There has been some controversy in the UK over the recommendations of a committee to auction UK ‘permanent residency visas’ to the highest bidders among the wealthy. At present, too, there is a scheme which is actually an ‘investor visa’ scheme that lets wealthy aliens (typically, Russians, Chinese, Middle Easterners, etc.) to avail of a route to immigrate to the U.K. The proposed ‘permanent visa permit for the highest bidder’ is being criticized by some who are describing it as ‘e-bay culture’ being fostered in the immigration system also.
In/under the earlier system, also called as the ‘tier 1’ of the ‘points-based immigration system’, wealthy individuals could accelerate their immigration process to settle in the UK for up to 2-5 years, based on the ‘criterion of the amount of investment’. This scheme has/had obviously become popular and annually about 600 applications are/were being lodged by applicants under the scheme. The advantage (or, main difference) of this type of immigration visa as compared to other immigration types is that the applicant does not need to know English, nor does he/she needs to have a job. But, this scheme seemed to be helping, or, helpful only to the applicant (and, not to Britain) as there were some loopholes in the system that allowed the applicant to lodge his/her investment funds required by/for the immigrant visa only into schemes that helped them, rather than help the government. Thus, for example, investments were made to government gilts, or were issued as loans to the applicant's own businesses, neither of which contributed directly to Britain’s economy.
So, it is being argued by the new committee’s members who went into this issue recently that the new recommendations would bypass the difficulties/disadvantages of the earlier scheme. Thus, one of the new recommendations is that 100 ‘premium’ investor visas would be given for auction, each year. These would be sealed bids with a minimum ‘reserve price’ of UK £2.5m. Those who succeed in the auction (i.e. the highest bidders) would have to invest the minimum amount of UK £2.5m in gilts, infrastructure bonds and other such similar investments. The successful bidders would also be required to donate £500,000 for a ‘good cause’.
But, the benefits of the new scheme for those successful bidders are also manifold. They would be able to settle down in Britain by way of a fast track route i.e. in about two years. Their U.K. residency requirement would also be greatly reduced, bringing it down to a mere 90 days a year.
But, it also appears that the committee’s recommendations are quite multifarious and that also that it and the government is open to more creative ideas or proposals regarding this issue.