Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, who have faced difficulties obtaining a new UK visa, will not be allowed to work in Britain if he travels here on his new Israeli passport, Downing Street has said.
It emerged on Monday that the formerly Russian-based billionaire, a regular presence in Britain since he bought Chelsea in 2003, had been granted Israeli citizenship and was moving to Tel Aviv.
Abramovich, who had reportedly faced delays in renewing his UK visa, will be allowed to visit the UK visa-free for up to six months at a time with his Israeli passport, but cannot work in the country, Theresa May’s spokesman said.
While stressing he could not comment on individual cases, the spokesman outlined the general situation, saying: “Those with Israeli passports are non-visa nationals, which means they do not need a visa to come to the UK as a visitor for a maximum period of six months.”
He added: “Israelis are required to obtain a visa if they want to live, work or study in the UK.”
The spokesman said it was up to immigration authorities to monitor how these conditions were adhered to, and the Home Office would have more details on what could constitute work in such instances. The Home Office was contacted for details.
Israel’s interior ministry confirmed the offer of citizenship on Monday. “Roman Abramovich arrived at the Israeli embassy in Moscow like any other person,” an Israeli government spokesperson said. “He filed a request to receive an immigration permit, his documents were checked according to the law of return, and he was indeed found eligible.”
Israel grants citizenship to any Jewish person wishing to move there, and a passport can be issued immediately. Abramovich, who is Jewish and has been a regular visitor to Israel, has donated millions to Israeli research and development projects and invested in local firms.
Abramovich has not commented on recent developments. However, it is believed he could have been asked to explain the source of his wealth before he could be granted a new UK visa.
His previous tier-1 visa, which allows anyone who invests more than £2m in the British economy to stay for 40 months, was granted before tighter regulations were introduced in April 2015.
Last week Downing Street said that while it could not comment on individual cases, it was the “logical conclusion” that some wealthy individuals who had applied under the investment visa route before the changes would no longer be eligible.
The government launched a further crackdown on wealthy investors coming to the UK after the Salisbury poisoning, increasing tensions between Britain and Russia. (The Guardian)