The Tier 1 investor visa was considered a "money laundering tool" because it was one of the preferred ways to settle in the UK for foreign billionaires. The vast majority of them were Chinese and Russian.
The applicant, who had the means, £2 million invested in the British economy, was issued a residence permit, which gave him a right of permanent residency after five years. Thanks to an investment of £10 million, the waiting period was reduced to two years. And it was the easiest way to get British citizenship.
Created in 2008, this visa regime has long been a "black box". "The banks felt that the Home Office had to check the origin of the money, and the Home Office transferred the responsibility to the banks", said Rachel Davis, a member of Transparency International, in March . "As a result, there were very few controls."
At its peak in 2015, approximately one thousand visas were issued each year. But when some controls were finally introduced in 2018, most applications for this visa have mysteriously evaporated, decreasing by three quarters. "We will not tolerate people who do not follow the rules and abuse the system", said British Immigration Minister Carolyn Knox to justify the abolition of Tier 1 investor visas in the UK.
In addition to the suspicion of money laundering, the economic utility of this system was in any case very limited. Investors were mostly putting their money in Treasury bonds. Obviously, they got a visa by lending money to the British government, from which they made a profit. The main objective of attracting real entrepreneurs has not been achieved.
The UK government has announced plans to reform the system with a new Investor Tier 1 visa and put it in place in 2019. Bond investments will be banned and specialists will be in charge of verifying the origin of the funds.