The UK Immigration Minister, Ms Caroline Nokes, announced the suspension of the UK Tier 1 Investor Visa Programme.
The popular programme required applicants to invest at least £2 million into the country in return for the right of residence in the UK with the possibility for indefinite leave to remain after five years. While the popularity of the programme had decreased over the last number of years, the announcement still came as a surprise to many in the industry.
The UK Government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) had previously questioned the economic benefit of the programme, due to the fact most applicants were purchasing Government bonds rather than investing in a UK business. An audit of the programme will soon be undertaken and there is a strong likelihood for vast changes to its current format. The MAC’s desire is for the applicant’s funds to have a clear economic benefit to the UK through investments in small to medium size businesses. One possibility is for a new version to be similar to the USA’s Residence-by-Investment programme known as the EB-5 Investor Visa, which was designed to attract foreign capital while spurring economic development and thus creating jobs for US citizens. It has become one of the world’s most popular Residence-by-Investment programmes and provided low-cost capital to developers and projects across a number of industries.
Latitude recognises and supports the need to tighten the programme’s due diligence and checks on source of wealth. In addition, a revised programme that includes tangible and measurable economic benefits to the country will ultimately have the desired positive outcome the programme was always meant to provide.
For Private Clients who were considering the UK programme, there are a number of alternatives. Certainly, the Ireland Immigrant Investor Programme (IIIP) is one such option. Ireland has the fastest-growing economy in Europe and is home to many of the world’s top tech companies such as Google, Intel, Facebook and Twitter. In addition, its education system receives some of the world’s highest marks and is a main factor for families choosing the IIIP. One of the more popular options to qualify for residence in Ireland is the €1 million investment in an Approved Investment Fund committed for a minimum of three years.
Those looking for a flexible residence option will want to view the Portugal Golden Visa Programme. While it offers many different qualifying options the most popular are tied to the purchase of real estate from €350,000 or €500,000. The programme is flexible due to the residence requirement being only 7 days per year in order to maintain the residence status. After five years it is possible to apply for citizenship although a basic understanding of the Portuguese language is required.
The country of Malta offers two different types of programmes. The first is a residence programme aptly named the Malta Residency and Visa Programme which starts from only €135,000 + a lease or purchase of a property and gives the applicant and family the right to live and work in Malta. The other option is the Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) which has become the world’s number one Citizenship-by-Investment Programme due to the high standards set by the government. Citizens of Malta have the right to live and work in any EU country which is one of the primary benefits of the MIIP. The total cost for the MIIP starts from just under one million euros.
Lastly, the Cyprus Citizenship-by-Investment Programme is another viable alternative and involves the purchase of real estate priced from €2 million. This efficient CIP grants citizenship to the primary applicant in as little as six months. Citizens of Cyprus also enjoy the right of establishment in all EU countries.
While the temporary suspension of the UK Tier 1 is disappointing there are certainly many alternative options available for Private Clients. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation and review of your residence options.