Criminals who use “cash for visas” schemes to slip in and out of Britain are to face a crackdown from security minister Tom Tugendhat.
Mr Tugendhat wants to squeeze the ability of wealthy individuals to buy citizenship in dozens of countries in the Caribbean, Pacific and central America by investing as little as £60,000.
They then exploit the countries’ visa-waiver agreements with the UK which allow entry to Britain for up to six months ostensibly for tourism, business, study or medical treatment.
According to The Telegraph, the review follows an investigation into the UK’s golden visa schemes.
It revealed a “small minority” of wealthy foreign investors had been identified as high risk due to alleged links to corrupt activities or serious organised crime.
The Telegraph reported: “The tier 1 investor visa, which has since been closed, gave fast-track settlement to rich foreigners who were willing to bring millions of pounds to Britain.”
Mr Tugendhat told the Global Financial Integrity Conference in the US: “Citizenship by investment became popular over the last 20 or 30 years, and many different jurisdictions have introduced them in various different ways.
“We found that it was so open to abuse that we had to stop it. So we’ve closed down tier one visas. And we’re going through the process of making sure that none of those loopholes are left within our existing visa routine.
“Sadly, that means that we’ve got to look at some other jurisdictions because there are some places that have visa waivers with the UK who are effectively offering this loophole. We simply cannot have visa waivers with backdoor economies, it just doesn’t work.
“Whenever I fly, you’ll see in in-flight magazines, various different legal entities offering various different citizenship by investment offers. The island of Dominica was one of the ones that appeared in the in-flight magazine and all I can say is that the visa regime is being looked at.”
According to the report, Dominica’s “citizenship by investment” scheme boasts that payment of $100,000 (£83,000) into a state fund, or $200,000 for a real estate purchase provides a person with a Dominica passport.
Paraguay has one of the lowest investment demands for golden visas, at $70,000 (£60,000) and approval can take just 45 days.