UK visas to be available by auction?

25 Feb 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Wealthy individuals from overseas could be able to bid for UK visas through auction systems.

Government immigration advisers unveiled proposals today (Tuesday, 25 February) for an annual auction for UK visas. The suggestion could potentially allow people to bid for 100 premium residency visas through an auction system.

The concept is aimed at particularly well-off migrants, with bidding potentially starting from £2.5 million. These bids would be sealed but would be broken down into a compulsory £2 million investment and a £500,000 'good causes' fund donation, which would then be split between schools, hospitals and charities.

Sir David Metcalf, chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee worked on the proposal. He defended the idea against opinions claiming it could create an 'eBay culture' around immigration: “Some people say: 'Isn't it awful to sell off visas?' Well, it is better than giving them away, which is what we are doing now.

“At the moment the Brits get very little out of this and the investors get an awful lot.”

The plans would involve a major shake-up of the investor visa route if they were to be implemented. The £1 million investor option would be raised to the minimum of £2 million, while the £5 million and £10 million options would be revamped and turned into the new auction system that would hopefully deliver significantly more investment to the UK.

The UK visas would allow successful bidders the right to settle permanently in the UK within two years instead of five years. They would also be required to spend 90 days a year instead of 180 days to qualify for settlement.

It is not clear exactly how the Home Office will proceed with the idea, but at the moment ministers are thought to be thinking it over with a sceptical outlook.