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Undercover route to the UK or nothing new?

The Times have changed since the the introduction of the Tier 1 Investor visa 2008. in the mists of the largest global recession many countries introduced Golden visa programs to stimulate economic growth and to inject much needed stabilisation and hopefully growth in to the most damaged economic sectors such as the housing markets. The UK along with countries such as Cyprus, Portugal and Spain all launched so called Golden Visas. Several other countries would join later on such as Malta, Ireland and Bulgaria, all hoping to get a slice of the action.

Westkin Golden Visa – Undercover route in to the UK?

Now it would be safe to assume that the governments that introduced these visa systems were reacting to an unprecedented global financial collapse which brought may countries to Bankruptcy. As such providing these Golden visa routes would have seemed like a wise short term fix, like putting a bandage on a wound. In the early days these programs lacked sophistication, allowing overly simple requirements such as the simple purchase of a property to a basic donation to an approved fund. As long as there were no obvious concerns migrants got their visas and later on their passports. As time went on these visa systems no doubt became used by persons of bad character and it would be difficult to know how many applicants would be turned down if they applied today rather than before any of the tightening of the requirements and enhanced checks for things like criminality and source of funds.

Westkin Golden Visa -Nothing new?

It can be argued that these Golden visa programs are nothing new, in fact the US has had its own golden visa system the EB5 visa active since the around 1990, 18 years before the UK golden visa was introduced. It is also a natural progression of any system that improvements are made over time, that flaws are identified and loop holes closed. As such it is to no great surprise to most persons that the Tier 1 Investor visa from 2008 is not very much alike the Tier 1 investor visa of today. Putting the requirements for not only the UK Golden visa but also all the similar programs around the EU side-by-side to their historic counterparts it is evident even to the layman that the newest visa rules are far more strict and require a far greater of financial transparency to ensure people do not evade the system and that persons who are not conducive to the public good are granted the visa. This is not just an issue that exists with Golden visa but it can be true of all visa categorises ever excised, the rule of thumb is that they tend to get more difficult the longer they stick around.

Westkin Golden Visa – Times have changed

It is clear that the times have changed since the Golden visa was introduced, the UK Government is no longer in desperate need of cash, evident by the Home Office decision to remove the ability to invest in government bonds since 29 March 2019, furthermore the UK housing market has also stabilised and started to grow which resulted in the ability to invest part of a migrants investment in to a property to be removed in 2014. The increased strength of the UK economy also meant that the investment amount was doubled to £2 million rather than £1 Million, making the UK Golden visa one of the highest investment requirements for any visa in the world. Sweeping changes to the source of funds was also introduced by the home office in 2019 to combat lax checks conducted by third parties such as banks and to aid the Home office in order to make a more informed decision on each applicants case. Are there further improvements that can be made? Of course, but the Home office seems reluctant to take on the burden of doing more detailed checks due to the amount of extra work that would be created , preferring to outsource these checks. Taking these checks in house may not be as simple as it sounds as it could drastically increase processing times for each application from a few weeks to years, as is the case with the much maligned US EB5 visa.

In conclusion, the visa has come a long way since its inception and changes have been for the better of the system in general, gradual improvements to the visa is likely the best way forward because if the visa is scrapped and replaced with something new we know from history that the first version tends to be the most likely undercover route in to a country rather than a visa that has been through several iterations.

Westkin Associates

info@westkin.com

5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2PZ
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

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