Downing Street defends visa regime amid reports of Abramovich delay

Downing Street defends visa regime amid reports of Abramovich delay

Visa applications from Russia are dealt with “rigorously and properly”, Downing Street said after reports billionaire Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s document had not been renewed.

The UK Government is examining investor visas issued to Russians in the wake of the Salisbury nerve agent attack and the deterioration in relations with Moscow.

Downing Street would not be drawn on the circumstances surrounding Mr Abramovich, stressing: “We don’t discuss individual cases.”

The Financial Times reported on Sunday that Mr Abramovich’s investor visa had expired.

John Mann, the 51-year-old’s Moscow-based spokesman, told Press Association Sport it was a private matter and there would be no comment.

There is nothing to say Mr Abramovich’s visa situation, where his renewal application is taking longer than usual, is linked to the strain in relations between Moscow and the West.

The British Home Office is examining its approach to the Tier 1 investor route – which requires applicants to be prepared to invest £2 million in the UK – following the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March.

The nerve agent attack in Salisbury has affected relations with Russia (David Mirzoeff/PA)
The nerve agent attack in Salisbury has affected relations with Russia (David Mirzoeff/PA)

The UK Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Work is under way in terms of reviewing Tier 1 investor visas.

“In 2014-15 we took action to tighten up the Tier 1 investor route, including the introduction of new powers to refuse applications where there are reasonable grounds to believe funds have been obtained unlawfully.

“As a result of these reforms applications reduced by 84%.

“We are currently taking another look at how the route operates and are undertaking further checks on investors who came to the UK through this route before the reforms were introduced.”

Then British home secretary Amber Rudd was questioned about the investor visa route in relation to Russian applicants when she appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee in March.

Asked if the around 700 existing visas for Russian investors would be reviewed, she told MPs: “I have asked my officials to look at what reforms we might continue with and also to take a look at previous ones over the past few years.”

She added: “I have asked to look at the cohort of previous ones to see if there is any action that needs to be taken.”

- Press Association

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