The government will suspend golden ticket investment visas, which allow non-EU nationals to stay in the UK if they invest £2m, amid a crackdown on organised crime.
Just buying into UK companies, or buying government bonds, will no longer be enough for Russian oligarchs, Middle Eastern oil barons and other super rich investors to stay in the UK.
The tier 1 investor visas, which gave investors permission to stay in Britain for up to three years, are being scrapped at midnight tomorrow.
The changes will force applicants who want to come to the UK to hire British auditors to comb through their accounts and prove they control the investments.
Around 1,000 people applied for the visas in the past year.
“I have been clear that we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system,” immigration minister Caroline Nokes said.
She added: “That is why I am bringing forward these new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration system.”
Mark Giddens, a partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: “Halting the investor visa programme on the eve of Brexit sends completely the wrong message to international investors.”
“International investors do not need another reason to not invest in the UK and halting the scheme now seems like very poor timing.
“While it is clear that the investor visa scheme is in need of reform, it would have made more sense to make the appropriate changes immediately rather than imposing an abrupt suspension.”
In September, the National Crime Agency said it would crack down on “corrupt elites” funnelling dirty money into or through the UK.
A month later the agency won a case against the wife of an Azeri banker who had challenged attempts to establish how she bought £22m of British property.
It used the first unexplained wealth order in the case. UWOs can be used to force those with over £50,000 in assets to prove they are legitimate.