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UK Tier 1 Investment Falls to 4-year Low in Q1: “UK Could Lose £350m” If University Classes Move Online

May 21, 2020

45 main applicants and 65 of their dependants received UK Tier 1 Investor visas in the UK during the first three months of 2020, Home Office figures released today show. This is the lowest number of approved applications recorded since Q2, 2016 (the quarter immediately preceding the Brexit referendum).

Hong Kong-based investors, for the first time in the program’s modern history, outnumbered Chinese ones, and that by a factor of two (15 applicants vs. 7). Five Indians, four Americans, and two Turks were also among the investors who obtained visas. Five applications were refused.

Presuming each investor made only the minimum required capital transfer of GBP 2 million, the program will have raised 90 million pounds during the quarter, down from 112 in the three months immediately preceding it.

The data contained in Q3, remarks Farzin Yazdi, Head of Investor Visa at Shard Capital, “do not fully reflect the current environment, as the lockdowns commenced first in China during January and slowly moved west.” He indicates he expects the true scale of the pandemic’s impact on the program to become apparent only when numbers for the current quarter are released, numbers he anticipated will be “very low, given no new visas are being issued as we pass the midway point of Q2.”

Yazdi points out the importance of distinguishing between application volume and demand, which, after all, could be present even in the absence of ways to act on it.

Farzin Yazdi

“There is pent up demand from investor migrants waiting to apply once lockdown measures ease. Of course, much of this is dependent on universities reopening and not moving classes online,” Yazdi underscores, referring to new this week of Cambridge University’s decision to move all classes online for the upcoming school year, a move many anticipate may be mirrored by other venerable institutions.

The university element, Yazdi believes, will have a decisive effect on the program’s direction, he explains, because among his Tier 1 investor client group (which, at several hundred applicants from diverse geographic regions, make for a representative sample) about half are motivated mainly or in part by their children’s educational prospects.

“The UK could lose over £350m of foreign direct investment if universities move classes online during the next academic year,” he comments, basing his estimate on last year’s application volume, which saw the UK raise close to GBP 800 million through the route.

Want to know more about the UK Tier 1 Investor Visa? To see recent articles, statistics, official links, and more, please visit its Program Page. To see which firms can assist with applications to the program, visit the Residence and Citizenship by Investment Company Directory.

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