Q3 2021: Investor Visa applications back at pre-pandemic levels
21 November 2021
Q3 2021: The UK Issued 100 Investor Visas (previously Tier 1) to Main ApplicantsThis has been the first quarter when the UK removed most COVID restrictions, and the migration statistics show we are back to pre-pandemic levels. From speaking to many prospective migrants, the opinion to the UK’s handling has been to my surprise very positive. We are always critical of our own governments, and the grass is always greener on the other side. The pandemic has made many reassess and put things in perspective. We see families wishing to be closer together rather than on the other side of the world. Of course, the entire world has not fully reopened and thus some are still waiting until they are able to freely move back and forth without quarantine restrictions. This is why China & Hong Kong, whilst still the top nationality of origin, only account for 28% of the total, which is around half of normal levels. Americans continue the trend which we have been highlighting for over 18 months now with 10%, after Russians with 12% of applications issued.
As a result of Brexit, European Investor applications are materialising from France, Cyprus, and Switzerland.
These figures also do not include in-country switching and given our observations, we have seen Investor Visas being granted given the home country is still in lockdown with the assistance of highly skilled immigration lawyers.
Home Office Immigration Statistics – Data Release
Let’s follow the money! We highlighted in this previous quarterly update the increase in M&A activity, meaning overseas companies buying British businesses and this has continued in earnest. Foreign direct investment is part of the lifeblood of a successful and growing economy. In addition to takeovers, the daily news of investments into start-ups, early stage, and scale up capital continued to amaze most market participants. Moving up the scale into the public markets, AIM the UK’s small to mid-cap market is on track to have its biggest year since 2007. During 2021 up to the end of September, £6.7bn of fresh capital was raised for new and existing companies already surpassing 2020 levels*. My colleagues in capital markets have raised over £400m during this period.
In our poll (Q4) we asked what attracts HNW migrants to the UK and the above reiterates the UK’s second highest choice of business opportunities after education.
Is the UK still attractive?
One of the biggest changes is the British public’s perception of so called ‘golden visas’, a term originating from the Costa del Sol or Spanish gold coast real estate programme, which is changing in a post Brexit world. In the UK it is a visa category not a golden visa and I keep correcting those who refer to it as such. Many are beginning to realise in a post Brexit world, if they wish to retire, study, or even simply wish to spend some time in their second home in a popular European destination such as Spain or Portugal, you are limited to the time spent there before having to navigate your way through their immigration system. The UK has become a new market to those countries in the same way Europeans have for the UK’s Investor Visa. As understanding builds, perceptions change.
Public Perception
We recently did a count of the amount of UK Investor Visa qualifying investments in the public listed markets which totalled over 5,000 stocks & bonds to choose from to construct a suitable portfolio. After a decade focussing exclusively on Investor Visa clients, I am still amazed when someone develops a product or investment targeting the UK’s Investor Visa community and very interested in hearing about these.

We have recently witnessed several new promoters targeting Investor Visa applicants and not all are as sound as they claim to be.

My first question is normally why Investor Visa clients, do you know how many there are? To which one replied there must be tens of thousands a year. Then I ask surely why they don’t raise the money locally? London is the financial capital, if your investment is attractive, appetite is here! One answer was: ‘well they do it for their visa, so they won’t mind losing money and they are rich anyway.’

Be careful! A few basics: if an investment is too good to be true it probably is, are they offering above average returns, making statements such as capital guaranteed, offering introduction commissions, targeted at professional investors asking to sign away retail protections, and for my immigration lawyer readers, we have recently heard of ’Home Office approved investments’ which obviously do not exist. Please do your homework, check https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart, and report them.

Investment migrants are viewed as easy targets across the globe. Every country has horror stories and indeed it happens both ways. We must do our part to put a stop to this by educating, researching, and to report.

*Source London Stock Exchange
Investor Visa Qualifying Investment – Scam alert
Year on year quarterly data - 2014 - 2020
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