to the Immigration Rules yesterday 26th February. HC1025 contains a staggering 243 pages of Rule changes and amendments to certain substantial categories which will take time to digest before commencement ( of most ) on 6th April 2015. The Tier 1 Investor Visa category sees significant changes to the Rules and requirements:

  •  A requirement is being added for prospective investors to open a UK-regulated investment account before making an initial application. This change will ensure UK banks carry out due diligence checks on investors before they apply for entry clearance or leave to remain, not after.
  • The minimum age of applicants in this category is being increased from 16 to 18. This change is being made to reflect the fact that it is not normally possible for 16- and 17-year old applicants to be wholly in control of their own funds and investments.
  • Changes are being made to the requirement for applicants to maintain their investments. The changes will mean applicants will no longer need to invest additional capital if they sell part of their investments at a loss, but they will be required to maintain all their capital within their investment portfolios. Buying and selling investments will continue to be permitted, providing the investor does not withdraw any capital. This change is intended to remove an unintended incentive for investors to invest in UK government bonds rather than to invest in UK companies.
  •  The restriction on investing in companies principally concerned with property investment, property development or property management is being amended slightly, for consistency with the Rules for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category
  • Minor technical changes are being made to evidential requirements.

It is also noteworthy that a definition of property appears  providing guidance as to what has been an often confusing area : Points will not be awarded if this business will be mainly engaged in property development or property management.

"Property development or property management" in this context means any development of property owned by the applicant or his business to increase the value of the property with a view to earning a return either through rent or a future sale or both, or management of property (whether or not it is owned by the applicant or his business) for the purposes of renting it out or resale. The principle is that business income must be generated from the supply of goods and/or services and not derived from the increased value of property or any income generated through property, such as rent."

The full statement is to be found here. Tier 1 amendments commence Page 58.