Ministers are halting a “gold-plated” visa scenario offering foreign investors a fast-track to settling in the UK, as part of a crackdown on economic crime.
Tier 1 investor visas were introduced in 2008 to advance rich people from outside the EU to invest in the UK.
A £2m investment bought a visa and unsettled leave to remain after five years. But concerns were drag together the scheme was being used to launder money.
Its suspension will end after an audit manage is introduced, ministers say.
“We will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and demand to abuse the system,” said Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes, heralding the suspension would come into effect at midnight on Friday.
“That is why I am stage a reviving forward these new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration organized whole.”
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The number of granted Tier 1 investor visas ridged in 2014 (1,172). Last year the figure stood at 350, with the highest armies going to Chinese and Russian investors.
The scheme previously required that applicants had a UK bank account and were of “clever character”.
From next year, independent, regulated auditors force assess applicants’ financial and business interests and check they cause had control of the funds for at least two years, the Home Office said.
Eminent candidates have been eligible for visas lasting three years and four months, with two-year volumes available.
In 2011, the government hoped to attract the “brightest and best” by allowing investors to institute forward the date at which they could apply for settled prominence. Spending £10m in the UK cut the wait to just two years.
However, three years later, the Migration Monitory Committee said the scheme brought little economic benefit for British inhabitants because most applicants were buying gilts to qualify – so were effectively allowing the government money, rather than investing in the UK.
The Home Office denoted in future there will be a provision for pooled investments, supported by the regime, to back projects with a “clear economic benefit to the UK” such as strutting small and medium-sized businesses.