Many successful and wealthy individuals and families look for the opportunity to migrate their residence and citizenship every year. Figures provided by Henley & Partners suggest that almost 110,000 HNW and UHNW families migrated in 2019.
China, India and Russia are amongst the leading countries that migrants left, with Canada, Switzerland, Australia and the UK being amongst the leading destinations of choices for these individuals with smaller nations including Cyprus and Malta also proving popular destinations.
Many of these countries offer so-called residence and citizenship by investment programmes - often providing the right to remain, become a citizen and apply for a passport in return for an investment into the local economy either in business or property. Residence and citizenship programmes often go 'hand-in-hand' with tax incentives such as the UK's Resident Non-Domiciled (RND) tax regime, with both Italy and Greece offering similar schemes.
However, citizenship by investment programmes are not without controversy as it has been claimed that they can make it easy to launder money and for criminals to obtain European passports. In October 2020, the Cyprus 'golden passport' scheme, which offers citizenship and an EU passport in return for an investment in the Cyprus economy of €2m, was suspended following allegations made by the news network Al Jazeera. The move came after an Al Jazeera investigation showed that politicians were willing to help criminals acquire passports. It is likely that other citizenship by investment programmes including those offered by Malta, Montenegro and Portugal will also come under scrutiny.
The UK tier-1 investor visa programme has not been without controversy. In December 2018, it was widely rumoured that the programme was to be suspended but the Migration Policy Team at the Home Office announced the following:
"The Tier 1 (Investor) visa is not currently suspended. However, the Government remains committed to reforming the route. A further announcement will be made in due course. Any suspension would be implemented through changes to the Immigration Rules."
Source: UK Government Website (www.gov.uk)
Official statement released by the Migration Policy Team of the Home Office on Tuesday, 11 December 2018, clarifying that the Tier-1 Investor VISA was not suspended.
Subsequent changes were made to the rule in 2019 and currently to apply for permanent settlement. known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK after 2, 5 or 10 years, it is necessary to make qualifying investments in the UK economy as follows:
Apply after 2 years = £10m
Apply after 3 years = £5m
Apply after 5 years = £2m
Once permanent settled has been granted, it is then possible to apply for a British passport.
The investments must be made into share capital or loan capital (for example, corporate bonds) in active and trading UK registered companies, other than those principally engaged in property investment, property management or property development; or pooled investment vehicles which receive funding from the UK government or a developed government department or one of its agencies. UK Government Bonds no longer qualify.
The UK also offers the attractive Resident Non-Domiciled (RND) tax system to new arrivals. Under this system, the RND must pay tax on UK source income and gains, only providing the income and gains arising outside the UK are not brought into (remitted) to the UK. After 7 years, the benefit of remittance basis comes at a cost starting at £30,000 (p/a) and after being resident in the UK for 15 out of the previous 20 tax years, the remittance basis is no longer available. Assets held outside of the UK can also be outside of UK Inheritance Tax (IHT) which is charged at 40% upon death, on UK located assets and on worldwide assets for individuals who are domiciled in the UK.
Investments held under the tier-1 investor visa programme cannot be held outside of the UK and therefore income and gains arising are taxable in full.
Tax benefits may vary as a result of statutory charges and their value will depend on individual circumstances. Specific risks associated with particular investments are detailed on this website and in our printed literature.
It is important if you are thinking of applying for a tier-1 investor visa that you can prove that you have the required amount (i.e. £2m, £5m or £10m) available and ready to bring into the UK, if it is not already in the UK. If you are relying on money held in a joint account, then you must have proof from your husband/wife or civil partner etc. that the money is available for your tier-1 visa and some form of proof of your relationship. If the money is not held in pounds sterling (GBP £) on the application form and if it is held outside the UK, then it must be readily available to transfer into the UK, so watch out for currency controls. If you have not held this money for two years, then you will need to be able to prove where it came from i.e. a gift.
You must also open an account with a UK regulated investment manager in order to deposit the money. This manager will have to provide a letter to the UK Home Office confirming certain things such as your name, account number and that you have opened an account in the UK with not less than £2m to readily invest in the country, and that the bank has carried out all appropriate due diligence and know-your-customer (KYC) checks.
Rosecut can help you to prepare for your tier-1 investor visa application and has up-to-date information on many of the citizenship by investment programmes, which we are happy to share with you. We also work closely with many of the specialist advisors in this area and are happy to make introductions. Rosecut also supports our custodian WealthKernel Ltd with the management of tier-1 investor visa portfolios, and portfolios for RNDs, so we are very familiar with the taxation rule and the avoidance of investing in non-UK situs assets.