Some things don’t change – why the UK persists as a destination for residents.

Despite restrictions on international travel, the number of Chinese high-net-worth individuals applying to live in the UK has risen. Those from mainland China and Hong Kong applied to settle in the UK in the third quarter of last year than from any other nation, latest statistics show.

Russia and American applicants were also high in the statistics, which showed a marked rise in Tier 1 investor visa applications from the first half of the year. In the first quarter, 45 applied, in the second quarter only 23 applied but in Q3, there were 96 applications. 23 of these applicants were from mainland China and 20 were from Hong Kong, around 45% of the total.

While the number of applicants is still low, it suggests a revival in interest in the UK as a destination for the world’s wealthy. The Tier 1 Investor visa is popular with wealthy migrants due to its flexibility.

The revival in applicants over the last year during a pandemic shows that there is still confidence in the UK as a safe haven to settle and invest. The UK education system has always been a big draw for applicants and families looking to relocate from other parts of the world and this remains the case despite the pandemic. The quality of life, geography, access to London’s financial centre, political and legal stability and a well-developed private health-care system are also prominent reasons as to why people apply for the scheme.

When final Tier 1 Investor visa numbers for 2020 are released there is still expected to be a drop on numbers from previous years. In 2018 there were 376 visas issued, in 2019 there were 360. In the first three quarters of 2020 there were a total of 164. This is not altogether surprising in light of concerns around the pandemic and Brexit. But while issues around the divorce from the EU settle, we will see confidence return. Ultimately, being resident in the UK is about two things – stability through the rule of law and the afore-mentioned globally respected education system. These things have not changed as a result of either the pandemic or Brexit.

This explains why there is still an appetite for UK investor visas and while the figures will most likely rise slowly for the rest of 2021 because most nations will still have restrictions in place, once international recommences with the roll out of vaccines, we can expect to see a big surge in applications as those who have put their plans on hold are finally free to travel again.