As many as 254 millionaires from India used Golden Visa to settle down in the UK through significant investment into the country ever since the route opened in 2008, said a new report released by a UK-based anti-corruption charity this week.
As per Spotlight on Corruption, India happens to be the seventh nationality of the super-rich who have availed the Tier 1 (Investor) Visa. It added up to as many as 254 between 2008 and 2020. Ahead of India, the list was topped by China at 4,106, followed by Russia (2,526), Hong Kong (692), the United States (685), Pakistan (283) and Kazakhstan (278).
The list of top 10 countries issued the visa is completed by Saudi Arabia at 223, Turkey at 221 and Egypt at 206. The visa in question allows applicants residency rights in the UK. About half the total is under review at present.
“Golden visas allow wealthy individuals to buy the right to live in the UK if they invest in UK-registered companies. Individuals that invest 2 million pounds get an immediate right to live in the UK for three years, followed by a two-year extension,” said the report entitled ‘Red Carpet for Dirty Money’.
“Those that invest 10 million pounds can be fast-tracked to get indefinite leave to remain within two years, or within three years if they invest 5 million pounds. From indefinite leave to remain visa holders are on a steady path, after one year, to much prized UK citizenship,” the report added.
However, there was a time when super-rich individuals could easily use the route to acquire residency rights in the UK. It was based on a minimum of a 2-million-pound investment. Before the UK Home Office tightened the norms, this time was called the “blind faith” period.
“The UK’s golden visa regime continues to pose a significant corruption, money laundering and national security risk to the UK,” said Susan Hawley, Executive Director of Spotlight on Corruption.
“It is alarming and deeply unfair that the government is becoming draconian in other parts of its immigration policy but has yet to close major loopholes that allow dirty money to come to the UK. The government must commission an independent review of whether the regime provides any real benefit to the UK,” she said.
According to the UK Home Office, it has reformed the route in the last few years in an attempt to crack down on black money.
“We reformed the Tier 1 visa route in 2015 and in 2019 to crack down on dirty money and we have not ruled out making further changes, if necessary,” the Home Office said in a statement.
“These changes include requiring banks to do extra due diligence checks prior to opening accounts and requiring applicants to provide evidence of the source of their funds. As part of our work to prevent this route from corruption, we are reviewing all Tier 1 investor visas granted before these reforms were made and will report on our findings in due course,” the statement added.