The number of wealthy foreigners investing £1 million in the UK economy for a UK visa has risen sharply in the past 3 years.
13 February 2012
Upsurge in international millionaires obtaining a UK visa
Recent figures shot the number of wealthy foreigners applying for and being granted a UK visa has increased seven-fold in just three years.
Anyone willing to invest at least £1 million in the UK economy is eligible to apply for a UK visa under the 'investor visas' programme but, with hundreds of foreign nationals now applying through the programme and many seeing it as a quick route to British citizenship, concerns are beginning to rise.
In 2008, 43 foreign millionaires were granted a UK visa through the investor programme; in 2011, 320 were granted.
Russian millionaires are the most common with 21% of the total applications coming from Russia, wealthy Chinese citizens were the next most prominent group while approximately 30% of applications were from Eastern Bloc countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Ukraine.
"The investor visas' rules are designed to reduce speculation in prime central London property, which is so favoured by wealthy Russian, and channels money into other areas. Many Russian investors [are advised to invest in] commercial property, boutique hotels being a current favourite," said Yuri Botiuk, head of the Russia and Ukraine desk at McGrigors law firm.
With UK immigration being a continuing issue, concern has been raised that increasing numbers of wealthy foreigners are seeing the investor visa route a method of essentially buying UK citizenship.
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent UK immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.