According to the United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), 2017 had a record-number of Tier 1 Investor Visa Program applicants between January and March of that year. This figure is the highest number of Tier 1 Investor Visa applicants recorded since 2014, stated the ONS report.
The Tier 1 Investor Visa Program was designed by the UK government for high net worth and ultra-high net worth investors and entrepreneurs who currently reside outside the European economic area and Switzerland. By making a substantial investment in the economy, qualified applicants are able to settle in the UK, with the opportunity to apply for permanent residency if all requirements are met. At present the minimum investment amount is GBP 2 million in government bonds, or a share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.
The Tier 1 Investor Visa Program is akin to several Residency by Investment schemes (also known as “Golden Visas”) found throughout Europe. Although minimum investment amounts remain higher than many UK competitor programs in Greece, Spain, or Cyprus, Britain’s levels of Direct Foreign Investment (FDI) peaked in 2016—the highest numbers since 2005—and totaled GBP 197 billion, rising a whopping BGP 164 billion in Direct Foreign Investment from the previous year, according to statistics released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Even with economic figures on the rise in the UK, you may be wondering, “what makes post-Brexit Britain so appealing to global investors?” The answer to that is simple: the desire to obtain UK permanent residency remains high, and for several reasons. Obtaining permanent residency in the UK allows investors and eligible family members to live, work, and study anywhere in the country.
Before the Brexit Referendum of 2016—a move that began the UK’s formal withdrawal from the European Union (EU)—the UK Tier 1 Investor Visa Program remained one of the most sought-after paths for accessing Europe’s extensive market. As the UK prepares to formally leave the EU, the government will likely have to reconsider requirements for the Tier 1 Investor Visa Program, i.e. decreasing investment amounts, to maintain its competitive edge and appeal among wealthy foreign investors.
Even with the current status quo, individuals seeking residency in the UK remains relatively steady while still providing investors a path to financial gain, including benefits of a high-quality lifestyle and social, political, and economic stability. How long this will remain the standard for the UK following its departure from the EU, only time will tell.
While the UK is certainly enjoying an increase in Tier 1 Investor Visa applications for 2017, a post-Brexit economy may soon create a critical need for the program’s reassessment, largely in regards to lower investment options for foreign nationals seeking permanent residency in the UK.
What remains a fact is that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is essential for a country’s economic growth in areas of job creation, increased productivity, improvement of living standards, and local competition. If the UK intends to meet Theresa May’s vision of a “Global Britain,” attracting foreign investment must remain a high priority, not only to thrive without the supporting economies of the UK’s neighbors but maintain a competitive edge among other popular Residency by Investment schemes across Europe.
For more information about the UK’s Tier 1 Investor Visa Program, please click here.
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