The declining economic situation in Russia has caused a sharp increase in the number of wealthy Russians looking to settle in the UK.
The UK Home Office has released figures for 2014 that show a 69% increase in Tier 1 investment visas issued to Russian nationals compared to the same period in 2013. A total of 162 investor visas were issued to Russian nationals between January and September 2014, as opposed to 96 in the same period in 2013.
Additionally, in the six months to October 2014, the number of high-end London properties bought by Russian nationals had risen by 13%.
Reports indicate that Russians are leaving their home country in greater numbers mainly due to worsening economic conditions. The recent crash of the Ruble caused by falling oil prices and strict western sanctions has left many Russians unwilling to face further economic uncertainty back home.
But while the number of Russians leaving their homeland is expected to increase, recent changes to the UK Tier 1 investor visa scheme may stem their flow into the UK.
New rules that came into force last month raised the minimum investment amount required from £1 million to £2 million. Also, the investment will face new restrictions – any purchase of property will no longer be counted towards the investment requirement. Analysts believe this change to be a response to rising property prices as well as to the housing shortage in the UK.
Normally, visa holders have to wait for five years before they are eligible for permanent residency, and an additional one year to be eligible for the UK citizenship. But Tier 1 visa holders can apply for permanent residency after three years if they have invested £5 million, or after two years in case of a £10 million investment.
According to the UK Home Office, Tier 1 visas typically take up to 30 days to be processed, but if the applicant is already in the UK, they can get the visa processed within 24 hours by paying an additional fee.