In an initiative to make visa processes simpler for Chinese investors, the UK has launched the Select Business Scheme (SBS) which allows Chinese businessmen or their representatives to make a visa application with only three documents – an application form, a letter of employment and an invitation letter.
The new simplified scheme is an attempt to strengthen Britain’s business relations with China, and it is now available to members of China-Britain Business Council (CBBS), companies recommended by UK trade and Investment, and the Confederation of British Industry.
“Securing a visa can be a concern for Chinese companies. I wholeheartedly welcome the Select Business Scheme UK, which will streamline the process for those companies, and I very much hope that CBBC’s members will take advantage of the service to strengthen links between Chinese and British companies,” says CBBC chairman James Meyer Sasson.
Statistics show that the UK receives the largest amount of investment from Chinese businesses in the European Union. Many Chinese businessmen use the Tier 1 investor visa route to enter the UK through investments. This year until June, 735 investor visas were granted by the UK, of which 295 were given to Chinese investors, and 180 to Russians.
Recently, the UK had doubled the minimum investment requirement under Tier 1 from £1 million to £2 million, raising apprehensions that this may deter Chinese investment in the country. However, industry sources say that the increase in investment amount is hardly a deterrent for the wealthy Chinese, who will in fact now be motivated to ensure better returns on their investments instead of spending it merely to gain British citizenships.
Another change to Tier 1 included removal of the requirement to invest 25% of the total investment in a UK property. This was done to avoid property price fluctuations in the UK. Now the entire investment must be made in British government bonds or as loan or share capital in UK companies. Moreover now there is no need to ‘top-up’ investments following market devaluation as was the requirement earlier.