End of UK's Golden Visa Scheme to Affect Chinese, American, Indian Investors

The Tier 1 Investor visa, referred to as a "golden visa" for the fast-track route to settlement rights in the United Kingdom it offered to the super-rich willing to invest millions in the United Kingdom, will be suspended from Friday midnight until new rules are put in place next year.

A shudder will have gone through certain sectors of Britain today with the announcement that the Tier 1 investor visa route is to be suspended from midnight while new tighter rules are prepared for future applicants.

Its suspension will end after an audit process is introduced, ministers say.

A £2 million investment could secure a visa and indefinite leave to remain after five years.

Tier 1 visas were introduced in 2008 to attract non-EU citizens to invest millions of pounds into the United Kingdom, with more than 1,000 granted in the year ending September 2018.

It led to Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich withdrawing his Tier 1 Investor visa application and has since acquired Israeli citizenship instead.

Golden visa applicants could apply three months before arriving in the United Kingdom and would get a decision within three weeks, having paid a £1,623 fee.

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The decision to halt the visa comes following a review into the visa launched in May into applications since 2015, when the rules were tightened in the wake of concerns over foreign "dirty money", enabling officials to seek information of source of funds.

Those seeking such visas will have to prove they have control of the investment needed. However, I have been clear that we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system.

Tier 1 visas, known as "golden visas", have been criticised for providing an easy route into the United Kingdom for oligarchs and the super-rich looking to launder stolen wealth. The audits will have to be carried out by United Kingdom registered auditing firms.

However, three years later, the Migration Advisory Committee said the scheme brought little economic benefit for British citizens because most applicants were buying gilts to qualify - so were effectively loaning the government money, rather than investing in the UK.

There will also be a new provision for pooled investments, which are supported by Government, to back projects with a clear economic benefit to the United Kingdom, such as supporting small and medium enterprises.

The Home Office had confirmed that its probe into the visa route would not be limited to just Russian billionaires and would form part of a wider crackdown on money laundering.

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