superfast UK citizenship for £ 2.5 million
LONDON –Wealthy foreigners may soon be able to gain fast track citizenship and the right to settle in Britain.
Britain’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has now recommended to the government that foreign millionaires should be allowed to submit sealed bids to win residence visas for Britain. They would have to pay a minimum of £2.5 million each to enter an auction for one of 100 elite investor visas.
At present, about 500 migrants a year are given residence visas in return for investing a minimum of £1million.
But the MAC says there is little or no gain to UK residents from the investor route and hence has recommended raising the amount to £2 million.
The MAC said, “A further reform might involve auctioning some slots. At present it is not possible to determine the optimal price – investment threshold – for a visa under the Tier 1 (Investor) route. One approach to determining the price would be to auction a certain number of slots, say 100, with a reserve price a little above the investment threshold (recommended to be £2 million), perhaps £2.5 million. The government would receive the excess over the £2 million. This surplus could go to good causes.”
It added, “In order to encourage investors to enter the auction, the MAC recommends two incentives be provided. First, the investors who gain an auction slot should receive accelerated settlement after two years. Second, the residence requirements for such investors should be relaxed.”
Britain’s home secretary Theresa May has asked the committee to look at whether auctioning visas or making it available in exchange of a hefty donation can be a plausible option. UK says though a screening process will ensure criminals aren’t let in.
Chairman of the Committee Sir David Metcalf said, “We have focused our attention on how UK residents may gain from this migration route. We express some healthy skepticism regarding the value to UK residents of high net worth individuals coming to the UK. The committee has therefore recommended some straightforward reforms that we believe make it much more likely that UK residents will benefit while continuing to show that Britain is open for business.”
The UK has operated a migration route for investors and their families since 1994. Under current requirements an applicant has to invest either £1 million, £5 million or £10 million in the UK. Of this 75% must be invested in either UK government gilts, or loan or share capital in UK registered trading companies. The value of the investment must remain at the same level for the investor to obtain extended leave or settlement.
In the year to 2013 Q3, there were 560 main applicant visas issued under the Tier 1 (Investor) route.
The UK Government has operated a migration route for investors since 1 October 1994. Up to 2004, investor applicants were required to hold at least £1 million in the UK and to invest £750,000 in UK Government bonds, stocks or corporate bonds. In addition, the applicant had to make the UK their main home.