80% increase in Tier 1 (Investor) visas granted in Q3 of 2016
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics today reveal an 80% increase in the number of Tier 1 (Investor) visa applications approved during the period July to September 2016. Meanwhile, the number of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas granted has remained broadly the same as in previous quarters.
Increase in Tier 1 (Investor) visas
Between July and September 2016, a total of 72 Tier 1 (Investor) entry clearance applications were approved by the Home Office. This compared with 40 grants of Tier 1 (Investor) visas in the second quarter of 2016 and 42 Tier 1 (Investor) visa approvals in the first quarter of 2016.
The number of Tier 1 (Investor) visas granted by the Home Office during the third quarter of 2016 represents the highest figure since the first quarter of 2015, which was itself the first quarter after the increase in the investment funds threshold from £1 million to £2 million.
Over half of all individuals entering the UK as Tier 1 (Investor) migrants in the last quarter originated from China (24) and Russia (14). The next most popular countries of origin were Brazil (3), Hong Kong (3), St Kitts and Nevis (3) and Turkey (3).
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas remain steady
The third quarter of 2016 saw a total of 204 Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas granted worldwide. This compared with 198 grants of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas in the second quarter of 2016 and 214 Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) approvals in the first quarter of 2016.
The top 5 countries of origin for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants entering the UK in the last quarter were India (31), China (20), US, (16), Hong Kong (13) and Australia (13).
Whilst is too early to reach any firm conclusions, these figures suggest that following the drop in interest associated with the increase in the investment funds requirement at the end of 2014, the UK may be re-establishing its position as a destination of choice for high net worth investors On any assessment, an 80% increase in the number of Tier 1 (Investor) visas granted in the last quarter must be regarded as statistically significant.
In the absence of empirical data, we can only speculate as to the reasons for the increase in interest. However, the drop in the value of the pound over the last 6 months is likely to have played its part. On 23 June 2016, a Chinese citizen would have needed access to 19,600,000 CNY in order to qualify for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa (GBP/CNY 9.80). On 1 September 2016, this same Chinese national would have needed to be able to access 17,680,000 CNY in order to migrate to the UK under the Tier 1 (Investor) visa scheme (GBP/CNY 8.84).
The EU referendum may also have played its part. The prospect of financially self-sufficient non-EU nationals no longer being able to automatically acquire a right of residence in the UK via the acquisition of citizenship of another EU country will almost certainly have led many wealthy foreign nationals to re-assess the merits of schemes such as the Portuguese Golden Visa scheme. Such schemes no longer offer the back door to UK residency that they once did.
Could the prospect of a Trump presidency also have played its part? Certainly the anti-immigration rhetoric emanating from the US during the presidential campaign is unlikely to have endeared the President-elect to many of those who might previously have opted for the US E2 Investor Visa scheme in preference to the UK’s offering. With the election result now all but confirmed, we look with interest to the data for Q4.
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