Investor visa scheme halted in money laundering crackdown

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File image of a Border Force officer checking passports at Heathrow AirportPicture copyright
PA

Ministers are halting a “gold-plated” visa scheme providing international buyers a fast-track to settling within the UK, as a part of a crackdown on monetary crime.

Tier 1 investor visas have been launched in 2008 to encourage wealthy individuals from outdoors the EU to put money into the UK.

A £2m funding purchased a visa and indefinite depart to stay after 5 years. However issues have been raised the scheme was getting used to launder cash.

Its suspension will finish after an audit course of is launched, ministers say.

“We won’t tolerate individuals who don’t play by the principles and search to abuse the system,” mentioned Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes, saying the suspension would come into impact at midnight on Friday.

“That’s the reason I’m bringing ahead these new measures which is able to ensure that solely real buyers, who intend to assist UK companies, can profit from our immigration system.”

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Greater than 1,000 Tier 1 visas have been issued in 2017 with the best numbers going to Chinese language and Russian buyers.

The scheme beforehand required that candidates had a UK checking account and have been of “good character”.

From subsequent yr, unbiased, regulated auditors will assess candidates’ monetary and enterprise pursuits and test they’ve had management of the funds for at the very least two years, the Residence Workplace mentioned.

Profitable candidates have been eligible for visas lasting three years and 4 months, with two-year extensions out there.

In 2011, the federal government hoped to draw the “brightest and finest” by permitting buyers to convey ahead the date at which they might apply for settled standing. Spending £10m within the UK minimize the wait to simply two years.

Nevertheless, three years later, the Migration Advisory Committee mentioned the scheme introduced little financial profit for British residents as a result of most candidates have been shopping for gilts to qualify – so have been successfully loaning the federal government cash, slightly than investing within the UK.

The Residence Workplace mentioned in future there will likely be a provision for pooled investments, supported by the federal government, to again tasks with a “clear financial profit to the UK” equivalent to supporting small and medium-sized companies.

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