According to a recent survey conducted by the Investment Migration Council (IMC), the British public is divided on citizenship and residency by investment schemes. 42 percent of UK residents disagree with high net worth individuals acquiring citizenship or permanent residence in a foreign country through investment.
The IMC’s research sampled the opinions of 1,000 UK residents, shedding light on both public perspectives on the programs as well as the scope of knowledge of their existence.
When asked specifically about the UK’s Tier 1 Investor Visa program, the oldest age group surveyed showed strong disapproval, with only 8 percent of those over 55 voicing support. In contrast, 60 percent of the youngest generation (18-34) believes those willing to invest in a foreign country should be permitted to live there.
At 46 percent, almost half of those asked were not even aware of the existence of government programs that allow foreign nationals to invest in exchange for citizenship or residency.
Over 355 foreign investor applicants were granted a UK Tier 1 visa last year, each contributing a required minimum of £2 million per application. Despite this injection of capital, only 37 percent of those surveyed think that investment from these programs benefits the economy and society at large. 35 percent believed there was no economic impact while the remaining 31 percent were undecided.
Respondents from London responded the most favorably to investment migration programs, with 50 percent attributing some positive economic impact to the Tier 1 scheme.
At 46 percent, nearly half of Britons question the legitimacy of the funds being used by applicants for the visa, despite the government’s stringent due diligence practices.
Bruno L’ecuyer, CEO of the Investment Migration Council, commented on the importance of enlightening the public on how these programs work and the benefits they can provide for countries that offer them:
“The industry needs to be built upon strong regulation to ensure it is recognised for the valid contribution it makes to strengthening economies. Our research shows that whilst those ‘in-the-know’ understand the valuable contribution investment migration has on economies, the wider public do not, and that sentiment can often dictate public policy and legislation that is not in the country’s best interest.”