By Moustafa Daly
The golden visa fever that has taken over Europe over the past decade was not mirrored in the UK. The UK’s Tier 1 Investor Visa, which was introduced in 2008, came to a halt in February 2022 due to concerns over some applicants potentially being of criminal or corrupt backgrounds.
A five-year review of the program that was presented by the UK Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, to the UK Parliament in January this year confirmed the indefinite closure of the Tier 1 Investor Visa and found that at least a small number of those who obtained Tier 1 Investor Visas, which was Europe’s priciest at £2 million ($2,463,860), were at high risk of being linked to criminal activities.
“I should stress that the work carried out only implies that a particular individual potentially poses a risk of having connections to criminality; it does not mean guilt has been proven,” said Braverman in the written statement.
Other residency-by-investment routes may soon be on the table in the UK
Braverman, however, also stated that the UK government is now considering other options for investment-based migration but remains firm in that passive investment routes will not be considered in the foreseeable future.
“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,” stated Braverman, further adding that emphasis will be placed on the applicants’ track record as investors in innovative businesses.
Such route, which reportedly may be available to investors as soon as spring 2023, will be offered within the framework of the Innovator Visa Programme.
This came shortly before a recent Bloomberg report found that the UK’s economy lost an estimated £100 billion in lost productivity over the past four years due to loss of funds and talent from the continent, among other factors – while EU countries such as Portugal, Malta and Greece managed to turn Golden Visa profits on account of their connectivity and freedom of movement within the world’s largest trading bloc.
What is the UK Innovator Visa Programme?
Launched in March 2019, this is the UK’s visa route for entrepreneurs and businessmen with track record of successful investments in innovative businesses. The business ideas must be innovative, scalable, and viable. It differs from the Startup Visa program in that the investor must have prior and verifiable experience; while applicants for the Startup Visa aren’t obliged to such a condition.
As it stands, the Innovator Visa requires a high level of engagement by the applicant in the day-to-day management of their UK investments. The current financial requirement to qualify for this visa is £50,000 ($61,600).
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