GROWING UK TECH INDUSTRY SUPPORTIVE OF UK ENTREPRENEUR VISA PROGRAM
After much debate and discussion in recent years in respect to curbing the ever increasing UK Immigration, the UK Government is closely monitoring current immigration policies with a view to building an immigration system which is fair to both migrants and the citizens of UK.
The Government is now revisiting all immigration policies and is looking to amend, strengthen or abolish any type of visa to secure a balance and to attract non EU immigrants to the country. No visa category is untouched. Following the recent abolishment of the Tier 1 Post Study Visa, under which international students were able to seek employment with a British firm, the Government is now reviewing the UK Entrepreneur Visa program to determine ways of separating the real, genuine entrepreneur migrants from the not so serious investors who exploit the system to enter UK under the façade of the of the business visa.
The UK Entrepreneur program was created to allow non-EU business persons the opportunity to establish a new business in the UK, by way of investing a minimum of £200,000 into an existing company to secure job creation for British or EEA nationals, or persons with settled status in the UK. Currently under scrutiny from the Migration Advisory Committee, the UK Government is considering strengthening the program so that it achieves the right objective – i.e. job creation and business sustainability. It plans to do so by conducting a much more thorough review of investors’ applications, their business and marketing proposal and the type of business that they are wishing to set up in the UK. The success of the application will be tried against many new factors and proposals, which the UK Government plans to implement, and will depend on the quality of business brought in to the country.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommends a third party endorsement which would allow industry experts (such as UK Trade & Investment) to endorse applications for a limited number of visas and to conduct ‘the genuine entrepreneur test’ (where the investor does not have the endorsement of a third party). For example, the UKTI could work with Business Angels Association, a business network providing interesting funding solution, to explore the potential of approving such third party funding following the successful approval of a UK Entrepreneur application. Alternatively, less emphasises could be placed on assessing the authenticity of business plan but more evidence of investor’s entrepreneurial record, work experience, skills and qualification directly relevant to proposed business venture can be requested. Investors could also be asked to report on the progress of their business to demonstrate relevant activities to grow the business.
Following the Committees’ recommendations and much discussion with the UK Government in respect of the types of business that UK wants and needs established, it may be so that the investment threshold can be lowered to reflect low start-up funding requirements in some innovative sectors – specifically concerning UK’s fast growing technology industry.
In support of the fast evolving technology industry, the Government is prepared and eager to introduce new ‘tech nation’ visa scheme, which will allow start-up companies active in specific UK regions ( Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Sunderland) to secure the high calibre non-EU workers with ‘exceptional promise’ they need for the advancement of their products, services and operations.
Overall the MAC feels that these reforms could benefit both UK residents and the country itself in the way that it would only attract and encourage fewer but higher-quality applicants to apply. With refusal rates (currently at 48%), it is anticipate that the investors will eagerly embrace news on Government’s new proposals and changes to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category and its new look for 2016.