-- May 2015 ~ Travel and Immigration 101

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Changes to the UK Investor Visa

Tier 1 (Investor) visas were introduced in 2008 to allow individuals with at least £1m available to invest to remain in the UK on a long-term basis. They are seen as a shortcut for wealthy foreign nationals to become British citizens. Surprisingly, Chinese nationals accounted for 43% of all Tier 1 visas issued last year. Of the minimum £1m capital invested, no less than £750,000 must be invested in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies. The remaining £250,000 can be invested in other UK assets such as un-mortgaged UK property or cash held in a UK bank account. One challenging condition is that if the value of the investor’s overall investment drops below the £1m threshold at any point during the visa application period, it must be ‘topped up’ by the next reporting period and as such, the portfolio should be cognisant of changes in market movements.
A temptation would be to invest entirely in low risk assets such as UK government bonds but that might not necessarily be the ‘risk-free’ option in the current macro-economic environment, with the requirements for keeping the portfolio’s book value above the £1m threshold. However on February 26th, 2015, the Home Office announced significant changes to the Tier 1 visa immigration rules and these changes will come into effect on November 6th of this year.

Changes include raising the minimum investment threshold from £1m to £2m whilst the full investment sum must be invested in permissible investments rather than 75% of the total as under the previous rules. It is also no longer acceptable to source the investment sum by loan. Most interestingly, the ‘topping up’ requirement has been removed and instead, investors will need to purchase new qualifying investments only if they sell part of their portfolios. The increase in threshold from £1m to £2m is substantial but investors are afforded a higher degree of freedom, likely meaning that this scheme will remain attractive for high net worth individuals seeking to gain a foothold in the UK.

Any visa applications submitted before November 6th, 2014, will be considered in accordance with current rules and clients who have already held a Tier 1 visa would not be affected by the new rules, since they do not have a retrospective effect. Nonetheless, the increase in flexibility has allowed new Chinese Tier 1 clients to adjust the risk levels of their portfolios more freely.

The removal of the requirement for portfolio top up will lead to many investors building a portfolio wholly made up of UK government bonds, due to the principle being safely retained whilst earning a coupon payment on the bonds. This scheme offers a lower opportunity cost than taking investment risk for higher returns, given that the primary purpose of the investment is to achieve British Citizenship. Amid the uncertainty surrounding the 2017 Brexit referendum, a growing number of multi-asset fund and wealth managers are reducing their holdings of UK equities. Many Chinese Tier 1 clients will opt to invest heavily in UK government bonds despite the all-time high reached by the FTSE 100 this week.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Seair, Skyjet Airlines operator certificates suspended by CAAP

MANILA, PHILIPPINES- The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Monday ordered the suspension of the Air Operator Certificates (AOC) of low-cost carrier SEAIR International Inc. and leisure airline MAGNUM AIR (Skyjet) Inc. effective May 18 for various safety "observations" based on a report by the European Union Assessment Team relative to their recent inspection visit held last month.
AOC is the approval granted by CAAP to aircraft operators allow them to use their aircraft for commercial purposes.

In a letter address to Mr. Avelino Zapanta of SEAIR and Capt. Teodoro Fojas of Magnum Air, CAAP informed the two airline officers of the suspension order due to various safety shortcomings that apparently did not meet prescribed rules and standards under the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations (PCAR).

The letter was signed Friday, May 15, 2015 by CAAP Director-General William K. Hotchkiss lll, who said that the results of the assessment visit and investigation requires that the issue be given immediate corrective actions.

CAAP said that the suspension order took effect Monday, and will remain in effect until CAAP is assured that the necessary corrective actions and compliance with aviation safety standards have been undertaken by the respective airline operators.

Seair mounts flights to and from Manila to Basco in Batanes, several flights daily from Manila to Caticlan and Manila to Tablas Island in Romblon, while Magnum Air (Skyjet) operates to and from Manila to Basco, and Manila to Busuanga in Palawan.

Source: Interaksyon

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Australia Announced New International Immigration Partnership

Australia has signed a new partnership agreement with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), it has been announced.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said it will further strengthen Australia’s important relationship with the organisation.

‘We both commit to cooperating strategically on key shared migration priorities, establishing structured dialogue to enhance governance arrangements and to develop and implement programmes that make substantial positive difference to migrants,’ he explained.

Since its founding in 1951, Australia and IOM have shared a close collaborative working relationship. Australia was one of the 16 countries that formed the original membership of IOM, and Australia continues to value the important role this organisation plays,” Mr Dutton said.

IOM has shown commitment to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. This has defined it as the leading organisation for international migration,’ Dutton added.

Meanwhile, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Queensland Police Service have detained more people found illegally working in the construction industry in Brisbane.

Some 13 people from China and four from Malaysia were detained. Seven of the Chinese men were unlawful non-citizens and six were working in breach of their visa conditions. Three Malaysians were unlawful non-citizens and one was working in breach of his visa conditions.

‘Australians can be assured that we committed to being as tough on those who seek to rort our migration programmes as we are on those who arrive illegally by boat. We will devote the same resolve, resources and commitment that is necessary to get the job done,’ Dutton said.

Maximum penalties per illegal worker include infringements from $3,060 for individuals and $15,300 for corporates and up to $51,000 and/or five years imprisonment for individuals and $255,000 for corporates for aggravated criminal offences.

Dutton pointed out that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection works closely with employers who want to do the right things by assisting them to complying with their obligations. Employers can easily check visas and work rights through the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) tool, free of charge on the Department’s website.

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