The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) – the Committee behind the adaptation of the contested financial requirements for spousal visas – have been asked by the Government to review the impact of Tier 1 (Investor) visa category on the UK economy. The MAC is expected to release its findings in April 2014, with suggestions aimed at altering the requirements of the visa in order to boost the UK economy with long term benefits.
Minimum of £1 million
Currently the visa requires applicants to invest a minimum of £1 million into the UK– via a 75% investment in UK Governmental bonds or loan capital in registered UK companies, whilst maintaining 25% on deposit or buying assets– the benefit of which being the opportunity to follow a five year path to British Citizenship. The new proposals however could see applicants making a gift to the UK or even investing specifically in community projects or charitable projects. It is believed that these will prove more beneficial than what the current system requires. Further to this, it has been suggested that the new visa could offer applicants an accelerated route to British Citizenship.
The impact these changes will have on the UK economy are speculative, but what is clear is that the current UK Investor visa is not yielding the desired result upon the economy; with only 530 visa issued under this category in the past year, a considerably small number when compared with similar visas issued under the Points Based System. Further it could be that the UK investor visa route, when compared with other citizenship via investment routes within EU, may still face significant competition to attract potential investors; for example the newly announced Maltese Investor programme can offer applicants the benefits of EU based citizenship for as little as €650,000 – a more viable and convenient proposition that will certainly entice foreign nationals.
The changes, as ever, seem to highlight the governments continued struggle to balance the interests of the economy, alongside the benefits of migration and following the addition of the ‘Genuine Entrepreneur’ requirement for of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa in January 2013, looks to be the next step in their attempt to offer competitive and beneficial routes into UK based business. What is clear from this plan is the government’s response to the ever-growing plethora of pathways to gaining EU citizenship.
It is therefore advisable that if anyone is considering applying under the current UK Investor Visa rules, that they do so before these changes are expected to be announced next year.
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