UK Closes ‘Golden Visa’ Scheme

UK Closes ‘Golden Visa’ Scheme

The UK closes its “golden visa” scheme that allows wealthy foreign nationals to settle in the country in exchange for bringing investment.

The British government said on 17 February 2022 that it is scrapping so-called “golden visas” offering residency to wealthy foreign investors amid security concerns and renewed calls for the United Kingdom to review its links with Russia.

The so-called “golden visa” had allowed entry and residence in Britain if an applicant invested the equivalent of $2.7 million in active UK registered companies.

The Home Office said the Tier 1 investor visa route has given opportunities for “corrupt elites to access the UK”. It said that in some cases, the visas have “given rise to security concerns, including people acquiring their wealth illegitimately and being associated with wider corruption”.

UK Tier 1 Investor Visa

Launched in 2008, the “Tier 1 Investor Visa” programme allowed people with at least £2m in investment funds and a UK bank account to apply for residency rights, along with their family. 

The speed with which applicants were allowed to get indefinite leave to remain was hastened by how much money they planned to invest in the UK: £2m took five years, while £10m shortened the wait to just two.

With immediate effect, new applications will no longer be accepted.

Many of those who acquired such visas were Russians, and critics have long questioned whether the policy facilitated money laundering in the UK. Concerns about Moscow’s reach in the UK have intensified as the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine looms.

“I want to ensure the British people have confidence in the system, including stopping corrupt elites who threaten our national security and push dirty money around our cities.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel

Alternate UK Visa Route – Innovator Visa

The interior ministry said reforms were being made to the so-called “innovator” visa as a replacement route for potential applicants.

This is part of a new post-Brexit, points-based immigration system, which the ministry said will provide “an ambitious investment route which works more effectively in support of the UK economy.”

Approvals will now be conditional on applicants executing an investment strategy that can show genuine job creation and other tangible economic impacts.

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