The United Kingdom’s popularity among high net worth Chinese individuals is on the rise and has undoubtably been the highest applicant for the Tier 1 Investor Visa scheme since 2016. The applications leapt by over a third last year, as the US delayed granting visas amid trade tensions between the two countries, according to a British private equity firm. The number of applications by individuals from China rose 32 per cent to 202 in the 12 months through September 2019, compared to 153 applications in the previous year, Growthdeck said.
171 of the applications were from mainland China, and the remaining 31 from were from Hong Kong, according to the UK Home Office.
The waiting time for Chinese applicants to become US residents through the EB-5 visa programme, which requires an investment of at least $500,000, can be as long as 16 years, according to the US State Department. The US grants only 10,000 of these visas a year, and limits each country to just 7 per cent of the total. Many Chinese investors took advantage of a fall in the value of the British pound, which has made UK assets cheaper, compared to other countries such as the US. Moreover, the wait for a Tier 1 Investor Visa can be as little as 3 months, allowing for a shorter transition period and quick move to the UK.
A stronger British government following the decisive election of Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson in December, has given investors greater confidence, said Growthdeck, and will ultimately lead to more applications from elsewhere in the world.
Hong Kong and mainland Chinese have also increased their interest in UK residential property. According to real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle, the firm recorded about a fourfold increase in inquiries from Hong Kong investors for UK homes in the second half of 2019.
The UK continues to offer a safe bet to high net worth individuals around the world, in regards to the rule of law, education, diversity and hope for the future, and with a promising turn for the government, it is set to be a promising year for those wanting to make the move.