24 May 2012

Russian investor surge in UK visa applications

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The number of wealthy investors, particularly Russians, applying for a UK visa has risen seven fold in just three years.

UK visa

Wealthy Russian investors are interested in prime property in London.

Just 43 people applied for a UK visa through the investor route in 2008, compared to 320 last year. Nearly 30% of these alone were from Russians, with China being the next biggest source of applications.

The investor visa was introduced in 2008 and enables wealthy international investors to remain in the UK for three years. The process is often seen as a fast track way to residency and citizenship for the wealthy and, despite economic worries at home and abroad, demand for the visa has increased dramatically.

"The nationality of the applicants for investor visas reflects those who are buying prime property in London," said Nick Thomas, partner at London law firm Pinset Masons who acquired the figures.

"Many of these Russians will put their children through school in the UK and will use the investor visa mechanism as a means of acquiring British citizenship for those children once they reach their majority."

International investors typically are interested in prestigious property in Central London and now represent the majority of buyers in certain areas with upscale letting agent Barton-Wyatt reporting that 55% of total sales in the first quarter of this year being to overseas buyers.

Russian interest in the investor scheme is merely representative of a growing trend of Russian immigration to the UK; four decades ago the best estimates predict less than 100 Russians residing in the south of England, compared to more than 32,000 by 2009.


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent UK immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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