We have seen concerted efforts by the government to ensure that entrepreneurs actually move businesses and investments to the country. But an ever increasing gulf exists between the Government's openness rhetoric and the immigration process in the light of the reality experienced by overseas entrepreneurs trying to enter the UK.
'Britain is open - for business', a term used to refer to the government's renewed efforts to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to the country has been a major theme for recent British governments. In the wake of Brexit, the campaign grew even stronger, with London's Mayor Sadiq Khan Launching his version of the campaign 'London is Open' referring to the same intents.
But an ever increasing gulf exists between the Government's openness rhetoric and the immigration process in the light of the reality experienced by foreign entrepreneurs trying to enter the UK. We've seen a drop in entrepreneur applications, accompanied by a refusal rate of more than half. In the year ending March 2015 the UK granted only 842 main applicant entry clearance visas for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants, while refusing 949, according to ONS data.
Popular business and investment immigration routes include: -
This immigration route allows Non-European investors to invest at least £2,000,000 in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in a business registered and trading in the UK.
This route allows non-EEA entrepreneurs having access to £50,000 or £200,000 to come into the UK for the purpose of establishing or taking over an existing business.
In the light of recent developments, the importance of getting your Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa application right cannot overemphasised. The government itself alluded to the tightening of business immigration rules on its websites. "There was a 5,141 fall in work-related refusals, with Tier 1 entrepreneur refusals falling 4,207 reflecting tightening eligibility". The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa was not the only category to take a hit from tightening immigration rules, the Tier 1 Investor also suffered a bigger hit with tightened immigration rules. At year end, the UK had granted a total of just 192 Tier 1 (Investor) visas throughout 2015, down from 1,172 in the previous 12 months.
A story recently published by the Evening standard narrated the ordeal of a Russian entrepreneur, Alexander Shaf, who was refused his Tier 1 Entrepreneur extension application because of an administrative error which could now cause his flourishing business to collapse.
He had travelled to his country to look after his dying father where he missed a signature on his application. He is now in the process of a Judicial Review which in some cases could take up to 3 years.
"This is sending a big warning message to entrepreneurial communities across the globe - think twice before you decide to go to the UK. All your efforts, if not your life, can be ruined by negligent and formalistic work of the UK immigration authorities", Alexander warned.
Even though Alexander Shaf's outcry runs contrary to what the government is trying to achieve by 'Open Britain', the reality of the situation is that extra care must be taken when making business immigration applications.
Read the full story on the Standard.
The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa application especially extension is not one of those applications you gamble with attempting yourself. We actually recommend having an immigration lawyer on standby to advice on the impact of your actions on your immigration status during your initial 3 years.
The tightening of immigration rules was to ensure that only genuine entrepreneurs come into the country. The definitions of who a genuine entrepreneur though subjective is accessed within the boundaries of common sense and can be effectively navigated by a business immigration lawyer who is very experienced in this maze.
The team at Reiss Edwards consists of some of London's leading business immigration lawyers. Should you require expert legal advice in making a business immigration application please call us on 020 3744 2797.