The effects of the Government’s increase in the level of investment required for Tier 1 investor visas which came into effect this April - from £1,000,000 to £2,000,000 - are yet to play out. The early signs are that the move has prompted a sharp falloff in applications. The numbers for the first quarter of 2015 are 78% down on the corresponding figures for 2014 - down from 213 to just 58. International investors are looking elsewhere it seems.
But it is notable that the headline figure for the UK’s Tier 1 investor visa is radically out of step with equivalent schemes elsewhere. We have already highlighted elsewhere the efficacy of the Cyprus scheme, and elsewhere in Europe investment demands are also less attractive. For example Spain’s Golden Visa scheme demands a €500,000 property investment; in Germany the investment level is €1,000,000 along with the requirement to deliver a minimum of ten new jobs.
But these European figures, markedly lower than the UK requirement as they are, are largely in line with the criteria demanded by the USA. The famous green card is available for an investment in Government approved projects that deliver ten jobs or more for a mere $500,000 (£329,000).
Given current levels of political uncertainty across Europe as well as the large number of visas which the US is able to grant (11,000 in the year to September 2014) this begs the question of why someone should opt for the UK option.
For the constituency addressed by this scheme the populist issues of benefits and free education are off the agenda. The appeal of the UK as an economic centre and as a cultural draw have historically been a powerful draw. It will be interesting to see whether that appeal alone is sufficient to attract Tier 1 investor applications in the face of what are - economically at least - less demanding requirements elsewhere.