The Home office has made announcements regarding the reform of golden visa schemes which aims at controlling dirty money coming into the UK at the wake of Skripal attack.
Under the Tier-1 (Investor) scheme reforms, applicants are expected to show evidence of being in control of £2m which they need to have for 2 years, instead of 90 days, or proof of the source of such funds.
The golden visa has in the past been one of the most popular routes which have attracted a lot of wealthy Russian and Chinese investors, who are now resettled in the UK. However, in the fight against money-laundering, the UK has been reviewing the scheme, especially as its relations with Russia deteriorate due to the death, by poisoning, of Sergi Skripal, a Russian agent in Salisbury last year.
Earlier this year, the owner of Chelsea football club and a Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich withdrew the application of his golden visa as a result of this sour relation between the two countries. Abromovich was also deprived of a residency visa in Switzerland due to Police warning to officials, describing him as a “threat to public security” and risk to the reputation of the country.
As a result, Russians with Tier-1 visas decreased from 40 to 29 in 2017 and 2018 respectively. That was the least number ever witnessed since the introduction of the visa in 2008.
From March 29, 2019, the reformed scheme will be put into operation. Also, two new visas – the Innovator route and Startup visa
has been announced by the Home Office to be operational from March, 29.
The startup visa, which is to replace the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route, is for those who wish to venture into business for the first time in the UK. Any individual, not just graduates, is eligible for this visa and the visa doubles up its time from a year to 2 years. This is to provide sufficient time for the growth of the business before a further application is made.
While the startup visa is for business beginners, the innovator route is for more cognizant business people, with £50,000 – instead of the previously stated £200,000 - to invest in their business.
The Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes said that her priority was to make sure that the UK is still viewed as an attractive business destination for talented business people.
Partner at Charles Russell Speechyls and specialist in business immigration, Rose Carey, said that the changes made will be welcomed by the investors. She added that the change to be felt as a result of the replacement of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa scheme
with the new innovator and startup visa will be positive. This is because independent endorsement and assessment will be done by experts and from other categories of visas like Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa
, which has worked well.
“With the upcoming Brexit and its threats to the country’s economy, investment from outside the European Union is a welcomed activity and should be encouraged. Also, the demonstration of UK’s willingness and openness to businesses will be an appreciative message,” said Rose Carey.
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