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Trends in high-net-worth migration

Posted on 25 April 2024

For many years, the UK has been an attractive destination for the internationally mobile, drawn by its stability, robust legal system, exceptional educational opportunities and cosmopolitan lifestyle.

While the UK remains one of the world's top destinations, the available immigration pathways have shifted in recent years. Various changes in Government policy have resulted in a more restrictive landscape and have enhanced the need for careful planning around all aspects of an individual's move.  

Following the closure of the Tier 1 (Investor) route in February 2022, there has been a move towards routes which require active engagement with a UK business and, in many cases, endorsement (or pre-approval) by a third-party organisation. This has had an impact on high-net-worth migration to the UK, as well as developments in other areas of Government policy.

Most recently, on 6 March 2024, the UK Chancellor announced substantial changes to the tax regime for UK-resident, non-UK domiciled individuals ("non-doms"). The proposed changes will impact those already in the UK and on a path to indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or British citizenship, and those currently considering a move.

However, while the proposals are significant, careful tax planning alongside immigration advice may still enable individuals to meet their long-term goals.

Current visa options for the UK

There are various visa options available for the UK, including work, study, business-establishment and family categories.

One of the most popular visa routes is the Skilled Worker visa. The Skilled Worker route allows companies that are already established and operating in the UK to sponsor a non-British or non-Irish national to work for them in the UK. The company must have already obtained a Sponsor Licence from the Home Office, allowing it to support Skilled Workers.

The UK has seen a big rise in visas issued under this category since Brexit. Removing the cap on work permits, abandoning the need to advertise jobs in the UK before applying for a visa, and recent increased flexibility around supplementary work have all made it easier for employers looking to hire overseas staff.

In addition to the Skilled Worker route, there are also options for highly talented or entrepreneurial individuals. For example, the Global Talent route is a highly flexible option that allows leading individuals from certain fields to apply for endorsement from a relevant organisation and obtain a visa for the UK. This visa then allows them to work in any role in the UK and for any organisation, provided it operates in the field of work for which they have been endorsed.  

The Innovator Founder visa is aimed at individuals seeking to establish an innovative, viable and scalable business in the UK. This route was relaunched in 2023 with various improvements. For example, there is no longer a minimum funds requirement, and Innovator Founders are no longer restricted to working solely for the business they have set up in the UK, provided the secondary employment meets certain conditions. Both the Global Talent and Innovator Founder routes offer the possibility of an accelerated route to ILR (in three years, rather than five).

There are also options for those in a relationship with a British citizen or person with ILR in the UK, or those with UK ancestry, amongst others.  

Global options for HNW migration

In addition to the UK, there are other countries that clients consider when looking to relocate.

Several countries in Europe offer streamlined pathways to residency, where the visa holder is not required to work for a particular company/industry to maintain their visa, as well as tax advantages.

One popular destination is Italy. For a minimum investment of EUR 250,000 applicants can acquire residency in Italy in a number of months. Visa holders are not required to spend a minimum amount of time in Italy to renew their visa, can travel as a visitor within the Schengen zone, and can benefit from favourable tax incentives.

Portugal offers a similar path to residency for a minimum investment of EUR 500,000 (or a donation of EUR 250,000). Applicants are required to spend a minimal amount of time in Portugal to renew the residence permit (usually at least 14 days in the two-year validity period of the visa).

Monaco also offers a bespoke residence permit for individuals who can demonstrate that they have sufficient financial means to reside in Monaco, amongst other requirements. This is generally shown by evidencing at least EUR 500,000 in a Monegasque bank.

Malta offers a popular route to acquire citizenship of a European country in a minimum of 14 months. Applicants are required to donate EUR 750,000 to a Maltese 'National Social Development Fund', buy a property in Malta for EUR 700,000 or lease a property for EUR 16,000 per annum, and donate EUR 10,000 to a registered NGO, amongst other requirements. Applicants need to spend some time in Malta between being issued with a residence permit and submitting their citizenship application. Maltese citizenship gives the applicant and qualifying family members the full rights and entitlements of citizenship of the European Union and wider EEA.

For options outside of Europe, popular US options include the E-2 and EB-5 investor visa options. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows individuals from treaty countries (countries with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to reside in the US when investing a substantial amount of capital in a US business. Meanwhile, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program provides a method for eligible investors to become permanent US residents —known as “green card” holders, by investing at least $1,050,000 million (or $800,000 if the investment is in a targeted employment area) to finance a business in the US that will create jobs for US workers.

Hong Kong has recently launched a new Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES) aimed at eligible investors who can make an investment of at least HK$30 million in approved Hong Kong assets. Successful applicants are granted a Hong Kong residence permit, initially valid for two years, and renewable for periods of three years thereafter. After seven years of residence in Hong Kong applicants may be able to apply for permanent residence or unconditional stay in Hong Kong.

In addition, the Caribbean citizenship programmes, such as those in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia offer a fast-track process to citizenship. Under these programs, applicants can acquire citizenship of a Caribbean country for as little as USD$100,000 (rising to USD$200,000 by 30 June 2024), and do not need to spend time in the country in question. Passport holders are then able to travel to over 145 countries worldwide visa-free, including countries such as the Schengen Area, the UK, Hong Kong, and Singapore amongst others.

Many high-net-worth individuals are attracted to such programmes for the enhanced mobility they offer, as well as being an attractive Plan B, both for present and future generations.


When clients consider relocating, there are numerous issues that must be taken into account to assess alternative residencies/citizenships.

By providing our clients with the information they need, they are empowered to decide which pathway is the optimum strategy. Our team of immigration and tax experts based in the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong can support clients with their move by providing advice on all areas of immigration, personal tax, and trust and estate planning, alongside our network of international lawyers.

Should you require further information, please contact us on the details below: 

Fran.Rance@Mishcon.com or David.Deane@Mishcon.com

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