UK visa 'auction' for well-off foreigners planned


UK passport and US visa background with shallow depth of field. inspector note please use model release of file 8290405 if neede

A controversial immigration plan could see wealthy foreigners buy British visas if they give cash to British universities, schools and hospitals. A full report is expected to arrive on Home Secretary Theresa May's desk next month outlining the idea.

What could be the entry ticket price - and could UK citizenship be handed to the highest bidder?

Visas for sale

Currently it's possible to buy UK residency for up to five years if foreigners invest large sums of money in government bonds. Many Chinese, Russians and US citizens have taken advantage. However the current arrangement means these 'investments' act more like a short-term loan to HM Treasury, rather than long-term investment in the UK economy.

For some wealthy foreigners it's a comparatively cheap way to be UK-based. But the new auction proposals would possibly extend existing time limits, enabling the higher bidders to remain in the UK 'indefinitely', and possibly applying for citizenship later.

Quoted in the Telegraph, Professor Sir David Metcalf, chairman of the Government's Migration Advisory Committee, said "it may very well be that we should be letting people in if they endow a Cambridge college, a major teaching hospital or the London School of Economics with £10 million".

Not popular

More than 500 'investor' visa were approved in the second quarter of 2013. A recent poll, the British Social Attitudes Survey, claimed 77% of Britons want an immigration cut with just 4% wanting more immigration. More than 50% who thought immigration was good for the UK economy still wanted, surprisingly, immigration cuts.

Recently leader of the right-wing UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, said he wants to see a five-year ban on British immigration. Meanwhile health minister Lord Howe says charges for health care for migrants are planned, such as emergency care and eye and dental work. Full details will be announced in March 2014, reports.

The Independent Office for National Statistics (ONS) claims the population of the UK will reach 70m in 2027 compared to 63.7m today and that the population will increase by almost 10m in the next 25 years.

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