Tier 1 Entrepreneur category – potential changes

In March 2015, the Migration Advisory Committee (the MAC) was commissioned by the Home Office to review the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category, with a view to ensuring that the potential economic benefit of the route is maximised as well as considering attractiveness to genuine entrepreneurs.

Since then, there have been rumours that the Home Office might introduce new changes to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category. The question is: will it change in November 2015? In our opinion, this is unlikely, since the MAC has not yet published the report; but what changes are likely to be introduced? What is certain is that the existing Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route does not seem to deliver the needed economic benefits and the current political party is under a lot of pressure over immigration.

The MAC will need to address some of the questions listed below

· Does having a minimum funding requirement of £50k/£200k assist in identifying entrepreneur migrants who are likely to be successful in starting a business? What would be the impact of a) lowering or b) raising the threshold?

· Should the route be targeted at particular types of businesses? For example, particular sectors with a high-growth potential.

· What other criteria could be applied to identify entrepreneurial talent? Should provision be made specifically for other sources of recognised third-party endorsement for potential businesses?

· Are there any examples of international best practice that the UK could follow? Which countries are particularly innovative in this area?

Potential changes

· Increasing the threshold of cash: This will be considered only if there would be a greater positive impact based on the MAC’s report.

· Restrictions on business sectors: Greater emphasis might be placed on sectors where the UK wishes to see growth and where such growth relies on bringing talent from outside the UK. Sectors such as technology, new energy or other high growth start-up companies might be prioritised over traditional low growth businesses.

· Genuineness test: Involvement of third party (such as venture capital, UKTI) to endorse the specific business or applicant in order to accelerate the application.

There’s no doubt that the Home Office is considering some of the changes mentioned above and as a result, prospective Tier 1 Entrepreneur may wish to apply sooner rather than later.

If you have questions regarding potential changes to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur, please contact us for professional legal advice.