In a U-turn, the UK government put on holds plans to suspend “golden visa” category in reference to its use by super-rich foreign nationals, including Indians, to acquire fast-track settlement rights in Britain.
The Tier 1 Investor Visa, used by many high net-worth Indians over the years, was to be suspended from midnight last Friday over fears of its misuse.
They provide a faster route for wealthy investors coming from outside the European Union and Switzerland to settle in Britain. The program was introduced in 2008 to attract wealthy foreign nationals willing to invest large amounts of capital in Britain.
To qualify, foreign nationals must put down a minimum of 2 million pounds (around $2.5 million) as an investment in Britain. Such an investment in United Kingdom bonds, share capital or companies allows investors to apply for permanent residency within five years.
For a £5 million investment, they can apply for permanent residency after three years.
An investment of £10 million can open the door to permanent residency after two years. After that, the nationals theoretically could apply for citizenship.
Billions of pounds have poured into London over the past decade, following an influx of global elites who have benefited from the program. The visa program has always had its critics, with anticorruption campaigners railing against Britain’s openness to ill-gotten riches from overseas and the foreigners who invest them.
A survey found that the scheme brought limited economic benefits because most of the investors had bought fixed-interest loan securities known as gilts, meaning that they were effectively loaning the government money instead of investing in the country.