News Archive - October 2011

UK visa problems see foreign investors leave the UK

24 Oct 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Complications regarding UK visas applications have contributed to a loss of foreign investment in the country, it has been suggested.

Britain's decision to opt-out of the Schengen visa scheme appears to have resulted in business problems for the country once again.

Last year, Chinese electronics giant Huwaei moved its headquarters out of Britain and relocated in Dusseldorf, Germany. A small base remains in Basingstoke, but the major research centre, which was a joint venture with Vodafone, has been established in Dusseldorf.

One of the driving reasons behind the move appears to be the additional hassle overseas business people face in obtaining UK work permits and visas once they are present in Europe. While the Schengen Agreement allows people with a visa for one member country to move freely between others, and so enjoy relatively unlimited access to Europe, the UK demands an entirely separate visa application from its overseas visitors.

Yingying Li, a spokesperson for Huwaei, told the Telegraph that relocating to Germany (a Schengen member) “allows our staff to travel freely between its 25 member countries – they have to apply for an additional UK visa if they need to visit London”.

The Chinese firm's decision came shortly before Britain's unemployment soared to a 17-year high. But the UK government's attitude towards foreign investment could limit the opportunities available for international firms to help the country rebuild its economy.

In fact, recent moves to tighten up UK work permit conditions and allowances could discourage overseas businesses who may well otherwise have been drawn by the country's internationally renowned business services and financial centres.