Thursday 22 December 2016 12:45 pm

Investor $2m visa applications rise post-Brexit vote as investors take advantage of weaker sterling and avoid immigration limits

Investor visa applications rose sharply after the Brexit vote, as wealthy foreigners scrambled to take advantage of special immigration rules and a weaker pound.

Applications rose by 61 per cent year on year in the three months after the referendum in anticipation of stricter rules on limiting immigration.

This also represented a rise compared to the pre-referendum quarter of this year, as application numbers rose from 53 to 74, according to analysis by law firm Collyer Bristow.

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Non-UK individuals willing to invest at least £2m can enter in the UK for an initial period of three years under the Tier 1 visa scheme, with the option of extending it by two years.

The fall in the value of sterling since the vote has made the UK more attractive for foreign investors, while reducing immigration was seen as a major issue during the referendum campaign.

While the investor visa only applies to non-EU citizens – rather than EU citizens who already enjoy freedom of movement – the failure of governments to limit overall immigration numbers was a central concern for Leave voters.

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Former Prime Minister David Cameron – and former home secretary Theresa May – had promised to limit immigration to the “tens of thousands”.

Individuals can invest in government bonds as well as in companies – except property investors – to gain access to the investor visas. Larger investments of £10m entitle people to apply to settle in Britain after only two years.

James Badcock, partner at Collyer Bristow, said: “The collapse in the pound has created a window of opportunity for the investor visa for many wealthy foreigners.”

“The UK has always been a popular destination with wealthy foreigners due to its stable economic and political climate. We expect to see more applications in the near future as many fear that the government will tighten immigration rules in the aftermath of Brexit.”