The Tier 1 investor visa route has given opportunities for ‘corrupt elites to access the UK’, the UK government said.
Britain’s government said Thursday that it is scrapping so-called “golden visas” offering residency to wealthy foreign investors amid security concerns and renewed calls for the United Kingdom to review its links with Russia.
The Home Office said the Tier 1 investor visa route has given opportunities for “corrupt elites to access the UK”. It said that in some cases, the visas have “given rise to security concerns, including people acquiring their wealth illegitimately and being associated with wider corruption”.
The visa route, which was introduced in 2008, offered residency to people investing 2 million pounds ($ 2.7m) or more in the UK and allows their families to join them. It will be shut down to all new applicants from all nationalities with immediate effect, the government said.
Many of those who acquired such visas were Russians, and critics have long questioned whether the policy facilitated money laundering in the UK. Concerns about Moscow’s reach in the UK have intensified as the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine looms.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the move was part of the government crackdown on illicit finance.
“I want to ensure the British people have confidence in the system, including stopping corrupt elites who threaten our national security and push dirty money around our cities,” Patel said in a statement.
Asked Thursday about cracking down on Russian money in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to bring in “tough sanctions” against Russia.
“Clearly, it’s time to bring in some tough sanctions against the Russian regime, against big Russian companies – organizations of strategic importance. And also making sure that we stop the raising of funds by Russian companies on London financial markets, ”Johnson said.