There has been a sharp drop in the number of investors seeking to enter the UK via the Tier 1 visa route.
Just 44 people applied for a Tier 1 visa in the second quarter of this year, a fall of 82 per cent compared to the same period in 2014 when 251 applications were received. It follows the trend that first became apparent at the start of the year, when only 58 applications were made between January and March.
The new Home Office figures show the lowest number of Tier 1 applications since 2010. The minimum required investment to enter the UK this way doubled to £2 million in November last year and the lower numbers in 2015 may be as a result of the changes.
However, the UK may also be losing out to other European Union countries offering easier routes to obtaining an EU passport. The Portuguese government requires a much smaller investment, while those applying to Cyprus can be approved for a passport within three months rather than the five years it takes under the UK Tier 1 visa scheme.
Mark Davies, managing director of tax consultants Mark Davies & Associates, told the International Adviser: “I believe the Government has misjudged the competition to the UK's investor visa programme. A successful investor programme has to be synchronised with tax policy.”
Mr Davies said that investors were being put off due to the UK’s change of attitudes and policies towards ‘non-doms’. The summer budget included plans to reduce the tax benefits for them to 15 years.
He added: “It’s a shame that just as other jurisdictions are copying the UK’s remittance basis for foreigners, at the same time the UK is curtailing its tax system which had previously encouraged foreign investment.”