Virginia, US
I was concerned to see proposed amendments to the Immigration Bill 2015 that would see the UK’s respected Tier 1 Investor programme close within the next year. 
 
Baroness Hamwee and Lord Paddick, Liberal Democrat Members of the House, tabled the amendment as part of a larger debate in light of the recent refugee crisis. Particular concern was raised regarding the sale of already coveted London homes to overseas buyers through anonymous offshore companies, with Lord Wallace of Saltaire commenting: “The Tier 1 (Investor) Visa is worthy of a tax haven, not a self-respecting sovereign country”. 
 
Whilst there are no murmurs as yet that this mirrors any Government intention, I consider two points worthy of note here. 
 
Firstly, Home Office statistics show a significant decrease in application numbers since the investment threshold was doubled to £2 million in November 2014. I think it is fair to view that comparison in the context of a significant uptake in applications immediately prior to that change, and the resultant drop in the period thereafter due to applications which may have been lodged in 2015 going in before the rules changed. That said, in the past questions on the tangible impact of the Tier 1 Investor visa have been raised and discussed widely, although Tier 1 Investor requirements mean that the route attracts applicants who are looking to not only invest in the UK but settle and contribute to the economy in a permanent capacity.
 
Secondly, there are concerns as to the alleged inconsistent practice in the standard of due diligence and KYC measures undertaken at different stages of the application process, including those carried out by British financial institutions, who assist clients in the transfer of funds into the United Kingdom and with whom bank accounts must be opened prior to an immigration application being filed.   
 
I expect both issues to be raised in the course of debates which will flow from this proposed amendment to the Bill and will follow the Government’s response closely and present it here for you. I would encourage the Government to frame any discussions around the positive effect that foreign investors have on the UK economy and that, rather than abolishing the Tier 1 Investor Visa, new incentives are introduced to attract more investors into the UK.