The number of people travelling to the UK on investor visas has fallen by more than 80 per cent.
Figures for the year to March show that just 35 Tier 1 visas were given to Chinese investors compared to 488 in the previous 12 months. There was also a fall in the number of Russians granted the visas, with figures slipping from 196 to 34.
There are a number of reasons for the falling numbers, with global economic uncertainty, higher costs and stricter regulations all playing a part.
In November 2014, the amount that applicants had to invest in the UK to secure a Tier 1 visa increased from £1 million to £2 million. The figures fell sharply immediately afterwards with just 57 applications in the three months after the increase, compared to 471 in the quarter before. There was a further 26 per cent decrease to just 42 in the first three months of this year.
The tighter rules also include stricter checks on applicants and state that they must have a UK bank account.
Rachel Davies from lobbying group, Transparency International, told the Financial Times: “We have significant concerns that before 2015 the front door was left open to wealthy corrupt individuals looking to settle in the UK.”
The paper reported that applications from countries such as China and India, where it is difficult to transfer wealth to another country, were also hit by the changes.
The stricter rules introduced in the UK have meant many potential Tier 1 applicants have instead chosen to invest in other countries where the checks are not as tough and the amount required for investment is smaller. Cyprus, Malta and Portugal all have similar investment visa programmes which have less red tape than the British one.