Migration committee recommends changes to entrepreneur visa program

2 Nov 15



What is the change? The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended an overhaul of the United Kingdom’s Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa program in order to “improve the quality of entrepreneurs and maximise the economic benefit to the country.”

What does the change mean? The committee suggested that business leaders play a role in helping select the entrepreneurs who are admitted to the U.K. under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) program. It also recommended increased monitoring and suggested that the government introduce a separate visa route for “talented entrepreneurs” looking to establish start-up businesses in the U.K.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. The committee is conducting a thorough review of the U.K.’s migration routes and is expected to issue additional reports in the coming months.
  • Visas/permits affected: Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visas.
  • Business impact: The recommendations may make it more difficult for entrepreneurs to come to the U.K. via the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route.
  • Next steps: The Home Office is expected to review and respond to the committee’s recommendations.

Background: The MAC, an independent body made up of senior economists and researchers, is reviewing the U.K.’s immigration routes with a view toward restricting the number of migrants coming to the country.

In issuing its report last week on the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) routes, the committee suggested that the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route is being used by some migrants as a low-cost alternative to the Tier 1 (Investor) route and that it often results in the establishment of “low quality businesses.” The committee suggested making the route more selective by using industry experts to select applicants and to establish routine monitoring of successful applicants. It also suggested establishing a route specifically for highly qualified migrants looking to establish start-up businesses.

The committee was less critical of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route, which it says works well and should be expanded.

BAL Analysis: While Prime Minister David Cameron has said he wants to reduce the number of skilled workers coming to the U.K., government officials have also made it clear they want to make sure the U.K. is a destination for entrepreneurs and investors. The changes recommended by the committee are aimed at making the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) program more selective and, if adopted, could make coming to the U.K. via this route more challenging.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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