Super Rich Foreigner to Pay £2.5m for a UK Visa

The plan to sell off UK citizenships is being met with indignation and derision. The home secretary’s migration advisory committee is advocating that visas be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Detractors are suggesting that the scheme will make the UK a laughingstock by turning Britain into another e-Bay. Under the visa scheme presented by the chairman of the committee, Sir David Metcalf, bidders would be required to cough up £2 million and also make a £500,000 gift to a “good causes fund.” That fund is still not clearly defined but could include designated charities, hospitals and schools. Any cash beyond the £2.5 auction reserve bid would be designated as philanthropic cash. Home Secretary Theresa May is mulling over the scheme.

The legal community is ringing the warning bell. A perception risk hangs over the entire scheme, said Charlie Pring, head of the legal team of Taylor Wessing. People will see this scheme as auctioning off British citizenship to wealthy bidders sans any necessary controls. Metcalf brushed off the criticism as unwarranted and short-sighted. He mocked his critics, stating: “Isn’t it awful to sell off visas?” Then he reminded his detractors that Britain is presently giving way visas free. “At the moment the Brits get very little out of this and the investors get an awful lot,” Metcalf said. Critics contend that the £500 million that this scheme might bring in would barely finance the national deficit for 48 hours. Others are also skeptical of the claims that these rich immigrants would purchase expensive digs and hire British staff to service their wealthy lifestyles.

Back in November, Prime Minister David Cameron popped in for curry and a pint at the British Curry Awards ceremony at Battersea in London. He supported a scheme to bring in more skilled curry chefs from India to replenish the diminishing stock of native English curry cooks. “I know this problem won’t be fixed overnight,” Cameron told the assembled curry restaurant owners. “It requires a long-term commitment on all sides,” he added. That speech raised questions about the government’s stated commitment to bring immigration under tighter control. As it stands today, the current investor visa scheme has proved particularly popular with wealthy individuals from the Middle East, China and Russia. More than 500 people applied as of September 2013.

Supporters of this latest visa scheme point out that London’s wealthy class spends £4 billion annually on goods and services, according to Ramidus Consulting, an analyst for property investment. A consultant there stated that the typical buyer of a £15 million home will spend £4 to £5 million on goods and services. Household staff topped out as one of the largest expenses. There’s additional concern, though, that many investments made by these wealthy newcomers are primarily government gilts or loans to businesses owned by these individuals. That spending is not particularly beneficial to the UK economy.

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