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Spike in China’s HNWI seeking UK investor visas

The trade dispute between the US and China is discouraging HNWIs from China from living and investing in the US.
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Applications for Tier 1 Investor Visas by Chinese high net worth individuals jumped 54% between Q4 2018 and Q1 2019, according to Growthdeck, a private investment platform for high net worths.

There were 73 applications from mainland China and 10 from Hong Kong during the first quarter of the year, compared with a total of 54 in the final quarter of 2018.

It represents the highest figure for a quarter since Q4 2014.

Currency considerations

Growthdeck said that the ongoing trade war between the US and China is discouraging HNWIs from China from living and investing in the US.

This has made the UK an even more desirable destination for internationally mobile investors.

The weakness of sterling has also made the UK more popular as an investment destination for wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs. As the renminbi is also relatively weak at present, many Chinese high net worths seeking to diversify their investments overseas are focusing on investments in the UK.

The firm added that a rise in internationally mobile entrepreneurs looking to move to the UK is a positive development for the UK as it seeks to grow its economy post-Brexit.

Business investment by HNWIs from overseas can make a substantial contribution to job creation and increased tax revenue.

Fill the coffers

Samuel Hu, head of overseas investors at Growthdeck, said: “The escalating trade wars are likely to see more high net worth individuals accelerate plans to move to the UK and invest.

“When the weakness of both RMB and Sterling are taken into account, there are a lot of factors making the UK particularly attractive for Chinese entrepreneurs at present.

“As the UK adjusts to competing internationally post-Brexit, investment from overseas entrepreneurs can be a powerful stimulant for the economy. Chinese investors in the UK build businesses, create employment and grow the treasury’s tax receipts.”

Don’t tarry

Growthdeck said that recent uncertainty around the UK’s Tier 1 Investor Visa programme suggests that high net worth individuals in China should move quickly to make an application.

Late last year the government briefly announced the suspension of the investor visa programme, although it unexpectedly reinstated it the following week.

Earlier in 2018, a review of investor visas granted to Russian individuals was also announced.

America inundated

The US EB-5 visa scheme, a similar investor visa programme to the UK scheme, has been hit by falling numbers of applicants in recent years.

It was reported in June that the wait for an EB-5 visa for a Chinese national is now 16 years, as each country is limited to only 700 visas per year.

The minimum investment for an EB-5 visa will rise to $900,000 from $500,000 from November 2019.

Hu added: “The investor visa programme has served the British economy extremely well, but it may be vulnerable to changes in the UK political landscape.

“There is no guarantee that investor visas will be around in their current form indefinitely, so we’d encourage entrepreneurs in China to move applications forward now.”

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Part of the Mark Allen Group.