According to Home Office statistics, the number of Russians granted fast-track visas — given to those who will invest at least £2 million ($US3.1 million) in the UK — jumped by 69% in 2014, compared with the previous year, The Sunday Times first reported.
Between January and September of this year, 162 visas were given to Russian multi-millionaires, an increase of 66 visas from the same period in 2013.
The Times notes a dramatic uptick in visa applications after March, when the first round of western sanctions were placed on Russia over its military action in Ukraine. The ruble’s slide and falling oil prices are also to blame for the flight out of Russia.
Under the terms of Britain’s Tier 1 Investor visa, recipients can stay for a maximum of 3 years and 4 months with an investment of £2 million or more in UK government bonds or UK-registered companies. Applicants can’t invest in property, which had been permitted until new restrictions were imposed last month, The Financial Times reports. According to the website, applicants can expect a decision within 3 weeks.
After two years in the UK, those with investor visas can apply to stay permanently if they invest £10 million ($US1.6 million). A £5 million ($US7.8 million) investment will allow you to apply after three years.
According to the Times, roughly half of the Russians that enter the scheme want to invest more than £5 million. Kamal Rahman, a lawyer at a firm that handles many Russian applications, told the newspaper: “The thing our Russian clients are interested in is citizenship. Investing the higher amount reduces the time from six years to five.”
Interestingly, the news follows a Bloomberg report that Russian buyers are disappearing from London’s property market. “The ruble has now declined to such an extent that buying property in another currency, like sterling, is around twice as expensive as it was at the beginning of the year,” Business Insider’s Mike Bird noted.
Wealthy Russians are also feeling the sting when it comes to vacation spending. Russian tourist’s are cancelling their holiday plans to Thailand amid the collapse of the ruble.