The UK is preparing to abolish the so-called “golden visa” regime within weeks, as Russia’s actions towards Ukraine prompt new calls to tackle “dirty money” flooding into the UK. Brother.
Previously, the Tier 1 “investor visa” route has attracted wealthy Russian and other international investors who have resettled in the UK under the scheme.
The visas have been under review since then UK’s relationship with Russia deteriorated after the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018.
The rules to qualify for an investor visa – under which people must prove they have at least £2m to invest in the UK – were tightened in 2015 and the examination of how people applicants get their money already referred. As of 2019, applicants must also have proof of a UK bank account.
However, allies of Home Secretary Priti Patel have said she wants to abolish the entire regime due to concerns the system could be exploited by illicit money-laundering funds. Government officials confirmed plans were drawn up to eliminate visas within weeks.
Congressional Intelligence and Security Committee warning in 2020 that “exploitation of the UK investor visa scheme” is an attraction for many Russians. It said the UK had provided the “ideal mechanism” for illegal financial recycling, adding it had become a “laundry shop” for wealth abroad.
The government has issued 798 investment visas for the 12 months to September 2021, 82 of which were issued to Russians. During the same period, 210 visas were issued to Chinese nationals.
Chris Bryant, a Labor MP who is on the Commons foreign affairs select committee, said: “These Tier 1 visas are a gilded invitation to launder money in the UK.
“The government must be clear about how they have been abused and the UK must end its addiction to money scams. I can’t understand why the home secretary didn’t get rid of them long ago. She was even on the foreign affairs committee when we asked her.”
In 2018, former Home Secretary Amber Rudd asked officials to review the basis on which more than 700 wealthy Russians were allowed to settle in the UK under the scheme. After years of delay, the government has pledged to publish its findings by April.
The Home Office said: “We reformed the Tier 1 visa route in 2015 and 2019 to crack down on dirty money and we do not rule out making further changes.
“As part of our work to stop this road from corruption, we are reviewing all Tier 1 investor visas that were issued before these reforms were implemented and will report back. Report our findings in due time.”