Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Process Criticised
The government’s crackdown on Tier 1 entrepreneur visa ‘fraud’ has prompted complaints from immigration activists culminating in a direct appeal to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee.
The rate of refusals for Tier 1 entrepreneur visas is as high as 70% and whilst Immigration Minister James Brockenshire has celebrated that figure as a sign of his government’s effective control of UK immigration, activists are alarmed at what they sees as the arbitrary and often unjustified refusal of legitimate candidates.
Brockenshire has suggested that a tough stance in relation to Tier 1 entrepreneur visas in particular has been key to cutting overall net migration to the UK by a third in recent months. Aside from the fact that such visas are relatively rare – less than 1,200 were granted in 2014 – critics of the government’s policies are claiming that the recently rewritten rules governing the visas are being unfairly applied.
Key to the complaints is the highly subjective ‘Genuine Entrepreneur Test’ which applicants are now subject to. Failure to provide ‘evidence’ that the applicant is a genuine entrepreneur and to demonstrate a fully developed and viable business plan is sufficient grounds on which to reject an application. Since the proof of such a business plan is by its nature indeterminate, the test is by no means an objective measure.
Critics have described the application of the test as often ‘unfair and unjustified’. The Home Affairs Committee has been directly lobbied on the matter, albeit with no evident impact.
Tier 1 entrepreneur visas are available to applicants with £200,000 to invest in (i.e. to start, take over or run) a UK-based business, although in certain cases the figure may be reduced to £50,000. The visa allows an initial stay of three years and four months in the UK for the applicant and their dependant family members.
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