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Westkin Associates – The History of the Golden Visa Part 2 – March 2019 and the future

Click here for part 1 of our Golden Visa series.

The Golden Visa changes 29 March 2019

Following the 6 November 2014 changes the investor visa pottered along for a few more years. Although total number of new applicants had significantly decreased, the program did still have its suitors. During this period the visa came under scrutiny due to several scandals highlighted by the media, this included reports that the visa could be used to launder money and that several persons of bad character or conduct had been granted the visa without any checks having been completed by the Home office to verify these persons. The Home office as a response introduced general tweaks to the Golden visa, requiring applicants to prove they did not have a criminal record and that they had been cleared to move their funds to the UK by a UK Bank.

However the actual rule change itself came on the 29 March 2019, following a strange four day suspension of the visa in December 2018, which most practitioners had though was for a new rule change that did not come until three months later. The key change for this rule change was to address two major issues. Firstly the Home Office gave themselves more power to conduct extra checks on documents and a persons control of the investment funds, something that should have been included in the rules from the inception of the visa in 2008. The second major change was to scrap the ability to invest in Government bonds. Analysis over the life of the visa had shown that the overwhelming majority of applicants chose to invest in government bonds, this was due to it being seen as the safest investment for them, however the amount of funds raised by the visa was in reality insignificant to the national debt, meaning that the visa was of no real economic benefit to the UK. Furthermore the hostile environment policy had in the previous months become a poison chalice to the Government and it could no longer be justified that persons of high-net worth should be given preferential treatment.

The Golden visa – The future

What the future holds for the visa is unclear however the direction of travel that can be seen from the current government is a tightening of the rules, as the UK economy grows the appeal of the UK naturally increases, as such the UK would have greater confidence to create more hoops for applicants to jump through in order to avoid the mistakes of the past. However at the time of writing the UK is still in the EU and will likely have the said benefits of the UK for a few more years to come, however it is not hard to imagine that in a few years time for the UK to scrap the visa all together and start fresh with a brand new investment visa category which would need to be a very attractive proposition as the UK would no longer have the gravitas of the EU as whole to offer, as such expect more Golden Visa 2008 rather than Golden visa 2019.

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