UK to abolish golden visas for foreign investors

The UK must scrap the golden visa scheme that allowed wealthy foreigners to quickly obtain British citizenship. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

The government is expected to scrap so-called ‘golden visas’ for wealthy foreign investors amid concerns over ties between Russia and the UK.

Those eligible for the Tier 1 Investor Visa, launched in 2008, must have at least £2 million in investment funds and have a UK bank account.

It has come under scrutiny due to repeated concerns that the system could be exploited because there are not enough background checks on applicants.

The rules for qualifying for investor visas were tightened in 2015 and controls on how applicants got their money were introduced. Since 2019, applicants must also have proof of a UK bank account.

the BBC Now reports that an unnamed government source has confirmed the program will be scrapped in an announcement to be made next week.

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Home Secretary Priti Patel decided to close the road due to ‘long-standing concerns’ about abuse of the system by criminal groups and the super-rich in several countries including Russia, China and Kazakhstan.

The government issued 798 investor visas in the 12 months to September 2021, of which 82 were granted to Russians and 210 to Chinese nationals.

The decision comes amid concerns over Moscow’s influence in the UK as tensions continue over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border – but denies planning an invasion.

The visas were introduced by Labor in 2008 in response to the financial crisis, granting UK residency in exchange for seven-figure investments. The initiative fueled a property boom for wealthy Russians in Britain.

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The Tier 1 visa offers residency to those who invest £2 million or more in the UK and allows their families to join them.

These visa holders can then apply for permanent residence in the UK, at a rate depending on the size of their investment.

An investment of £2m allows for application within five years, shortened to three years with £5m or two years if £10m is invested.

Investment can be made in gilts, government bonds or UK companies.

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