University donations could trigger visas for investors, suggests committee

Wealthy foreigners could gain visas and an accelerated route to British citizenship by donating large sums to universities, a new report suggests

February 25, 2014

Recommendations for the reform of the Tier 1 visa route for investors have been released today by the government’s migration advisors.

The Migration Advisory Committee suggests that around 100 “premium route” visas, offering a route to citizenship in two years rather than the normal five, should be auctioned off to the highest bidder each year.

A minimum bid would be worth £2.5 million, with £2 million being invested in the UK and the remaining money going towards “specific good causes rather than general revenue for the Exchequer”, it recommends.

Elsewhere in the report, the committee notes that it received evidence that Tier 1 investors “would be willing to donate significant amounts to worthy causes which are considered socially important, such as NHS Trusts and universities”.

“Such donations would add benefit, not least because they are gifts rather than loans,” Tier 1 (Investor) route: investment thresholds and economic benefits says.

It cautions that there is “limited evidence that this happens on a large scale”, although the law firm Mishcon de Reya provided evidence that 42 per cent (10 of 24) of its clients using the Tier 1 route made donations to UK charities.

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