Government scraps ‘golden visas’ for wealthy foreign investors

Previously, those eligible for the visa had to have at least £2 million in investment funds and a UK bank account.

17 February 2022

So-called “golden visas” for wealthy foreign investors have been scrapped by the Government amid “security concerns”.

The tier 1 investor visa route will be shut to all new applicants from all nationalities with “immediate effect”, the Home Office said, adding that some cases had “given rise to security concerns, including people acquiring their wealth illegitimately and being associated with wider corruption”.

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

It has been under review due to repeated concerns that the system could be exploited because not enough background checks are made on applicants.

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

Labour former minister, Chris Bryant, has previously called for a full review of the scheme as he accused the Government of “giving out golden visas to dodgy Russian oligarchs” and said the system is used as a “backdoor loophole” to funnel dirty money into the UK.

In 2018, a report published by the Foreign Affairs Committee, which at that time included the now Home Secretary Priti Patel as a member, accused ministers of risking national security by “turning a blind eye” to the Russian “dirty money” flowing through the City of London.

Concerns over the practice of issuing golden visas were raised during this inquiry which found that despite the outcry over the Salisbury Novichok nerve agent attack, Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and his allies were continuing to use London as a base for their “corrupt assets”.

Ms Patel said: “I have zero tolerance for abuse of our immigration system. Under my New Plan for Immigration, I want to ensure the British people have confidence in the system, including stopping corrupt elites who threaten our national security and push dirty money around our cities.

“Closing this route is just the start of our renewed crackdown on fraud and illicit finance. We will be publishing a fraud action plan, while the forthcoming Economic Crime Bill will crack down on people abusing our financial institutions and better protect the taxpayer.”

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