Monday 27 January 2020 12:01 am

Surge in investor visa applications from China’s super-rich

The number of super-rich Chinese individuals applying to live in the UK through an investor visa jumped by a third last year, new figures have revealed.

The number of high net worth and ultra high net worth applications rose 32 per cent to 202 in the year to the end of September, up from 153 the previous year.

These applications were made up of 171 people from mainland China and 31 from Hong Kong, according to private equity firm Growthdeck, which compiled the figures.

The rise is thought to have been fuelled by delays when applying for the equivalent US investor visa, which have forced a growing number of China’s wealthy elite to apply to the UK instead.

The delays, caused by a backlog of applications and uncertainty over recent rule changes, mean some applicants reportedly face a wait of up to 16 years before having their visa approved.

“Fears that the UK’s investor visa programme would be pulled by the last UK government, and long delays when applying to the US, resulted in a surge in UK applications during 2019,” said Samuel Hu, head of overseas investors at Growthdeck.

“The General Election result has provided greater certainty over the future of the UK economy and its tax regime. This certainty is important for foreign high net worths looking to diversify away from their home markets.”

The tier one investor visa allows those who invest £2m or more in the UK to live there for three years and four months, with the possibility of a two-year extension.

The UK is often seen by foreign investors as a secure jurisdiction in which to hold assets, while the country also has a track record of protecting investors from the state seizure of legally obtained assets.

Chinese investors may also have taken advantage of a decline in the value of the pound, while trade tensions between Washington and Beijing have made the UK a more attractive destination.