The process offered fast-track residency for foreign investors pumping at least £2 million into Britain
The UK government is reportedly planning to scrap the golden visa scheme that offered fast-track residency to foreign investors amid concerns about potential abuse and money laundering.
A government source has confirmed that officials will make a formal announcement on the visa scheme next week, addressing fears that it has been open to abuse, the BBC reported on Thursday.
Officially known as ‘Tier 1 investor visas,’ the scheme has provided foreign investors who pump at least £2 million ($2.76 million) into the UK, and their families, with permanent residency status, having been established to encourage wealthy individuals to finance projects in Britain.
Investors are required to invest the £2 million within five years or can shorten the process to three years by spending £5 million ($6.79 million) or to two if they give £10 million ($13.59 million). The process has been under review by the UK government for some time to address fears it can be exploited to facilitate corruption.
The UK has previously been condemned domestically over the existence of the scheme and for the lax monitoring of the funds received. Speaking in the House of Lords earlier this year, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Wallace stated that the UK is “behaving like Cyprus and Malta by selling residency,” suggesting it undermines Britain’s status as a “great global country.”
Incredibly wealthy citizens from a number of countries, including China, Kazakhstan and Russia, have secured residency since its launch in 2008, by investing money into the UK through the scheme.
In a report on Russia published in 2020 by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, it was claimed that a “more robust approach to the approval process for these visas” is required to disrupt the “threat posed by illicit” funds.