Official figures released by the UK Home Office show that 72 Indian millionaires have migrated to the UK on Tier 1 investor visas since 2008. The news has been welcomed by the UK’s business community, which highlights the contribution migrants make to the country’s economy.
Tier 2 visa also popular for Indians
While 72 Indian millionaires have used the Tier 1 visa, many more Indians enter the UK on the UK’s tier 2 visa (General) visa, which allows skilled workers to work for a UK employer with a tier 2 sponsorship licence, and eventually gain legal permanent residence.
India is among the top nations in the world whose millionaires have migrated to the UK using the so-called ‘Golden Visa.’ The latest figures reveal that the 72 millionaires who have arrived in Britain since 2008 have been accompanied by a total of 84 dependents.
While Indian millionaires top the list for the most number of Tier 1 investor visas granted, rich entrepreneurs from China, Russia and the United States have also poured billions of pounds into the UK, contributing significantly to the country’s economy. The millionaire investors disclosed by the Home Office data are only identified by their nationality.
Tier 1 investment threshold changes
Up until November 2014, the Tier 1 investor visa category had a minimum investment threshold of £1 million. This has since been doubled to £2 million following a Home Office committee review in February 2015, which found that the original threshold did not significantly benefit the UK economy.
The Tier 1 investor visa allows a foreign national to invest a sum of £2 million, £5 million or £10 million in the UK. Investment can lead to permanent residency for visa holders and their dependents for two, three or five years, depending on the size of an investment made. Eventually, the Tier 1 investor visa route can lead to UK citizenship.
Concerns over Tier 1 investor visa
Despite Britain benefitting from significant overseas investment as a result of the Tier 1 investor visa, campaign group Transparency International has raised concerns about the programme. They argue that the visa scheme could be used for money laundering and has called for more rigorous checks on applicants and their investment funds.
In a report published by the TI, titled Paradise Lost, the campaign group recommended that Britain takes steps to avoid becoming a ‘prime destination for corrupt individuals looking to invest or launder the proceeds of their illicit wealth, enjoy a luxury lifestyle and cleanse their reputations.’
The TI stated: “The Tier 1 investor visa – often referred to as the ‘Golden Visa’ - is a magnet for corrupt individuals to obtain residency in the UK. As a result, the money they’re investing is perhaps unknowingly endorsed and legitimised by the British government.”
Having hit a peak in 2014, Home Office data shows that the number of people granted the Tier 1 investor visa has been declining steadily. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has occurred following the increase of the minimum investment threshold to £2 million, but has also been attributed to the government’s clampdown on the UK visa system.
Golden visa still attractive to foreign investors
Nevertheless, the so-called Golden Visa remains an attractive proposition for foreign investors compared to similar visa schemes offered by Australia, Portugal and the USA. Britain is regarded as a top destination and a ‘safe haven’ for global millionaires due to its historical connections, and relativity stable political system and liquid economy.
Equally, foreign investors recognise that there is very little interference from the UK government in matters of private, individual assets.
The data released by the Home Office, documents the arrival of the 72 Indian millionaires as follows:
Total no of millionaires: 72
Total no of dependents: 84
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