|Home Office Immigration Statistics – Data Release Q2 2021: The UK Issued 66 Investor Visas (previously Tier 1) to Main Applicants|
|By Farzin Yazdi, Head of Investor Visa at Shard Capital “An impressive opening! During Q2 ’21 the UK began to remove COVID restrictions and today’s data release certainly reflects this with 66 Investor Visas issued to main applicants. Applicants from China & Hong Kong as usual dominated this visa route accounting for a third of all Investor Visas issued followed by Russia, and the United States. For over a year, we have highlighted the trend of increasing investment migration from developed nations such as the United States and Shard Capital’s specialist US Persons offering, and this trend is continuing to gather pace. Also of note, was the first European applicant from Hungary. Refusals in the Investor Visa category are typically low because applicants must go through several stringent checks prior to applying, and this quarter saw three keeping it under 5%. Do it yourself applications always end in disaster from what I have seen and heard. For us we do not open an Investor Visa account unless you have appointed an immigration lawyer or advisor to assist you through your journey. Looking ahead, Shard Capital’s dedicated Investor Visa team has seen a doubling in the number of enquiries over the past two months from Investor Visa applications. Given the lead times these enquiries will filter through to the Home Office statistics in the following two quarters. Personally, I see this due to several factors such as the UK reopening and continuing its global dominance, clients and their professional advisors realising that Investor Visa Investment Management is a specialist financial trade, and a number of financial institutions not offering Investor Visa accounts anymore. Afghanistan Unfortunately, political unrest drives economic migration. Historically, since 2011 the Investor Visa category has issued 26 Investor Visas to main applicants and a total of 121 visas including their dependents. We have seen several Afghani nationals enquire into this category for themselves and family members. While I do not see significant numbers, I expect a handful of Investor Visas to be issued in the following quarters. UK Value for Money? From an investment perspective, the UK’s benchmark indices performed well during Q2 ’21 increasing around 6%, however relative to global benchmarks it did underperform. We did however witness a significant increase in inbound M&A investment from overseas during first half of 2021, especially private equity deals. This indicates to us that the UK equity market offers good value to investors after a period of underperformance. 25 Years and a thank you! On a personal note, next month marks 25 years since I started to work in the square mile as a stockbroker. Yes, I am getting old! What a journey it has been as a migrant, moving to London from the US. I wanted to thank all my clients, colleagues current and ex, intermediaries, friends, and family. The recent peer review has been truly humbling, I feel blessed that what I do is not just a job but a way to help people get a better quality of life and hopefully will be able to do so for another 25ys!”|
Sharp fall in UK Tier 1 Investor Visa applicants
By Farzin Yazdi, Head of Investor Visa at Shard Capital
During the third quarter of 2019 the amount of main applicant UK Tier 1 (Investor) visas granted fell by over 60% to 49, from 124 in Q2.
Commenting on the data, Rafael Steinmetz Leffa notes:
“Considering the rule changes which happened in March 2019, it seems the information about the changes has not yet filtered down to the overseas professional community. When the last major rule change took place in Nov 2014, we saw a sharp fall in applicants until the new rules were fully absorbed by the professional community and prospective migrants. The last spike in the numbers could all be attributed to people that applied prior to the changes and were granted the visas throughout the Q2 2019 period, creating a bottleneck effect.”
“Other professionals we talk to have great expectations around high net worth individuals immigrating to the UK due to the unrest in Hong Kong. However, we hold the opinion that – because of this surge in demand for immigration services – liquidity simply is not present. Most of the individuals migrating to the UK historically had a significant portion of their assets in property investments and that is an illiquid asset. It would be counter-intuitive to sell these assets now that prices have dropped.”
“Another reason we may not see actual numbers go up until after Q2 2020 is that the high net worth migration to the UK is still driven by education. This visa category is mostly used by parents that wish to accompany their children to school here, and the busy period of school admissions has just passed.”
Active and trading UK companies moving offshore
Major UK utility companies are attempting to protect shareholders from the threat of a cut-price nationalisation by moving offshore. This election hedge may have significant implications for those who hold these shares or corporate bonds in their portfolio.
Reuters news agency reported that SSE, one of the leading UK electricity and gas companies, has incorporated a Swiss holding company. National Grid has opened subsidiaries in Luxembourg and Hong Kong. Press reports stated that Anglian Water and Yorkshire water have created overseas holding companies.
One of the key requirements for a qualifying investment as defined in Annex A of the Guidance notes is for the active & trading company to have a UK registered address.
We urge other professionals to review and monitor this situation as we are for our clients.
Source: Shard Capital
Office of National Statistics Data Release : UK grants 92 Investor Visas
As expected, today’s release of the latest ONS figures for Q4 2018 applications for the Tier 1 Investor Visa remains high. This comes as no surprise as on the 5th of December, the Home Office announced that it would ‘halt’ applications which led to many intended investors to apply in those 24 hours in order to have their application fall within the current rules.
The Home Office then later announced that it would not halt the program, however at a later stage it would reform the program. Therefore, we expect the high number of applicants to continue as more and more people make a decision to move to the UK whilst they know what the rules are.
“While in discussion with clients they explain that the uncertainty of future rules is something that worries them, especially with regards to which investments are permitted”, said Rafael Steinmetz Leffa, Head of China Desk at Shard Capital Investor Visa. “This concern is mostly referring to direct investments in the UK government, in the form of Government Bonds which is the preferred financial instrument for the vast majority of this type of investor.”
Whilst we note that the overall number of applications is slightly lower than the third quarter of 2018, it is worth highlighting that 50% of applications in the fourth quarter were from China and its SARs (Special Administrative Regions). We also saw a rise in applications from countries in the Middle East.
2018 also saw the largest number of applicants since the Home Office increased the investment threshold from £1mil to £2mil in November 2014. This shows that investors remain bullish about the UK’s status as a hub for education, finance and investments overall.
If you would like more information on Shard Capital Investor Visa or the UK Tier 1 (Investor) Visa, please contact us.
ONS (Office of National Statistics) update – Time to review existing portfolios (And the Americans are coming!)
During Q3 2018, a total of 96 Tier 1 Investor Visas were issued. What stood out this quarter was the rise in US applicants and some Indian nationals who normally prefer the Entrepreneur category. The trend in strong demand from Chinese applicants, and the decline in Russian applicants continued during the quarter. Detailed breakdown below.
Commenting on the figures, Head of Investor Visa at Shard Capital Farzin Yazdi said:
“The strong trend in Investor Visa applicants continued during the third quarter this year, despite the uncertainty with Brexit. In many of my meetings with new applicants, Brexit rarely comes up in conversation. It is the value of the pound and the many benefits the UK has to offer which dominates.
Immigration lawyers and advisors – it is time to review your existing clients’ portfolios with regards to the statement of changes (HC1154), especially to ensure your clients’ investment has been maintained. Please review before the end of the next reporting period, which for most will be the end of this calendar year.
It has recently been highlighted that investment management for Tier 1 (Investor) Visa applicants is a specialist area, with a number of banks and wealth managers withdrawing from this space. Having the right systems and controls in place that are adaptable to the latest immigration rules is key in remaining compliant. Identifying if investments have been maintained is not always straightforward. But we are here to help!”
UK grants 92 Tier 1 (Investor) Visas
A total of 92 Tier 1 (Investor) visas were granted during the second quarter of this year, with dependents (143) not falling despite the January rule change. The attractiveness of the UK remains among HNW migrants despite the unknown outcome of Brexit negotiations.
As per previous releases, Chinese applicants accounted for the lion share of applicants at c35% followed by Russian applicants, which surprisingly saw an increase despite all of the news and introduction of new sanctions. Year on year for the first half of ‘18 there is an increase of 17% of UK Investor Visa applicants.
As we highlighted with the Q1 announcement, Turkish applicants have disappeared given the devaluation of the Lira. Investor Visas have always been a leading indicator of economic and political uncertainty. No other significant trends appeared in terms of country of origin this quarter.
Review your existing client portfolios! Further to the statement of changes and updated guidance circular, I strongly encourage immigration advisors and lawyers to review the accrued interest and declared dividends element of their clients portfolios. While this can be financially technical, we are more than happy to review this and are here to assist you on an anonymous and non-committal basis.
Also, make sure there is no loan secured against the portfolio and that the current provider can issue such a letter. It never ceases to amaze, the errors made which could easily be avoided. Investing for Investor Visa purposes requires expertise and experience which cannot be obtained by dabbling in this space.
If you would like a copy of the handout distributed at the ILPA economics working group, do not hesitate to contact us.