Just under two months ago we reported on the UK government’s announcement that it will retrospectively review the Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur visas issued to the Russian nationals from 2008 to 2015; with Theresa May also adding fuel to fire of the brightly burning scandal concerning poisoning of the former Russian spy in Salisbury, by saying that there was “no place for corrupt Russians in London”.
It was also suggested at the time that the Home Office will now closely scrutinise all Tier 1 visa extensions and Indefinite Leave to Remain applications by Russian nationals.
The UK government now seems to be making good on its promise as well as making a major political statement by going after the most high-profile Russian in the UK, Roman Arkadievich Abramovich, the infamous owner of the English Premier League club, Chelsea FC.
Although it is not known whether this is in fact a direct result of the change in the government’s attitude towards Russian nationals, it is hard to suggest any other explanation at this point in time.
The story seems to have originated from an unnamed source close to Mr Abramovich and although Downing street does “not discuss individual cases”. Various high-profile news outlets have picked up and reported on this story based on information that case from people who know Mr Abramovich personally.
There are different theories as to why Mr Abramovich’s Tier 1 visa application is being delayed. However, all of them seem to point to the worsening Russia-UK relations, which is unsurprising considering that Mr Abramovich have made London his second home as far back as 2003, when he first bought the Chelsea Football Club, and would therefore obviously have a substantial previous successful immigration history and established presence in the UK. This normally makes renewal applications much easier.
In light of this, it is being suggested that the delay in the application process is being caused by the UK government’s making requests for Mr Abramovich to account and produce evidence at to the source of his wealth. Although this is possible, it would seem quite unlikely in our view, particularly in light of the amount of information about Mr Abramovich’s wealth that came out of the infamous High Court case brought against him by Boris Berezovsky from 2007 to 2012.
In reality, it appears, as was feared, that the Home Office is implementing the government’s policy as a blanket approach to ALL Russian nationals regardless of their previous immigration history and current ties to the UK and the additional checks and scrutiny of the applications is simply causing unnecessary delays even for the most high profile applicants.
In the circumstances, we would as always recommend that individuals that fall into the abovementioned categories seek professional advice and assistance in good time before submitting any applications to the Home Office.
Are you a Russian national looking for immigration services? Get in touch with one of our Russian Speaking Immigration lawyers in London if you need any immigration help.