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UK may offer visas to foreign benefactors of universities

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Visas for overseas millionaires will be auctioned to the highest bidders or “sold” in exchange for donations to hospitals and universities, under proposals by the UK Government’s official migration advisers.

Wealthy foreigners would make offers for a proportion of so-called investor visas, which allow them and their families to live in Britain indefinitely.

A second option to be outlined in the report is to offer the visas to millionaires who are willing to endow good causes, such as universities, colleges and hospitals.

The ideas are to be put forward amid concern that the existing investor visa route is not working to the country’s economic advantage and has become a “cheap” way for many wealthy Russians and Chinese to remain indefinitely.

Investments of 1 million, 5 million or 10 million pounds can be made in gilts, or government bonds, or in British businesses in return for permission to apply for permanent residence in five, three or two years respectively. Applicants can then seek UK citizenship.

The gilts can later be sold, meaning that the arrangement is effectively a loan, MPs have been told. Yet critics say that the proposed new system would be absurd for offering visas for sale without any long-term investment.

The proposals, which will be published next month, will form part of a report from the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee.

Professor David Metcalf, chairman of the committee, said that it was time for Britain to think a little bit more creatively about the operation of the investor visa route into the country.

“It may very well be that we should be auctioning some of these slots,” he said. “There should be proper discussion about it. Equally 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 pounds 10 million.”

Members of the committee have spent months looking at the route under which 530 investor visas were issued, together with 1,038 visas for their dependants, in the year to the second quarter of 2013. Since 2008 rich Russians, Chinese and Americans have topped the applications list. (The Australian)

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