We are aware of the news that the Isle of Man Tier 1 (Investor) immigration route has been closed to new applications last night.
The Isle of Man Government has effectively decided to say “no” to the tens of millions of pounds in legitimate foreign direct investment from which the Island stood to benefit in coming months. The job creation and tax revenue they would have brought to the Island in these difficult times will also simply not happen.
We do not accept the line that the Isle of Man Investor route represented significant money laundering risk. The Isle of Man has some of the most rigorous anti-money laundering controls anywhere in the world, and any funds invested would be thoroughly vetted to ensure they came from a legitimate source.
In terms of any suggestion that national security issues are relevant in view of the current situation in Ukraine, to our knowledge the Isle of Man Investor route has never proved popular with Russian citizens. In fact, even though Kinley Legal has Russian-speaking lawyers, we have never been consulted by any Russian citizen in relation to this route.
The UK Home Secretary’s comments last week, that she was concerned Investor visas may be granted to people who “may not comply with the requirements of the Immigration Rules or who may pose national security risks” do not stand up to scrutiny. What possible motivation would immigration officers have to grant visas to such people? The immigration authorities in both the Isle of Man and UK already have extensive powers to decline visa applicants who fail to prove their money is clean, and decline or rescind the visas of those who threaten national security. Shutting the entire Investor route to all applicants, with nothing to replace it, is disproportionate and economically damaging.
We remain deeply concerned about the abrupt way this change has been made in the Isle of Man specifically, and for the implications for democracy and good governance. It appears that political pressure from the UK could have been brought to bear on the Isle of Man Government in a way that is incompatible with the constitutional arrangements in place. Key among these is the UK’s longstanding recognition that the Isle of Man is entitled to pursue its own interests in the international arena, which may be different from those of the UK.