As you may be aware, a new Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules was published on 9 September 2019. There are some minor but nonetheless important amendments that we think you should be aware of.
Investments in Government Bonds (gilts)
Tier 1 (Investor) applicants who submitted their visa/residence permit application before 29 March 2019 are able to invest in gilts but they must extend by 5 April 2023 and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) by 5 April 2025. For applications made after these dates gilts will no longer count as qualifying investments.
- It has now been clarified that where the applicant's initial grant of leave as a Tier 1 (Investor) was under the Rules before 29 March 2019 (i.e. when one can still invest in gilts), and the date of the extension application is on or after 6 April 2023, the applicant cannot rely on investments that were held in gilts on or after 6 April 2023. In other words, if an applicant were to apply for an extension on or after 6 April 2023, the investments must be moved to other qualifying investments (e.g. share / loan capital of an active and trading UK registered company) on or before 5 April 2023. Otherwise, the applicant will not be able to rely on their investment to extend the visa in the future.
- Similarly, where the initial grant of leave was before 29 March 2019, and the date of the ILR application is on or after 6 April 2025, the applicant cannot rely on investments that were held in gilts on or after 6 April 2025. The investments must be moved to other qualifying investments on or before 5 April 2025.
The practical consequences of the above is that if you have a client under the pre 29 March 2019 Rules who has invested in gilts, and the client intends to keep extending their visa in the future (e.g. they have no intention to apply for ILR or cannot do so due to the residence requirements), the client will need to ensure their investment has been moved to other qualifying investments on or before 5 April 2023.
£1 million investment top-up
In relation to the £1m investor clients (i.e. those who applied for an Investor visa under the Rules in place before 6 November 2014), they must extend before 6 April 2020 and apply for ILR before 6 April 2022.
It has now been clarified that where they need to apply for an extension on or after the cut-off date of 6 April 2020 (and will therefore need to top up to at least £2 million), the remaining balance of the £2 million investment must have been made before the date of the application and be shown in the most recent portfolio report. In other words, if a client has recently extended his visa (say September 2019 and their visa should be valid until September 2021), the client will have until September 2021 to top up and re-structure their investment (subject to your usual reporting cycle).
The £1m investor clients can choose to top up their investment by investing in gilts, so long as their extension / ILR application is submitted on or before 5 April 2023 / 2025 as appropriate. Bear in mind that if they are extending on or after 6 April 2023 they can no longer rely on investments in gilts and would need to amend their investment before this date.
The Home Office Policy team has not amended the Rules for ILR for clients topping up from £1 million to £2 million. This means where a £1 million investor client cannot apply for ILR before 6 April 2022, time spent under the £1 million investment would be fully disregarded for the purposes of ILR. Only time spent with the investment at the £2 million level will count towards ILR. There is a risk therefore that many investors who are in the UK under the pre 6 November 2014 route and unable to apply for ILR due to excessive absences will need to start the 5-year qualifying period of residence again from when they top up to £2 million and therefore may want to top up as soon as possible.
It is imperative that you ensure your clients are aware of the above changes and take legal advice where necessary.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.