Offshore

Henderson Rowe Boosts Investment Visa Business, Driven By China

Jackie Bennion, Deputy Editor, 20 September 2019

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Applicants from China have doubled in the last year. 

Following a surge in UK Tier 1 visa applications from Chinese nationals, Henderson Rowe has partnered with immigration specialist Elivisa Consulting to enhance the service.

In the new partnership, the investment manager will become the preferred investment services provider for Elivisa clients applying for UK status and meeting the eligibility requirements set out by the Home Office and the Financial Conduct Authority. 

An immigration specialist for the Chinese market, Elivisa said that the number of UK investment visa applications has risen by 36 per cent in the first half of the year, with Chinese applicants accounting for more than 40 per cent of the total. Henderson Rowe said it is ready to capitalise on this rise. 

The UK has long been an attractive destination for overseas investors. It is a global financial hub with a favourable tax regime and offers high living and educational standards. But Tier 1 visas, often dubbed “golden visas,” have come under fire as a fast track to citizenship that lacks oversight and is far too easy a route for money laundering.

As it stands, the visas offer non-EU nationals a path to UK residency based on a minimum £2 million investment, which allows applicants ‘indefinite leave to remain’ status after five years and a UK passport after an additional year.

In December 2018, the programme was abruptly suspended, and swiftly reinstated with a warning from the government that certain eligibility aspects would be tightened. Since April, applicants must prove that sources of investment have been held for at least two years, up from 90 days previously. The rules on how money is invested once visa applicants are in the UK have also been tightened; investments must now benefit the UK economy more directly. Gilts, for example, have been ruled out as an investment option. 

Another wrinkle has been souring UK-Russia relations over the poisoning in Salisbury of former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and the fact that a majority of those who have benefited from the Tier 1 programme since being introduced in 2008 have been wealthy Russians. The Home Office caused headlines last year when it refused to extend Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich’s residency status forcing him to quickly relocate to Israel.

Calls for more transparency on how these programmes operate and more oversight on checking credentials have put firms in the business of looking after visa applicants in often-defensive positions. 

Artur Baluszynski, director and head of research at Henderson Rowe, said of the partnership with Elivisa: it “reinforces the quality of our services to Tier 1 Visa investors, as well as our unwavering commitment to the underlying purpose of the Tier 1 Visa programme. Our success is built upon providing a bespoke and personalised service for all clients,” he added.

More than 1,000 applications for Tier 1 visas were received last year, with the majority coming from China and Russia, followed by Australia and the US. 

Joanne Wang, head of Elivisa, said that Henderson‘s "approachable style combined with its rigorous investment approach makes it an ideal partner for qualifying clients seeking resident status in the UK.”

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