One suspects that whoever coined the phrase ‘if you call them, they will come’ didn’t say it with UK immigration in mind. Certainly, if a recently released report into UK entrepreneur visa applications is anything to go by, immigrant entrepreneurs are facing stiff challenge when attempting to set up businesses on our sunny shores.
Despite data revealing a positive uptake of applications for the entrepreneur visa between 2008 and 2013 – a massive total increase of 3,400% over four years in fact – over 50% of applicants were turned down last year. These are the shocking findings of A UK Immigration System open to Innovation and Promising Entrepreneurs?, the report published by Migreat, the immigration advice service.
The report revealed that despite the entrepreneur visa existing to make it easier for any genuine foreign individual to set up shop in the UK, migrant entrepreneurs are still facing tough challenges when it comes to extended residence in the country, one of which are delays in returning passports. They have called for the following measures to be implemented to help boost their chances:
- Increased flexibility in the format of important documentation and a reduction of red tape by banks and venture capitalists
- Tailored rules on timing of the funding process in order to match the reality of young entrepreneurs
- Increased participation of third parties, such as private and individual investors, in the genuine entrepreneur test that is currently processed by caseworkers that are unsure about entrepreneurial ventures
The report summarised that a “current tone of hostility” towards immigration and that strict rules imposed on immigrants suggested that the UK was “closed to business.”
Despite the findings, Simon Horsfield, employment lawyer and partner at Pincent Masons, claimed that the UK was still an appealing prospect for many immigrants.
He said: “Many of these entrepreneurs will have been attracted to some of the UK’s fastest-growing business sectors, such as the UK’s rapidly expanding IT start-up sector, which is centred around ‘silicon roundabout’ in London.”
“These entrepreneurs can be hugely beneficial to the economy – they’ll bring fresh ideas, create new jobs and provide a boost just when the economy needs it.”