UK visas and citizenship to be auctioned to overseas millionaires

Published:  9 Jan at 6 PM
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A report in the London Times stating that the UK government is preparing to auction off UK visas, residency and citizenship to high-bidding foreign millionaires is causing anger and controversy.

The report states that, under the scheme, wealthy foreigners could buy their way into the UK by donating to hospitals or universities or bidding for investor visas. The controversial scheme, it seems, was dreamed up and put forward by the government’s immigration advisors and is already attracting a raft of negative comments.

The proposal is being put forward due to concerns that the present visa system is not bringing enough money into the economy and is being used by wealthy Chinese and Russian nationals to gain a cheap foothold in the country. It suggests that investments of one, five and ten million could be made via purchases of gilts, government bonds or UK businesses in return for permanent residence and ultimately citizenship.

The gilts and other investments may be sold in the long term without affecting visas or permanent residence, putting the initial investment on the same ranking as a loan. Critics are up in arms, saying that the system as it is proposed is absurd, as it’s simply offering visas for sale without any ongoing investment or commitment to the country.

The newspaper is comparing the proposal with a similar citizenship scheme recently introduced in Malta, where a Maltese passport can now be, in effect, purchased by foreigners not intending to live on the island. As with the Maltese scheme, UK citizenship allows freedom of travel to and residence in any EU member state.
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