Tier 1 Entrepreneur applications have been reviewed by the Migration Advisory Committee (‘MAC’) which has released its publication: ‘Review of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Graduate Entrepreneur routes’.
Finding that a more selective approach to Tier 1 Entrepreneur applications would both improve the quality of entrepreneurs entering under the route and maximise the economic benefit to the UK, the MAC has published a number of key recommendations including:
- “That the Government should consider introducing a separate visa route for talented entrepreneurs looking to establish startup businesses in the UK. This low volume, highly selective route would aim to attract the best entrepreneurial talent, with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) approved accelerator programmes allowed to endorse individuals for a limited number of visas.
- Where appropriate partners are identified, the Government may wish to build third party endorsement into the selection process. In particular, the Home Office could work with UKTI and the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) to explore the feasibility of approving selected angel investor networks or syndicates to provide third party endorsement under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route.
- The selection of migrant entrepreneurs should be carried out by industry experts where possible. Options for assessing the applications could include: appointing a panel of experts with expertise in early stage entrepreneurship, such as angel investors or venture capitalists; recruiting specialist immigration officers qualified to review business plans; working with other government departments such as UKTI or BIS; or outsourcing the assessment of business plans to a professional services firm.
- The entrepreneur visa routes should aim to attract entrepreneurs with innovative business proposals.”
In its report the MAC has also made numerous references to alleged abuse in Tier 1 Entrepreneur applications and has also highlighted some of the weaknesses of the current genuine entrepreneur test. The Government will now review the MAC’s recommendations and will decide on any changes to be made to the Immigration Rules.
We anticipate that the changes to Tier 1 Entrepreneur applications are likely to be significant and could include, for instance, an annual limit on the total number of places available under the new scheme, possibly in the low hundreds, combined with much tougher conditions of entry into the scheme.
Generally significant changes to the Immigration Rules are made in October and April and it is therefore likely that the major overhaul of the scheme will take place in April 2016. This is also likely to be the date when significant changes are made to reduce the numbers entering under Tier 2 following the MAC’s ongoing review of that route.
We would advise those who are preparing to make an application for leave under either Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) or Tier 2 to do so sooner rather than later. For legal advice and assistance, please contact us.