A new visa route to the UK for wealthy investors could be introduced after a review found only a small number of applicants who used the controversial 'golden' Tier 1 (investor) route had links to crime and corruption.
Earlier this year the UK government revealed that a review into the 'golden visa' which was scrapped in February last year, found that of the 6,312 visa holders investigated 'a small minority of individuals were potentially at high risk of having obtained wealth through corruption or other illicit financial activity, and/or being engaged in serious and organised crime'.
In a written statement to parliament, the home secretary Suella Braverman indicated that a new visa for investors may be considered. She said the Home Office was reviewing the data and was considering 'a range of actions', adding: "The government is clear that any future visa route to facilitate investment-based migration must not offer entry solely on the basis of the applicant's personal wealth." Tier 1 (investor) visa holders were required to invest upwards of £2m in the British economy.
The visa was scrapped as part of a "renewed crackdown on illicit finance and fraud" following the outbreak of war in Ukraine and Mrs Braverman said that 10 oligarchs who had used the route had been sanctioned.
Any new visa route for wealthy investors will be welcomed as experts say there is pent up demand from foreign tycoons and entrepreneurs who do not qualify for current routes.
Yash Dubal, visa expert and director of immigration law firm A Y & J Solicitors said: "When the Tier 1 (investor) route was closed the door for many genuine, law-abiding people who wanted to invest in the UK. The alternatives have limitations, such as the Innovator Visa, which only applies to those with innovative ideas. The self-sponsorship route is a little-known and more flexible legal way for an investor to gain a UK visa but is not ideal for everyone.
"I know of many genuine, law-abiding wealthy individuals living overseas who have ambitions to invest and live in the UK who would welcome an alternative to the golden visa."
Other 'golden visa' review findings showed the route 'attracted a disproportionate number of applicants from the countries identified in the UK's National Risk Assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing'.
Any subsequent replacement will require a greater degree of scrutiny on applicants.
Mr Dubal continues: "It is understandable that the Home Office will apply more stringent measures to assess applicants who wish to come to the UK to invest but those who are genuine will not mind."
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.