The Home Affairs Committee has published its latest report on the working of the UK’s immigration system.
In relation to the Tier 1 (Investor) route, the Committee has commented as follows:
‘The Committee was alarmed by Professor Sir David Metcalf’s admission about the purchase of gilts for citizenship. The current evidence suggests that there appears to be very little benefit. While the Government considers the options for a system more beneficial to the UK, as outlined in the MAC report, we recommend the Home Office suspend the Tier 1 (Investor) visa route. The practice of other European Union Member States selling citizenship is extremely worrying. As the Minister for Immigration pointed out, the UK has neither power nor control over the policies of other EU States in this regard. We do not believe Britain should follow the example of Malta, for the reasons stated in evidence. The Committee recommends that the Home Office seek urgently to petition the European Commission about this practice. Otherwise Britain’s immigration controls would be in danger of being sidestepped by those with sufficient wealth…
We are perturbed at the new recommendation by the Migration Advisory Committee to sell British settlement by auction. This process is riddled with difficulties and combined with the reduction in standards required of those gaining citizenship, including limited or no English or Welsh language skills, will be a recipe for disaster. A requirement to speak English or Welsh has been a cornerstone of the development of immigration policy under successive Governments. If the Home Office are to accept these proposals, there must be thorough and robust due-diligence applied to these potential new citizens to ensure that they are fit and proper persons to be admitted to settle in this country and placed on the path of citizenship. We will examine the Home Secretary on this when she next appears before the Committee‘.
We previously reported on the MAC’s recommendations for changes to this route.
Whilst the concept of auctioning visas to the highest bidder was always going to be controversial and, in our opinion, unlikely to be adopted by the government, the idea of suspending this route pending the government’s review is equally concerning. If the UK is to continue to attract investment and talent from around the world, it is imperative that it has a stable immigration system rather than one that continues to be changed – or is threatened with change – on an almost daily basis.