Visas for China's super-rich fall 91%

Posted on 14 September 2015. Source: The Sunday Times

Visas for China's super-rich fall 91%

The number of super-rich Chinese bringing their money into the UK has dropped dramatically amid heavy falls in share prices in Beijing, official figures reveal.

The plunge in equities has dented financial markets around the globe and over the past three months only six Chinese nationals were granted entry into the UK on a visa scheme for the ultrawealthy - down from 102 during the same period in 2014.

The number of "investor visas" issued to Chinese so far in 2015 is down 91% yearon-year, according to the Home Office. The visas are granted to applicants who can stake a minimum of £2m in Britain. Previously the required investment was £1m.

A total of 17 investor visas, designed for "ultra-high-networth individuals", were granted to Chinese nationals in the first six months of this year, down from 187 in the same period in 2014.

The number of wealthy Russians taking out the visas has also fallen. Only 23 have been granted in the first six months of this year. In the same period in 2014, 118 were granted. Economic problems in Russia and the British government's tough stance on "non-doms" have been cited as the most likely reasons for the decrease in investors.

The visas have been a popular way for the superrich to fast-track their residency in Britain. After five years, they can apply for a permanent residency permit and a year after that for citizenship.

If they invest £5m or more, they can apply to settle permanently in the UK after just three years. This drops to two years if they invest £10m.

Kamal Rahman, an immigration specialist at Mishcon de Reya, the law firm, said: "The figures may be the first sign that the limitation of non-dom tax advantages is discouraging inward investment, as well as the impact of the increase in the minimum investment to £2m."

The effects have already been felt in the property market, with notably less activity at the top end.

The number of Chinese with big money to spend is dropping.

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