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Migration Advisory Committee outlines recommendations to improve Tier 1 entrepreneur visa routes

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended the Government substantially reforms the visa route for entrepreneurs looking to come to the UK.

According to evidence gathered by the MAC, some migrants are using the entrepreneur route as a low cost alternative to the Tier 1 (Investor) route, which requires an investment of £2 million. This approach involves migrants investing into a business in return for a small equity stake, but with only a limited role in the running of the business.

As part of its recommendations to make the entrepreneur route more selective, the MAC says that industry experts should be responsible for selecting successful applicants. It also recommends that routine monitoring of successful applicants is introduced.

As part of its recommendations, the MAC says:

  • The Government should consider introducing a separate visa route for talented entrepreneurs looking to establish start-up businesses in the UK. This low-volume, highly selective route would aim to attract the best entrepreneurial talent, with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)-approved accelerator programmes allowed to endorse individuals for a limited number of visas.
  • Where appropriate partners are identified, the Government may wish to build third party endorsement into the selection process. In particular, the Home Office could work with UKTI and the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) to explore the feasibility of approving selected angel investor networks or syndicates to provide third party endorsement under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route.
  • The selection of migrant entrepreneurs should be carried out by industry experts where possible. Options for assessing the applications could include: appointing a panel of experts with expertise in early-stage entrepreneurship, such as angel investors or venture capitalists; recruiting specialist immigration officers qualified to review business plans; working with other government departments such as UKTI or BIS; or outsourcing the assessment of business plans to a professional services firm.
  • The entrepreneur visa routes should aim to attract entrepreneurs with innovative business proposals.

Currently these are only recommendations, however it is highly likely that there will be a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules and that the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route will be changed.

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