Immigration Data Shows Shift To The UK From US For Wealthy Chinese Investors

UK Investor Visa
UK Border control is seen in Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London (Photo: Reuters / Neil Hall)

Newly published immigration data has now shown a shift in the location being preferred by rich Chinese people for their migration and investment plans.

The data shows that wealthy Chinese citizens are now choosing alternative destinations in Europe as opposed to the United States. The shift has been seen as a direct result of the ongoing trade dispute between China and the United States.

In the first three months of 2019, applications for tier-1 investor visas to the UK had increased by more than 50 percent when compared to the previous quarter.

According to London-based investment services firm Growthdeck, the applications during the first quarter of 2019 was the highest ever recorded since the fourth quarter of 2014.

Tier-1 investor visas for the UK can only be obtained if a foreign citizen is able to invest more than £2 million in one or more British companies.

The so-called golden visa will is also applicable to the investor's dependents, allowing them the right to stay in the UK for up to three years and four months.

Investors also have the option to extend their stay and to apply for citizenship if they choose to.

According to Growthdeck's head of overseas investment, Samuel Hu, the increase in wealthy Chinese immigrants to the UK has been fueled by several key factors.

These factors include the already year-long trade dispute between China and the US, as well as the continuing decline in the value of the UK's currency. The combined factors have made the UK a sensible destination for rich Chinese citizens to diversify their investments.

In the United States, application for its EB-5 visa scheme has seen a significant decline. The visa scheme, which is the country's equivalent to the UK's investor program, saw a decline of more than 50 percent last year. The decline mainly involved the issuance of visas to China-born applicants, according to the data from the US State Department.

According to analysts, the main reason for the decline in visa applications to the US is clearly the ongoing trade war between both nations. The reported waiting time, which in some cases were up to 16 years, have also reduced interest in new applications. Analysts have also revealed that most Chinese investors now have fears of not being welcomed into the United States because of the trade war.

Unlike the UK, the US also imposes very strict enforcement of its global taxation policies. The US had also previously announced that it will be increasing the minimum investment to qualify for an EB-5 visa from $500,000 to $900,000 starting on November this year. Combined with rampant fraud and reports of lost investment, most Chinese investors are now canceling their US migration plans in favor of more suitable locations such as the UK.

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