Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, life as we know it has changed including the UK’s Tier 1 investor programme as well as similar schemes around the world. However, as the global economy starts to reopen, and lockdowns start to ease, the restrictions on travel and movement will reinvigorate the desires and ability of high net worth (HNW) individuals to relocate. The UK’s Tier 1 Investor Visa is a flexible and attractive option for those of HNW from overseas. it is likely to become a popular option for EU and Swiss HNWs in the future.
Any decline in the applications to the Tier 1 Investor visa are expected to be offset from the growth from non-EU HNWs who would previously have considered obtaining a similar investor visa from Cyprus or Malta in order to benefit from EU (and by definition UK) citizenship and the freedom of movement. Those HNWs who now wish to move to the UK need to consider the UK Tier 1 Investor Visa.
According to Wealth Briefing, the number of Tier 1 investor visas issued in the UK has fallen by 44 per cent to 219 in the last year, down from 394 the year before. Unquestionably the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions have affected this fall in figures.
For the majority of countries (except Hong Kong and India), there has been a general decline in the number of investor visas issued in 2019/20 in comparison with the previous year, these include: China with a 70% decline, Russia a 25% and the USA with a 47% decline. However, those from India saw a 13% increase and applications from Hong Kong nationals increased by 68%.
The surge in applications for investor visas from Hong Kong nationals is likely to be due to political instability. This is a popular reason to apply for the scheme and allows families a safe haven and excellent opportunities for the future.
The investor visa has always been an attractive, flexible option. It affords international businesspeople the freedom to visit the UK. As other visa routes close, it has remained, notwithstanding with a few tweaks here and there. No doubt there has been an impact on visa schemes around the world due to the pandemic, but as the end of free movement between the UK and EU, there is likely to be a long-term impact on the most frequent users of the visa.
Ultimately, however, it will be the attractiveness of the UK for investment and education over the next few years that will determine whether the use of the visa increases or decreases. The UK is renowned for world class education and tremendous business opportunities, and as the UK navigates itself out of the EU once and for all, HNWs can enjoy the freedom and flexibility of relocating to the UK.