Changes in UK Investor Visas

The changes in system of granting special UK visas to high net worth individuals are expected in February 2014. At the present time any individual can be granted an Investor Visa (or a Tier 1 Visa) by investing £1m in the UK or showing the evidence of possession of a personal net worth of £2m plus a £1m loan from any British bank.

During last 3 years UK issued 765 Investor Visas (in 2010-2011 – the number of issued Investor Visas was 235, in 2012-2013 the number increased to 530). Majority of Investor visas have been issued to Chinese citizens, followed by Russians and Americans.

At the present time many people criticize this system as there is no evidence that UK economy benefits from the investors on long-term basis. On 9 January 2014 news outlets announced that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) have proposed changes to investor visas.

Professor Sir David Metcalf, Chairman of the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), said that many of those receiving Tier 1 Visas buy gilts which they then sell on after three or five years; they obtain British citizenship, but the UK economy has not gained. Most Tier 1 (investor) migrants invest in UK government bonds; however, even a £10 million investment pales in comparison to the £300 million which the Treasury sells every day to fund the deficit. He added, “If there are 500 investors in the last figures, only some 50 or 100 of those really carry out proper entrepreneurial activity; that, I think, is where the benefit for Britain is.”

Therefore MAC is proposing two new options for Tier 1 (investor) visas, which are that Investors could simply buy UK citizenship or UK visas can be issued in exchange for donations to hospitals and universities.

Most probably the way in which Tier 1 Visas are issued will change due to MAC’s recommendations.