UK visas snapped up by wealthy Russian investors

14 Feb 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A substantial proportion of UK visas are going to wealthy Russian investors, recent figures have revealed.

The government has implemented a number of changes to the UK immigration system in a bid to tempt people with higher skills and greater wealth to move to the country.

If the latest data from law firm McGrigors is anything to go by, the adaptations are proving successful in these aims. The firm's research revealed that the number of 'investor visas' issued to wealthy foreigners has risen six-fold since April 2008.

Russian nationals accounted for the largest number of these (21 per cent), followed by Chinese investors with 15 per cent. A further 30 per cent of investor visas went to high net worth individuals from Former Soviet Union states, such as Armenia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

Yuri Botiuk, partner at McGrigors and head of the company's Russia and Ukraine desk, noted that the majority of applicants are what are known as “stability migrants”. They are looking to obtain an EU passport and see the UK as “the premier safe haven”.

He added: “A few years ago the current protests and social unrest in Russia would have been unthinkable. What we have seen over the last year or so will have pushed many more wealthy Russians to seek a ‘bolt hole’ of stability abroad.”

The comments suggest that it isn't just the UK government's push to favour wealthier UK visa applications that is tempting Russians to Britain; their home nation's political problems are also working to drive them to a more stable home.