Continuation of immigration concessions for Syrian nationals

The Home Office has today announced a further renewal of concessions to the Immigration Rules to enable Syrian nationals lawfully in the UK to extend their stay here in light of the ongoing situation in Syria.

Specifically, Syrian nationals in the UK with valid leave (or leave which has expired within the last 28 days) in specified visa categories will continue to be able to apply to extend their stay in that visa category, or switch into a different specified category from within the UK (with some restrictions) rather than being required to return home first. Those applying will still need to meet the requirements of the relevant visa category, pay the appropriate fee, and adhere to the normal conditions of that category – no access to public funds, for example. If a required document is not accessible due to the civil unrest in Syria the Home Office may apply its discretion and the requirement to provide that document may be waived where appropriate.

These concessions will remain in force until 28 February 2015, whilst the UK government continues to monitor the situation in Syria.  Alongside this announcement the Home Office has also published guidance that explains the concessions for Syrian nationals.

Likely changes to Tier 1 (Investor) visa requirements

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the independent body that advises the UK government on immigration matters, has recently published a report on the Tier 1 (Investor) category of the Points-Based System. The UK government usually follows the MAC’s recommendations and therefore this is an important insight into forthcoming changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) category.

Key parts of the MAC’s recommendations include:
1. The current minimum threshold of £1 million for an investor visa be increased to £2 million.
2. The current restrictions on permissible investment instruments be relaxed so as to permit wider investment activity.
3. The “topping up rule” be removed which, in turn, would mean that the requirement to provide quarterly valuations would no longer be necessary.
4. The “premium” route, offering accelerated settlement for applicants, remain but residence requirements for such applicants be relaxed, such that the individual need only be resident in the UK for a period of 90 days per annum, rather than 185 days as is currently the case.
5. “Premium” visas should be limited (for example 100 a year) with interested applicants invited to submit a single, sealed bid for those visas, with a reserve price of £2.5 million.

Individuals considering applying for an investor visa are therefore advised to apply sooner rather than later as the above recommendations could be implemented within weeks, if not days, by the UK government.