45 main applicants and 71 of their family members received UK Tier 1 Investor visas during the first quarter of this year, according to records released by the Home Office/Office for National Statistics today. Those numbers represent a slight reduction on the preceding quarter and a 0% change compared to the same quarter last year.
The figures imply that the UK raised in excess of GBP 90 million during the period, which was marred by some of the most restrictive limitations on movement in and out of the country observed in peacetime. Application and approval volumes are expected to rise markedly for the Q2 period, as restrictions ease.
Close to one-third of applicants (13) came from China, while Americans accounted for seven approvals. Four Russian applications were approved, as were three each from Hong Kong and South Africa.
Since inception in 2008, the UK has approved 4,699 Tier 1 investor visas, 2,945 of which in the 2008-2014 period, during which the minimum investment requirement was GBP 1 million, and 1,754 from 2015 onward, during which the minimum was GBP 2 million. At a bare minimum, then, the UK has raised close to GBP 6.5 billion in direct investments. The actual total is likely closer to GBP 10 billion because some applicants invest far higher amounts to enable a fast-tracking of their route to Indefinite Leave to Remain.
The overall rejection rate so far in the year is 10%, about one percentage point above last year's average. That average, however, masks wide discrepancies between different applicant nationalities:
While the all-time global average rejection rate now stands at 7.3%, more than one in four Iranians, 22% of Pakistanis, 16% of Indians, and 13% of Egyptians have historically been turned away. At the other end of the spectrum, out the 77 Brazilians who have applied since 2008, not a single one has been declined. Similarly, Americans and Australians almost never received rejections.
Tier 1 morning in America
“Today’s statistics are identical on a year-on-year basis in the period prior to the UK’s first lockdown, with 45 Investor Visas issued," says Shard Capital Investor Visa's Farzin Yazdi. "While these numbers may seem low given the UK is making progress in its roadmap of cautiously removing restrictions with high vaccination rates, we have to be mindful of the global situation and many travel restrictions that are still in place."
Overall, Yazdi adds, he is still bullish on application levels returning to pre-pandemic levels in the near future.
“Around a year ago we highlighted the new, increasing trend of UK Investor Visa migrants from the United States. This trend is continuing to build momentum, accounting for 16% of all Investor Visas."
The Home Secretary recently signaled wide-ranging immigration reform, which Yazdi indicates he hopes will extend to the Tier 1 program as well.
“In addition to the Home Secretary's speech setting out the next stage of reform to the UK’s immigration system, it has been an eventful quarter in the Investor Visa space which included a court decision criticizing the drafting of the rules. I, for one, believe it is time to reform and simplify the rules, and we are putting suggestions forward to migration policy."
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine - online or offline - for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.