Fears that new visa routes
will attract fewer

Last month, the Home Office announced two new visa routes for those coming to the UK to set up a business. The Start-up and Innovator categories will replace Tier 1 (graduate entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (entrepreneur).

Entrepreneurs in either category will need the endorsement of a designated business incubator or educational institution before its application can be successful.

The routes opened officially on 30 March, but many of the endorsing bodies that are crucial to the new system are not operational yet. Some admit they will not be ready until the Autumn, while another has already pulled out of the scheme altogether.

A spokesperson for SETsquared, an enterprise partnership of universities in the South of England, revealed:

I’m taking steps to be removed from the list. We don’t have the capacity to deal with this.’

The Home Office has also admitted that it expects to grant fewer visas than previously. Does this go against the government’s public assertion that Britain is ‘open for business’?

A spokesman at the Economic Migration Policy team said:

‘We are not seeking to replicate similar numbers of entry clearance grants to those seen in the previous categories.

‘Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) contained poor quality businesses which were not innovative and added little economic benefit to the UK.

‘A key purpose of the reforms is to focus the new categories on higher quality applications and businesses.

‘Other countries which operate similar immigration routes typically grant numbers of visas in the low hundreds (or less) each year.

‘That said, we have no target number of applications and there is no limit on numbers in either of the new categories. Success will be determined by quality, not quantity.’

Last year a total of 1,500 visas were granted to entrepreneurs and graduate entrepreneurs (not including their dependants).

The new routes have already been criticised for being too risky and restrictive to be appealing.

Ekaterina Gladkova, senior account manager for entry clearance at Smith Stone Walters, believes this sends out the wrong message. She said:

Instead of attracting new overseas entrepreneurs and making entry criteria a lot more flexible and easy to achieve, the Home Office has just shut the door to businesses.’

If you are seeking to set up your business in the UK, talk to Smith Stone Walters. Our company has 18 years’ experience in managing a variety of UK immigration law matters. Contact us here to find out how we can help.

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