Home Office considers tweaking UK investor visa system

20 Nov 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The Home Office is reported to be considering making changes to UK visa regulations governing investors visas.

At the moment, immigrants from outside of the European Union can fast-track their applications for residency by making hefty investments in Britain. However, these payments can be designed as a loan to their own business, rather than as an investment in UK gilts or British companies, the Financial Times warned.

As more and more people are making use of the investor visas, the government is keen to make the system more beneficial to the UK. As part of this, the Home Office is expected to launch a consultation in early 2013 looking into how the country can make better use of funds. It is also set to reconsider the threshold investment of £1 million.

One of the favoured suggestions is to channel investments into a dedicated fund to support youth unemployment; an idea that was submitted to prime minister David Cameron at an immigration summit in 2011. Another idea is to create a £20 million Big Society bond that would be open to a limited number of 'ultimate investors', each of whom would be granted permanent residence within one year of living in the UK in return for providing social causes with a financial boost.

Russians and Egyptians are thought to account for significant number of investor visa applications at the moment as Russians look for a more secure political climate than that of Moscow and Egyptians flee the protests that have sprung up in their country. However, investors from around the world looking to set up a base in the UK have also shown an interest in this visa option.

Mark Harper, immigration minister, commented on the provision of the route: “Investors and entrepreneurs play a major role in our economic growth which is why we have given them extra incentives to start up businesses and invest in the UK.”