New UK visa rules could spur investment opportunities
Updated: 2011-03-18 09:12
By Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)
London - Foreign entrepreneurs and investors who will contribute to economic growth can settle in the United Kingdom faster under new visa rules unveiled on Wednesday.
Currently, investors must have at least 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to invest in shares and government bonds, entitling them to gain permanent residence after five years.
Entrepreneurs who can create ten jobs or turn over 5 million pounds for their UK business in a three-year period will also be able to settle in the UK more quickly. "Entrepreneurs and investors can play a major part in our economic recovery, and I want to do everything I can to ensure that Britain remains an attractive destination for them," Damian Green, the UK immigration minister, said at a press conference.
"I have sent out a clear message - the UK remains open for business, and we want those who have the most to offer to come and settle here," he said.
The new rule is an effort to cherry-pick those foreigners the UK deems most likely to boost growth and investment.
Jack Wang, director of London Direct Associates Ltd, which specializes in visa and immigration matters for individuals, said that the UK government wants to attract overseas money directly as the country's economy is still struggling to recover. "More money, faster settling," he said.
It was also announced that a new visit visa will be created for prospective entrepreneurs. This will allow them to enter the UK in order to secure their funding and make arrangements for starting their business before they transfer onto a full entrepreneur visa.
Major investors will also enjoy more flexibility, as they will be allowed to spend up to 180 days a year, rather than 90, outside the UK before they lose their right to settlement.
Christine Lee, the chief legal advisor to the Chinese embassy to the UK and also legal advisor to the All China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, called on the UK government to reform the formalities of Chinese business visas to the UK.
She noted that more Chinese investors go overseas as China's economy becomes stronger. Most of them do not aim at immigration, but they can bring opportunities for the UK. However, many investors and merchants encountered difficulties applying for a business visa to the UK.
Many UK business people are aware that China will lead the development of the global economy in the future, Lee said.
Peng Jiang, a consultant of London-based Empire Alliance Consulting, predicted that some wealthy Chinese students may seek to do business in the UK, as the British government proposes to tighten restrictions on student visas.
The UK is looking at ways to reduce the number of foreign students who enter the country. The controversial proposals include closing the post-study work route and reducing the number of universities allowed to accept foreign students.
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